Coffee can be enjoyed in so many forms. There are many exciting coffee drinks and coffee recipes that are based on variations and combinations of coffee, espresso, milk, and cream. When you visit the many popular coffee houses today, you are faced with so many choices. It can sometimes be overwhelming or even a little intimidating.
There is a popular lingo or jargon in vogue today that makes ordering these drinks even more confusing. What ever happened to the simple “I’d like a cup of coffee”? Now it seems we have to speak a foreign language and master a complicated set of terms just to enjoy our favorite beverage.
While many different coffee recipes and beverages have been popular favorites for a long time, it seems that it wasn’t until the early 1980’s, as Starbucks began to open their first stores, that a whole new coffee phenomena was introduced in the US. Starbucks introduced the vibrant coffee culture of Italy to the US and the rest is history.
The following guide of coffee recipes, drinks and terms should help simplify matters. It’s really not as complicated it sounds.
Most of the popular coffee recipes and drinks that are popular everywhere today are based on espresso.
Espresso is a special way to brew coffee that produces a very concentrated and intense, highly flavorful beverage. Hot water almost at a boiling temperature (about 195F) is forced under high pressure (9 bars or about 135 PSI) through 6 to 7 grams of finely ground coffee to produce a concentrated shot of coffee, about 1.5 to 2 ounces of liquid. This process extracts the flavorful and aromatics coffee oils to produce a strong and intense coffee beverage.
- Straight Shot – a single straight shot of espresso, without any other ingredients, about 1 to 1.5 ounces of liquid. Espresso, when made right, will have a rich layer of golden crema on the top. This is the natural expansion of coffee oils that result from the espresso extraction process (hot water forced under pressure through the compacted ground coffee). Crema, a rich dark tan layer of frothy coffee foam, is hard to describe, but you’ll know it when you see it and taste it. Be sure to drink the espresso right away – the crema will only last about 2 minutes, and then it will dissolve into the liquid.
- Doppio – a double shot of espresso. Doppio means “double” in Italian. A double shot would be about twice that of a single shot, or 2 to 3 ounces of liquid.
- Ristretto – the short shot or ristretto is a basic espresso shot extracted to a volume of only ¾ of ounce of liquid. This restricted pour magnifies the essence and intensity even more than a normal espresso. Very popular in Europe and Italy.
- Espresso Macchiato – starts with a shot of espresso and then a small amount of foamed milk is spooned over the shot. Macchiato means “marked” in Italian referring to the espresso being marked with a spot of foam.
- Espresso Con Panna – similar to a macchiato, but whipped cream is used in place of the foamed milk. “Con panna” means “with cream” in Italian.
- Espresso Romano - a single shot of espresso served with a twist of lemon peel. Contrary to the name "Romano", this is not an Italian tradition. The lemon peel garnish is actually a US invention.
- Caffe Americano – this drink transforms espresso into more of an American brewed coffee. Start with one shot of espresso and add hot water to make a full 6-8 oz cup. This results in a smooth, diluted version of espresso coffee.
- Cappuccino – one of the most popular espresso drinks and somewhat trickier coffee recipes to do well. Cappuccino is made with 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 frothed milk. Powdered cocoa or cinnamon can be sprinkled on the top as a garnish. The technique is a little tricky. To layer the milk and espresso, it’s necessary to allow the frothed milk a moment to rest and separate.
The order that you pour the ingredients into the cup makes a difference. Pour the steamed milk into the bottom third of the cup. Next, pour the espresso slowly into the steamed milk. Then spoon the frothed milk on top to fill the cup. The espresso should settle between the milk and the foam.
- Caffe Latte – start with a single or double shot of espresso in a 10 to 12 oz cup. Tilt the cup and pour about 8 to 10 oz of steamed milk slowly down the side. This floats some of the espresso to the top causing a swirling appearance. Sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon to garnish. As a common variation, latte can be flavored with Italian syrups such as hazelnut.
- Caffe Mocha – made by adding powdered or chocolate syrup to a shot of espresso and blended. Add steamed milk to the espresso and chocolate mixture and top with whipped cream.
- Mochaccino – similar to a caffe mocha, but top with peaked milk foam instead of whipped cream.
Be sure to take a look at this great espresso coffee drinks visual guide
Please come back and visit often as we continue to add more exciting coffee recipes and drinks to the page.