Most cafe specialty drinks are espresso drinks. This simply means that the coffee part of the drink is espresso.
Any coffee bean can become espresso. Coffee bags are often labeled as “espresso beans” because they are the signature espresso blend of a coffee roaster, but this does not mean that the beans are meant for espresso inherently.
Roasters are more likely to use darker roasts for espresso because they are easier to make decent espresso from and are more approachable to the average consumer. But light, dark, blend, single origin – all can become espresso.
A shot of espresso is a concentrated form of coffee created by forcing hot water through super-fine coffee grounds at high pressure. The amount of espresso produced is about one ounce and is referred to as a “shot.”
There’s much more diversity in espresso flavor than most people realize. The usual idea is that espresso is acidic and bitter, but that’s true only for poorly roasted coffee or poor technique. Good coffee with good technique can produce a shot that is bursting with complex ripe flavors, satisfying sweetness, a syrupy body, and a smooth, lingering finish that leaves you wanting more. By the way, the layer that sits on top of the espresso is called crema. It is actually a micro-foam of aromatic oils and air. It is not cream or milk! This portion of the shot is very acidic and intense in flavor.
Almost all specialty coffee drinks contain just two basic ingredients: espresso and milk. The drinks differ in the amounts and treatment of these ingredients, which leads to varying characteristics of boldness and creaminess:
Any espresso drink can then be adjusted and further customized by adding sweeteners or flavored syrups or by substituting nondairy alternatives for the milk.
The latte is the milkiest of the espresso drinks: the shot of espresso is blended with a significant amount of steamed milk and topped with a thin layer of microfoam. The low concentration of espresso blends well with sweet flavor syrups such as vanilla or mocha. If you’re in the mood for an iced drink, iced lattes are refreshing and smooth.
The cappuccino is the most famous espresso and milk drink around the world. Like a latte, this is a creamy drink, but with distinct layers of espresso, steamed milk, and foamed milk in equal parts. A cappuccino boasts a stronger espresso flavor than a latte because it has less steamed milk and more foamed milk, and the foam lends the drink a luxurious velvety texture. The cappuccino is a fantastic middle ground for enjoying the espresso flavor while not being overpowered by it.
A flat white (aka an Australian Latte) is quite similar to a latte in that it uses steamed milk with very thin foam, but the flavor is more intense as it uses less milk and an extra concentrated (ristretto) shot. If you want a coffee that gives you a strong espresso taste but with the creamy mouthfeel of steamed milk, it’s a great choice.
The macchiato is a confusing drink, as definitions and recipes vary. The traditional espresso macchiato is a shot of espresso topped with a small dollop of microfoam from steamed milk. The foam is spooned out, taking only a small amount of liquid milk with it. Macchiatos are great for experiencing the rich and diverse flavors of espresso without getting the full punch. The small bit of milk and foam smooths out the roughest edges, while leaving the shot’s flavor profile intact.
The latte macchiato is very similar to a “regular” latte, with the same ratio of milk and espresso. The difference is that in a latte, the milk and espresso are evenly blended, while in the latte macchiato the espresso is poured on top. This gives the latte a consistent creamy flavor, while the latte macchiato has a more robust espresso flavor and significant flavor gradient from the strong first sip to the milky last. The increasingly popular caramel macchiato is a sweeter drink crafted with vanilla syrup and caramel drizzle.
The simplest espresso drink is a single shot of espresso (one ounce). The standard espresso drink is a double shot of espresso (known as a Doppio), although you can get as many shots as you want. The espresso will have a rich bold taste, velvety mouthfeel, and aromatic scent, under a layer of crema. It should never taste deeply bitter, sour, or watery.
A Ristretto is a shot of espresso made with less water than normal, creating a more concentrated and sweeter flavor. It is also known as a “short” shot. A Lungo is a shot of espresso made with more water than normal, which dilutes the taste and makes it less rich and dense. It is also known as a “long” shot.
An Americano is an espresso shot diluted with water. It is similar in appearance to a brewed coffee but has a richer taste as well as a layer of crema from the espresso shot. An Americano will have a more intense, deep coffee flavor, while a brewed coffee will have a more subtle, lighter, and sweeter flavor.
A Redeye is simply a brewed cup of coffee with a shot of espresso poured in for a little extra punch.
Cafe au Lait and Cafe Misto are two common names for the same drink, consisting of half brewed coffee and half steamed milk. The drink is creamy like a latte, but with a stronger coffee flavor because less milk is used.
A Breve is an espresso drink that uses half and half or cream instead of milk.
Cold foam is nonfat milk that has been frothed without being heated. It doesn’t mix in with the coffee, but rather sits on top of the drink. Its creamy texture and flavor make it the perfect finish to a cold beverage, and flavors can be added to it to create an even more special experience.
These terms give you control over how much foam you’d like in your drink: a dry drink communicates to the barista that you want extra foam and less liquid and a wet drink communicates to the barista that you want less foam and more steamed milk.
Our sizes are short (8 oz), Small (12 oz), Medium (16 oz), and Large
Almost all espresso and tea drinks are available either hot or iced, and both are delicious ways to enjoy your favorites.
Do you want an espresso-based drink or brewed coffee?
If brewed coffee, select your roast.
If espresso-based, now you’re an expert, so pick your new favorite!
Our standard option is 2% dairy milk, but dairy options include nonfat milk, whole milk, half & half (breve), and heavy cream. Nondairy options include almond milk, soy milk, and oat milk. For milk-forward drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and flat whites, the milk you select has a big impact on flavor and creaminess, so experiment to see what you like.
Add a flavor, sweetener, or sauce to make your drink sweeter and more flavorful. We have numerous options to choose from, and you can mix and match to create your own special drink. You can even add additional pumps of syrup if you want an even sweeter and stronger flavor.Select additional toppings like whipped cream, cinnamon powder, cold foam, or mocha/caramel drizzle.