Espresso, that sweet little shot of sunshine is more than just a standalone drink, it is the foundation of the espresso drink family. While most of us are familiar with the milk-heavy espresso-based drinks, such as cappuccino and latte, there are a number of delicious, lesser-known variations. Below are some of our favorites.
Straight and simple
Brewing with less or more water alters extraction. Extraction determines which flavor notes and bean characteristics are most prominent in the brewed cup. The ristretto and lungo use extraction to emphasize different qualities inherent to espresso.
Single espresso, also known as a shot of espresso, is brewed with 7 grams of coffee and yields one liquid ounce of espresso.
Double espresso, also known as a doppio, is brewed with 14 grams of coffee and yields two liquid ounces of espresso.
Ristretto, also known as a short (or restricted in Italian), is an espresso made with 7 grams of coffee but only half the amount water used to brew a single espresso. The result is a darker, more concentrated espresso with higher levels of fast-extracting compounds that give this little drop of joy a sweet, rich flavor.
Lungo, also known as a long, is an espresso made with 7 grams of coffee and twice the amount of water as a single espresso. The result is a lighter toned, less concentrated, bitter, almost pungent espresso. If you enjoy a rich, bitter cup, lungos should be on your coffee shortlist!
For smooth and mellow, just add water
Brewing an espresso with more water and adding water to a brewed espresso may sound like the same thing but the processes create very different results. Adding water to a brewed cup of coffee does not impact extraction, it only dilutes and mutes the flavors in the cup.
Café Americano, also known as a long black, is made by adding hot water to a single or double espresso. Generally, Americanos are made with a 2:1 espresso to water ratio. The extra water dilutes the espresso, mellowing its strength and flavor.
Café Zorro is a single or double espresso added to a glass of hot water with a 1:1 espresso to water ratio. Zorros, while subtler and lighter in mouthfeel than a single espresso, preserve the rich, sweet notes you expect in a fine espresso.
Lighten things up with a touch of dairy
Most coffee lovers are familiar with cappuccinos and lattes but there are a host of other delicious, dairy touched, espresso-based drinks. All of these drinks are traditionally made with a single espresso base. Our favorites include:
Café breve is essentially a rich, creamy latte. Similar to a latte, the breve is made with a single espresso topped with steamed half-and-half and fluffy, airy half-and-half foam. The extra fat in the half-and-half adds a muted nutty sweetness to the espresso.
Café cortado, which means to cut in Spanish, is an espresso cut with warm or steamed milk. The milk masks any bitterness in the espresso, creating an incredibly smooth, bitter-less cup. Generally, cortados are made with a 2:1 espresso to warm milk ratio.
Café macchiato, which means stained coffee in Italian and, is a single espresso topped with a drop of milk foam. Macchiattos tend to be rich, dense, and creamy. Macchiatos are called noisettes in France.
Espresso con panna, which means espresso with cream in Italian, is a single espresso topped with a dollop of whipped cream. The cream adds extra sweetness to the cup while enhancing its texture, creating a velvety, smooth espresso treat.
Boost the brightness with a citric kick
Citrus and coffee may not be a natural pairing but it certainly is wonderful! Adding a bit of lime or lemon to your coffee adds natural sweetness while reducing bitterness. Café Romanos and Guillermos are wonderfully refreshing and perfect for those who love the texture and richness of an espresso but find them slightly too bitter.
Café Guillermo is a single espresso served over slices of lime. The lime’s sweet citric acid creates a naturally sweet, almost tingly cup with very little bitterness.
Café Romano is single espresso served with a slice of lemon. The lemon’s sweet citric acid adds a gentle natural sweetness and reduces the espresso’s natural bitterness.