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Espresso is one of the most popularly enjoyed coffee beverages across the globe. In addition, it is a vital component of many coffee drinks, beloved for its rich flavor and velvety crema, that makes any type of coffee taste divine!
With so many different ways to enjoy espresso, it can be a little confusing. This is why we have created a guide to some of the most popular espresso drinks so that you can find the next coffee perfect for your tastes!
For a more detailed guide on espresso and other coffee drinks please see our post 60+ Different Types of Coffee Drinks To Enjoy!
What Is Espresso?
As an integral part of coffee culture, you will need to know all there is to know about espresso.
The term espresso actually comes from the phrase meaning pressed out, which describes how the coffee drink is made. Many people confuse espresso with a type of coffee bean, or roast, when it is actually the method of brewing that espresso refers to.
A typical espresso is made by forcing water at a temperature of about 90 °C or 190 °F under pressure (9–15 bars, 900–1,000 kPa, or 130–150 psi) through finely-ground coffee beans contained in a portafilter fixed in a specialized espresso machine.
Espresso has become the most common way that we make coffee across the world, with espresso machines rife in many coffee shops, cafes, and bars. Originally enjoyed in Italy, espresso was intended as a quick coffee fix, that can be had any time of the day!
The Most Popular Espresso Drinks
Most of the coffee drinks that we see on menus today consist of espresso, and so we have compiled a complete guide of all of the different ways you can enjoy this beautiful beverage.
The espresso is made by pressing hot water with about 9 bars of pressure through ground coffee beans. Some machines vary pressure for the pre-infusion, the infusion, and the end of the shot. The infusion lasts about 25 to 30 seconds as this has been found to be the optimal time for extraction of coffee with 9 bars of pressure.
1 bar = 14.5 psi
9 bar = 130.5 psi
Your car tire usually has about 32 psi. Consequently, the pressure used to make your espresso coffee is about four times the pressure in your car tire!
Espresso pressure is 4 x car tire pressure!
An espresso can then be enjoyed as a drink that is consumed quickly, for a burst of fire and energy, or can be used as the base of many other specialty coffee drinks. Espresso is typically served in a short shot of about 35 to 40 ml.
Many factors can be ‘tweaked’ when brewing espresso to create a flavorful coffee drink. Please read our post ‘How to Make the Perfect Espresso on National Espresso Day’ for more details.
Caffè crema (Italian/French for ‘cream coffee’) can mean the old name for espresso or a ‘long espresso’ drink common to Germany and Switzerland. Consequently, it can also be referred to as Caffè Suisse.
Caffè crema is made by passing up to 240 ml of water through coarse coffee grounds in a portafilter. As we’ve previously mentioned the term ‘long espresso’ refers to the extraction time. Usually, a ‘long espresso’ would need up to a minute for extraction. However, coarse coffee grounds are used to make a caffè crema which means the extraction time is usually about 30 seconds.
Doppio is the Italian word for a double. So, if you see this one on the menu, then you can expect a double shot of espresso, for a more concentrated hit of caffeine, and a quick fix of coffee!
Ristretto (Italian for ‘limited’) is a short shot of espresso also sometimes called a corto. A ristretto is made with the normal amount of ground coffee (about 7 g) but extracted with about half the amount of water.
When you use an espresso machine you need to use an extraction time of about 15 s to give a volume of about 15 ml to 20 ml (this also includes the crema).
Lungo is the Italian term for long. This relates to how this coffee is brewed, as it is made using the same amount of coffee beans, but in double the amount of time, it takes to brew the shot.
Therefore, the Lungo has a larger volume than an espresso shot, and is slightly weaker in strength, with a more bitter flavor.
Latte is the Italian term for milk, and so a latte is made with two ingredients, espresso and milk! The latte may be one of the more famous coffee drinks that coffee connoisseurs around the world have adopted as one of their favorites.
The latte became well known for its milk art, and creamy patterns that can be made on top of this coffee’s foam. In most cases, the latte is made with a ⅓ of espresso, and ⅔ steamed milk for a creamy, delicious and smooth serving of coffee.
Similar to the latte, the cappuccino is also a world renowned type of coffee drink, made with espresso and milk. This coffee is served all across the globe and is often considered the world’s favorite type of coffee!
However, it is a little different from a latte, as this drink is served with ⅓ espresso, ⅓ steamed milk and ⅓ foamed milk.
The Mocha is the perfect coffee drink for those with a sweet tooth, who are not huge fans of the bitter aftertaste of coffee beans. This is because a mocha is made with chocolate syrup or flavorings for a burst of sweetness.
A typical mocha is served with ⅓ espresso, ⅙ cocoa or chocolate syrup, ⅓ milk and ⅙ of foam to top it off. Many people love this form of coffee drink as it perfectly combines chocolate and coffee (which are two of our favorite things!).
A macchiato is a stronger coffee, made with a single or double shot of espresso, and a tiny amount of milk. This can really let the taste of the coffee beans come through, with a powerful burst of flavor.
If you want something to wake you up in the morning, a macchiato will work very well!
The flat white is sort of the cousin of the latte, and is also known as an Australian Latte. The two are very similar in nature, but the flat white is made with slightly less milk, which makes the coffee flavor all the more powerful for a stronger coffee.
Similar to a latte, the flat white is served up with ⅓ espresso shot, ⅔ of steamed milk and a tiny layer of foam on the top, however, stretched milk is often the favored ingredient in this one.
Another popular contender is the Americano. This coffee drink got its name from its popularity among American soldiers during the second World War.
An Americano is a simplistic beverage, made with an espresso shot, which is then diluted a little with hot water.
A long black is similar to an Americano, in the fact that it is espresso mixed with some hot water. That being said, to make a long black, you would typically have a double shot of espresso, poured over some hot water, to help retain the crema on top.
This gives the long black a creamy finish, with a powerful aroma, delicious taste and very favorable flavor.
If you want to get your caffeine hit whilst also trying something a little different, then you could try an affogato.
This beverage is made with a scoop of vanilla gelato, and a shot of hot espresso poured over the top for a perfect mixture of sweet and bitterness!
A cortado is a great option for those who do not enjoy the bitterness or aftertaste of coffee.
This is largely due to the fact that a cortado is made with ½ of espresso shot and ½ of steamed milk, which gives a velvety smooth texture for the drinker.
A breve is the term for concise in Italy. This describes the nature of this coffee drink as it is made with an espresso shot, and half whole milk, with half cream.
This is a 30 ml espresso served with a twist of lemon in a demitasse cup. We have no idea why the word ‘Romano’ is used but a literal translation is ‘Roman Coffee’. It is also known as caffè canarino or caffè al limone.
It is similar to a latte, due to its simplicity.
Espresso is one of the most integral parts of many coffee drinks, used for lattes to lungos, from flat whites to long blacks. Its convenience and versatility make it the number one method of brewing coffee across the world.
With our guide to different types of espresso coffees, you can find your favorite, or try something new, and get back to enjoying a delicious cup of coffee.
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