All Espresso Drinks Explained

When thinking about ‘espresso drinks’ you’ll be forgiven for thinking solely about the simple espresso shot. But that espresso shot is a key ingredient in many of your favourite coffees, especially classics such as cappuccinos and lattes. So the aim of this article is to go through

We’ll break down all espresso drinks into two categories: black coffee and milk coffee.

In black coffee we will talk about Single Espresso, Double Espresso, Americano, Lungo and Filter Coffee. In milk coffee we will talk about Macchiato, Cortado (or Piccolo), Flat White, Cappuccino and Caffé Latte.

The names vary a lot around the world and recipes are not set in a stone but this overview should be a good starting point for you.

Espresso Shot

Single Espresso, Single Shot or just an Espresso is served in a small cup. The volume is usually around 20 – 30 millilitres or for us, grams because we prefer to weigh coffee. In our case it’s 21 grams.

It’s a very intense concentrated beverage with a rich taste and smooth structure. Before you drink it it’s good to stir it so all the layers mix before you taste it.

Double Espresso

If you want to drink a little more coffee but with the same intensity just order a Double Espresso (or Espresso Doppio). It’s the same recipe the only difference is that baristas use a bigger cup – usually the one that’s intended for Cappuccino to capture Espresso shots from both spouts. If you’ve got a home machine that doesn’t have two spouts then you’ll have to pull the two shots individually to get that rich espresso taste.

The benefit is that the price is usually better than if you were to order two single espressos and of course you get that extra caffeine hit.


The humble Americano is basically a diluted espressso and is intended for those who prefer a less intense coffee. You can expect it to be served in a Cappuccino cup.

The barista first adds around 100 to 120ml of water and then pours an espresso shot. The coffee retains the flavour characteristics of espresso, but the intensity is milder.


Lungo is a longer espresso which you can produce by adjusting the grinder and running a longer shot.

It’s usually 30 to 40 grams or alternatively you can just add extra hot water to a regular espresso and dilute to your preferred taste.

Filter Coffee

The last black coffee alternative is filter coffee (or batch brew). It doesn’t really fit this topic since it doesn’t come from an espresso machine but it’s a fine option for somebody who wants to drink a big cup of black coffee without the intensity.

The flavour is usually more refined which allows you to recognise certain flavours, it’s less intense and it also develops as the coffee cools down.


Cappuccino is arguably the most popular coffee drink in the world. It consists of a single shot of espresso and foamed milk. The ratio between these two varies from café to café and depends on the cups of their choice.

Usually cups are around 150 to 200ml which creates a nice balance between coffee and milk plus the latte art shows the skills of the barista, the precision of their steaming technique and also can just make your day that little bit better.

Espresso Macchiato

If you want to taste more coffee your option is an Espresso Macchiato. It’s served in a small espresso cup where you mix a single shot of espresso with just a little bit of foamed milk. The ratio is usually between 1:1 and 1:2.


Cortado sometimes also referred to as Piccolo is a small milky espresso drink often served in a glass cup. It mixes a single shot of Espresso with foamed milk in a 100 to 120ml mug.

Flat White

The flat white is a very popular espresso milk drink which originates from Australia and New Zealand. It mixes a double shot of Espresso with foamed milk in a cup designed for a Cappuccino or sometimes an even smaller one.

Flat White gives you a bigger kick from the double espresso and also gives you more flavour.

Café Latte

If you want to drink more milk and less coffee then your option is Café Latte. It’s served in relatively big mugs (around 300ml) and it mixes a single shot of Espresso with foamed milk.


Okay, so now we went through all the espresso-based drinks you can order at a coffee shop, let’s quickly summarise them for you once more.

  • Espresso is an intense short coffee serving a small espresso cup. In specialty coffee shops you can expect between 20 to 25 grams per espresso shot. Double Espresso is basically two espressos served in one bigger cup. You should know that some coffee shops serve only Double Espresso.
  • Americano is espresso diluted with hot water served in a bigger cup.
  • Lungo is a longer and less intense espresso, often served with hot water on the side so you can dilute it to your preferred taste.
  • Filter coffee is a black coffee alternative that is not based on espresso rather you brew it by hand or with the batch brewer.
  • Espresso Macchiato is the smallest milk espresso drink served in an espresso cup. The coffee to milk ratio is around 1:2.
  • Cortado is a Single Espresso with foamed milk often served in a glass cup. The coffee to milk ratio is around 1:4.
  • Flat White is a Double Espresso with foamed milk. The coffee to milk ratio is similar to Cortado, around 1:4, but you get more caffeine and a bigger drink.
  • Cappuccino is a Single Espresso with foamed milk The coffee to milk ratio is around 1:6 or 1:7.
  • Café Latte is a Single Espresso with foamed milk served in a big cup. The coffee to milk ratio is around 1:14.

So now you know all the different types of espresso-based coffees, you’ll never have to worry about ordering the wrong one again!