How to Make Espresso Drinks

Don't Visit a Fancy Coffee Shop for a Great Drink, Make it Yourself!

Espresso drinks can come in a wide and complicated scope of variations. You've got lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, mochas, Americanos and con pannas, just name a few. Of course, you can also drink the espresso shots alone, or make any of these drinks over ice as well. In order to make a good drink, you have to decide which is your favorite and practice it many times.

Straight Espresso

Many people enjoy drinking their espresso straight - without adding any milk or sugar. Making espresso is an art. When the espresso if brewed the way it should, the taste can be truly delightful. However, if the espresso is not done well, the drink may be so appalling that you may have great difficulty finishing it. Straight espresso comes either as a single shot, a double shot (also called doppio espresso) or in a form of a ristretto.


This may be a good option for those who find the taste of straight espresso to be too intense. Simply pour a shot of espresso in a cup and add hot water to fill the cup. The exact proportion of espresso and water will depend on your taste. It's similar to a regular cup of coffee, but the espresso and water combination makes it taste a little smoother than your average coffee.


A latte is a great place to start when you are trying to make new drinks. To make a latte, pull a shot of espresso, add steamed milk and top it off with a little foam. Frothing milk is relatively difficult skill to acquire and with a latte you only need a little bit of good foam to make it turn out right. Many people like to add sugar, sugar substitute or flavored syrup or powder to their lattes. The flavor combinations are truly endless.


This drink is very similar to a latte, but has considerably more foam. About one third of the cappuccino drink is espresso and the rest is a mix of stead and frothed milk. Just how much of the froth you use depends on what type of cappuccino you are after. A dry cappuccino has only a small amount of liquid milk and a lot of the milk froth. A wet cappuccino on the other hand has much more milk and only little froth (but it still has much more froth than a latte).

As you make your cappuccino drink, put a shot of espresso in the cup first, then add the amount of steamed milk you desire. It is how you steam the milk that greatly impacts the quality of your cappuccino. If you want to add flavoring, do that next. Many folks like fruity syrups such as raspberry when they drink a cappuccino in the summertime, and switch to something warm and comforting like caramel or hazelnut during the cold months of the year. Whichever cappuccino you choose should be finished off with plenty of lovely foam.


In Italian, macchiato means "marked", and it actually refers to two totally different types of drinks. Caffé macchiato is espresso stained with a tiny amount of milk and / or foam. This drink is the original meaning of the word macchiato.

The other drink is latte macchiato and to make it you put the steamed milk and foam in your cup first, then pour the espresso shots on top. The foam looks marked with the brown color of the espresso. As you take your first sip, the flavor of latte macchiato is quite a bit stronger than that of ordinary latte, because the shots have been added to the top of the drink.


Mocha is basically a latte with chocolate powder or chocolate syrup added. Sometimes, whipped cream is used on top rather than foam from the milk. A good tip is to put the chocolate syrup in the cup first, then add the shot of espresso and swirl just a bit in the cup. This allows the chocolate to melt a little and mix in well with the steamed milk. Also, give it just a little stir before you add the whipped cream to make sure it is mixed well. To make a truly decadent mocha, top it off with some chocolate sauce drizzled on top of the whipped cream.

Con Panna

To make a con panna, pour a shot of espresso in a small espresso cup and put whipped cream on top. The cream will melt quickly with the hot liquid, so sip it right away before it overflows!

Now you know how to make espresso drinks, but in order to make them perfectly, you just need to practice!

Finally, if you are into making speciality espresso drinks, then some of these books may come in handy:
Cappucino Cocktails Specialty Coffee Recipes by Susan M. Zimmer
Cappuccino/Espresso: The Book of Beverages by Christie Katona and Thomas Katona
I Love Coffee!: Over 100 Easy and Delicious Coffee Drinks by Susan Zimmer

Further Reading

Making Espresso
How to Froth Milk
Planning to Buy Espresso Machine: Things to Consider