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A Primer on Espresso Drinks

Whether you’re planning to open a café or are simply an espresso enthusiast, you’ll need top-quality coffeehouse supplies to craft the best drinks. Espresso can be enjoyed alone or as a base for a wide variety of beverages, so it’s important to be aware of the primary drinks that are possible. Having a solid knowledge of the core beverages will allow you to explain the options to customers (or expand your own tastes). We offer a plethora of commercial machines and accessories that are ideal for creating the drinks shared here: 


Although customers may partake in espresso-based beverages on a daily basis, many people aren’t quite sure what the term really means. Next time a curious patron asks the difference between coffee and espresso, you can inform them that espresso is simply a method of coffee brewing. Espresso began in Italy, and involves forcing a small amount of almost-boiling water through finely ground coffee under pressure. Since espresso has a higher ratio of coffee to water (1:2 vs. 1:15 of filter coffee), this drink is known for its bold flavor. 


Macchiato recipes are notoriously different, with most cafés or coffee bars making slightly different variations. For the traditionalists out there, a macchiato is an espresso topped with frothed milk. The term “macchiatorefers to the mark that milk makes atop the espresso shots. 


The Spanish-derived cortado has recently enjoyed a boost in popularity, with many of the U.S.’s most technically-advanced café’s offering this drink. The cortado recipe is simple: it’s equal parts milk and espresso. Often served in a 4.5-oz clear glass, this perfectly-balanced beverage is creamy without sacrificing the bold undertones of espresso. 


Cappuccinos have long been a popular choice in coffee bars. Traditional Italian versions are made with ⅓ parts espresso, ⅓ parts milk, and ⅓ parts foam. However, many cappuccinos in the States have a 1:4 espresso to milk ratio and less foam than the original recipe. 


Lattés were popularized in the United States in the 1980s. In Europe, a latté is simply espresso with milk. Here in the U.S., a latté is typically an 8-12 ounce drink with two shots of espresso and a layer of silky microfoam. The ratio of espresso to milk is often 1:5. Those who prefer a creamy, sweet drink often prefer lattés, as these beverages are endlessly customizable with syrups in specialty shops. 

Flat White

Have a customer who wants a drink similar to a latté and cappuccino? A flat white may be the ideal option. Although baristas may describe and prepare the flat white differently, most agree that this beverage has a similar milk to espresso ratio as a cappuccino but has characteristics of a latté with steamed milk thoroughly mixed in. The layer of microfoam is very thin–usually just about half a centimeter. 


An Americano is a bold drink, made with just espresso and hot water. Since Americans have a reputation for diluting their espresso with milk or water, the Americano is a namesake for this habit. A traditional Americano is crafted with a double shot of espresso and eight ounces of hot water, but it can be customized to the customer’s liking (often by adding an additional shot). 


Mochas are a mainstay in American cafés. Mochas are the outlier in this lineup of drinks, as the beverage has no clear story of origin and includes an additional ingredient beyond espresso and milk. Similar to a latté, mochas are prepared with espresso and a generous serving of milk. Mochas contain chocolate, usually in the form of cocoa powder and sugar or chocolate syrup. 

Espresso is a beloved way to enjoy coffee around the globe. Whether served on its own or included in the recipes mentioned here, your customers are sure to appreciate espresso beverages crafted with care. If you’re looking forward to opening a coffee shop or upgrading your establishment with the best machines in the industry, we carry all the coffeehouse supplies you’ll need. Have questions about finding the best products for your shop? Please contact our team. We’d love to help you find what you’re looking for and answer any questions you may have.

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