Updated: Jun 14
What are espresso drinks? Espresso is a small strong drink using finely ground coffee and high-pressure water and is the base of many enjoyable drinks.
One part that can't be missed is the crema, the top layer.
You can have a whole post on crema. It's that top little brown part that looks almost caramelized that has its properties and flavors.
It's usually the first thing that goes into your mouth. There are three layers to an espresso.
The top one, the crema, has a taste of its own. It even has bits of coffee grind in it, and it has a different texture.
If it has viscosity or fluffiness, It's a good signal if your coffee is fresh or not. So, if you're getting shots pulled & you have no crema on it, it could be a sign that your coffee is stale or not fresh.
Espresso is the base for many drinks. It is one ounce, a doppio is two ounces and a double shot.
These days two ounces, 60 ml, are the traditional amount you put into an espresso drink.
We are presenting here the conventional espresso drinks that are common that people typically order.
Our first drink Is the Affogato.
One of our favorites is the affogato, which is easy to make if you have an espresso machine.
If you don't know what an affogato is, one small scoop of ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over the top.
You take a scoop of ice cream, vanilla or vanilla bean works well, and not even half an ounce of espresso coffee. It's perfect, and it's good.
Our Number Two Is Ristretto
That means restricted. You're getting a smaller, more robust espresso restricting how much water you will add.
There are a lot of misconceptions about the word "stronger" in coffee.
What do we mean when we say stronger?
We mean more intense in terms of flavor. It's more robust when there's less water.
It extracts the coffee at a different rate and could turn bitter.
You probably want the grind of the coffee to be slightly finer for ristretto.
The water is going to go through slower & you will not get the bitterness.
Different coffees will have different flavors, obviously, and then the different grinds you use will affect the taste of the shot. The extraction time will also affect the ristretto.
There are so many aspects to consider, a second more, a second less, finer, or a little courser will affect the coffee or the ristretto.
Lungo is Our Next Drink
The next drink, "lungo," is Italian for a long, opposite ristretto.
Lungo has two to three times more water than you would typically put in espresso and ristretto. You're trying to balance the acidity as you add the water.
Do the opposite of what you do for the ristretto, grind the coffee beans courser, so the water comes through a little faster.
The more water we add, the more we counteract acidity. It's a preference at this point.
Macchiato Is Next
The first espresso drink other than water and coffee is macchiato.
You're not getting too far away from coffee and water.
It might be hard to differentiate between the milk and the cream in a small amount of coffee.
A common question about macchiatos is: why don't people stir macchiatos?
Why don't you mix the milk to get it completely infused into the coffee?
Espressos go into three layers, and if you mix them, you will get everything together.
You'll get a consistent, balanced espresso. By not stirring, the first thing you taste is crema.
Not mixing keeps intact all the different layers of the coffee.
All the drinks here are in such a small quantity that they cool quickly, which will affect the flavor.
If coffee is hot, it can trick you into not tasting the low-quality stuff.
If the coffee is not just right, you'll taste it as it cools.
You need to pay attention because there are so many definitions of your macchiato.
Cappuccino the Celebrity Drink
Macchiato is pretty typical now. We're coming into a more commonplace espresso drink; the cappuccino is something you can see now at most coffee shops.
You can get it almost everywhere.
We are getting into a coffee drink territory that is probably better suited if you're not a coffee drinker yet.
Suppose you don't like coffee that much. Cappuccino will be a better intro because there's a little more milk.
It's a little milder in its flavor and intensity of it.
Café latte or cappuccino?
You start with a café latte or cappuccino and enjoy the coffee flavor so much you want less milk.
So, you go down to a "cortado," which is made with less milk until you say, I want an espresso straight.
If you start with that, it will make your lips pucker–like enjoying biting into a lemon.
It's a shock compared to the cappuccino. It's a drastically different intensity.
Many things could be accurate, and some could be myths about a cappuccino.
There are so many exciting things that may or may not exist.
The Rule of Thirds with a cappuccino, for instance, is another myth.
In equal parts, there's a third of each espresso, milk, and foam in the cup.
The first time you came across that was around 1950.
Perhaps that's not how they made a cappuccino considering the original name was from the 19th century.
As you look at how it's been for an extended period, it's typically been two ounces of espresso, two ounces of milk, and two ounces of foam.
That seems to have been the oldest tradition in Europe.
Cappuccino has a lot more foam than people expect
There's more foam than espresso if you're doing a one-two-two.
The milk in many of these coffees needs to be velvety, almost like a cream.
Making a cappuccino at home might become a much larger macchiato if there's too much foam.
You must froth the milk well to taste the sweetness of the milk combined with the sweetness of the espresso itself, and you have a great cappuccino.
A whole new subset of variables adds or subtracts from the taste. You might have a jar with either cinnamon or chocolate in some places in the world that could be sprinkled on top of the cappuccino.
Here Comes the Latte
The café latte does not originate in Italy, yet it's Italian (the name, not the drink).
Café latte is an espresso drink. When espresso spread worldwide, some people thought it was very bitter & intense.
So what should we do?
We'll add milk to sweeten it—more milk and less foam than a cappuccino.
It has a more significant amount of milk and became known as café latte–latte, meaning milk.
Is there a typical ratio of the café latte?
It varies – one espresso, two milk, would be a typical latte, or one espresso, two milk, and one foam, in the other variety.
The size of the cup you put the coffee in makes a tremendous difference.
It's sometimes hard to get the right size coffee into the right cup or the right amount in the cup's size.
Last but Not Least, Café Americano
Americano was invented in Italy in WW2.
Espresso was new to the Americans, a bit too intense, and they would ask to "water down" the coffee.
A shot of espresso, then filled up with hot water.
With an americano, you put the shot first and then the hot water.
You do the opposite with a Long Black; you pour the water first, then the shot.
Even with two simple ingredients, the order, amount, and ratio can drastically change the coffee.