In this article you will find:
- Espresso brew ratios explained
- Different espresso drinks
- Differences between milk based drinks
If you like to drink coffee, you’ve probably heard the term ‘espresso’ thrown around quite a bit. But what exactly does it entail? Many people associate espresso with that strong, concentrated shot of coffee that serves as a morning pick-me-up. But you should know that almost all coffee drinks are made from espresso, from the creamy cappuccino to the silky latte, espresso is the base to these coffee drinks.
In this guide, we’re going to explain the espresso-based drinks and what differences set them apart. We break down coffee into two categories: black coffee and milk coffee. In the realm of black coffee, we’ll explore the nuances of Single Espresso, Double Espresso, Americano and Lungo. Meanwhile, in the realm of milk coffee, we’ll delve into Macchiato, Cortado (or Piccolo), Flat White, Cappuccino, and Caffé Latte. While the names and recipes might vary from region to region, consider this as a guide to the espresso-based drinks.
What are Espresso Brew Ratios?
To understand the difference between milk-based espresso drinks, you must first understand brew and drink ratios. Brew ratio is about how much ground coffee you use compared to how much coffee liquid you get in your cup.
For instance, when you make a double espresso it is 1:2 ratio that means you want to use 1 gram of coffee grounds for every 2 grams of espresso liquid in your cup. So, if you put 18 grams of ground coffee in your espresso maker, you will want to get 36 grams of espresso in your cup in about 25 – 30 seconds.
This is important to know when you’re making milk-based espresso drinks. Some classic drinks use 1:2 ratio for a double espresso, while others might use a similar ratio for a single espresso. There are also variations where you might have a 1:1 ratio (equal parts coffee grounds and espresso liquid) or a 1:3 to 1:4 ratio, which is called a lungo.
Espresso Based Drinks
Now that we have a basic understanding of how much coffee we use (espresso brew ratios) as the foundation for our drinks, let’s talk about how much espresso and milk go into different espresso-based drinks.
Most of classic milk-based espresso drinks typically use a double shot of espresso because it has a stronger flavour that can stand up to the milk.
Here’s a breakdown of classic espresso drinks, including the type of espresso shot they use and how much frothed or chilled milk you need.
The Different Espresso Drinks:
A single espresso, also known as a single shot or just an espresso, is typically served in a small cup. It usually has a volume of about 18 to 25 grams of liquid.
This espresso is a highly concentrated beverage with a strong and rich flavour, known for its smooth texture. Before sipping it, it’s a good idea to give it a gentle stir to ensure that all the layers blend together before you take your first taste.
If you’re looking to enjoy a bit more coffee while maintaining that strong intensity, you can simply order a Double Espresso, also known as an Espresso Doppio.
The advantage of ordering a Double Espresso is that it often costs less than ordering two single espressos separately.
A lungo requires a longer extraction time than an espresso and produces a coffee drink that’s about the same size as a double espresso. Typically, it results in a coffee that’s about 32 to 36 grams in volume.
The Americano is a simple coffee that’s essentially a watered-down espresso. It’s ideal for people who enjoy a coffee with a less intense flavour. Typically, it’s served in a cappuccino cup.
The Difference Between Milk-Based Drinks:
A latte is one of the milkiest espresso drinks among the classics. That’s why it’s essential to keep the balance between milk and espresso just right.
As for the frothiness, a latte should have up to1 centimeter thickness of milk foam on top of the drink that you would be able to create what is called latte art. This recommendation for foam falls between what you’d find in a flat white or a cappuccino.
Similar to a flat white, a cappuccino achieves a perfect balance between espresso and milk. For a cappuccino recipes we use a double shot of espresso. One distinctive feature of a cappuccino is its thick milk foam, measuring about 1.5 centimeters in terms of frothiness.
When comparing Latte and Cappuccino drinks, the main difference between them is the thickness of the frothed milk foam. In a Latte, you’ll find less espresso, more milk, and a thinner layer of foam, whereas in a Cappuccino, there’s less milk but a thick and creamy layer of foam on top.
A Cortado, sometimes called a Piccolo, is a small coffee made with a shot of espresso and a bit of frothy milk. It’s typically served in a small glass cup and contains about 100 to 120 milliliters of liquid.
It’s the strongest among traditional coffee drinks with milk, and many people are surprised by how little milk it has when they order one! A Macchiato is made with just a small amount of milk and served in a tiny espresso cup, so it’s a very small coffee.
A latte macchiato comes from Italian and means “milk with marks” because it’s made by pouring espresso into frothy milk, leaving marks on the milk. It’s like a fancier version of espresso macchiato.
It’s a milk-based coffee beverage that have stronger espresso flavour compared to a latte. It achieves this by using the same amount of espresso but with a smaller quantity of steamed milk.
Whether you like strong espresso or creamy lattes, it all starts with espresso. The brew ratios which tell you how much coffee and liquid to use help you find your favourite taste. As you explore drinks like cappuccinos, cortados or macchiatos, you’ll notice each one has its own special flavours and textures to enjoy. With this knowledge, choosing your coffee becomes a fun adventure, and every cup is a chance to savour something different.