Espresso, latte, cappuccino, macchiato -- they're pretty standard fare in most U.S. specialty coffee shops, but they're just the crema on the espresso, to coin a phrase. If you're ready to expand your espresso repertoire, check out these 10 lesser-known expresso drinks popular in various parts of the country or around the world.
It doesn't get any simpler than this. Just plop a scoop of vanilla ice cream into a glass or bowl and pour a freshly pulled shot of espress over the top. On the other hand, affogato is such a delectable treat with so many variations that we're going to devote an entire drink guide to it later this week. Stay tuned!
The Americano isn't exactly unknown - in fact, it's pretty much a standard espresso drink in most cafes. We're including it to distinguish it from the Long Black, which uses the same ingredients and proportions but is mixed differently. For an Americano, pull a shot of espresso into a latte cup or regular coffee mug and add hot water to the desired strength. The proportions in an Americano vary from 1:1 to 1:16, depending on the shot.
A caffe breve is simply a cappuccino made with half-and-half instead of milk. The higher cream content of the half-and-half results in richer, thicker foam that stands up well to espresso. The proportions for a breve are 1/3rd espresso, 1/3rd steamed half-and-half, 1/3rd foam.
Caffe Viennese (Austria)
Sometimes called cafe viennois, caffe Viennese usually means a shot of espresso cut with steamed milk and topped with whipped cream. The proportions are the same as for a cappuccino, substituting whipped cream for milk foam: 1/3rd espresso, 1/3rd steamed milk, 1/3rd whipped cream.
A cortadito (called simply a cortado in many other Latin countries) is similar to a macchiato: a shot of espresso cut with a little bit of warmed milk. The proportions for a coffee to milk proportions for a cortadito are generally 1:1, though some shops add a little more milk. A traditional cortadito has very little milk foam, but in the U.S., it's pretty common for baristas to use enough foam for latte art. It's also traditional to serve a cortadito in juice glass or a glass with straight sides. In some shops in California, the cortado is known as a Gibraltar, named for the Gibraltar glasses in which it is served.
Cafe Cubano (Cuba, Miami)
Cafe cubano is the perfect espresso variation if you have a hyper sweet tooth. It's typically made in a stovetop moka pot, but these days, it's not unusual to make cafe cubano in an espresso machine. To make a cubano, put 1-2 teaspoons of sugar into the bottom of a cup. Pull a single or double shot into the cup over the sugar. Serve as is, or with a cup of steamed milk on the side for cafe con leche.
Flat White (Australia)
We've heard Australian friends bemoan the state of American coffee, complaining that it's impossible to get a decent flat white here in the States. That's no big surprise, since most resources will tell you that a flat white is "the same as a cappuccino but with less foam" or "similar to a latte but with more foam." In reality, a flat white is like a latte and a cappuccino only insofar as they all are made with steamed milk and espresso. An authentic flat white is made with pure textured milk -- just the velvety microfoam -- and rather than resting on top and creating a layer, it gently folds into the espresso, leaving just a thin layer of foam on top. To make a flat white, you need to perfect the art of texturing milk -- creating a silky, velvety microfoam that pours like thick latex paint. The coffee:milk proportions are 1:1. Pull a single or double shot of espresso. Texture an equivalent amount of milk. Tilt the espresso cup as you start pouring the milk into it so that the milk sinks through the crema and folds into the coffee. Towards the end of the pour, straighten the cup and continue pouring to create a thin float of microfoam over the top. (Hint: it's the perfect espresso variation for latte art.)
The galao is the Portuguese answer to the latte. The sweet, milky drink is made with one part espresso to three parts hot milk. While you can steam the milk with a steam wand, it's more traditional to heat the milk to near boiling in a small saucepan, often dissolving sugar into the milk as it heats. To serve, pour the espresso and milk into a tall glass.
Long Black (Australia)
Like an Americano, a long black is made with espresso and hot water, but for a long black, you add the espresso to hot water instead of the reverse. Adding the espresso a cup of hot water preserves the crema and results in richer flavor. The proportion varies from 1:1 to 1:16.
In Italian, ristretto means "restricted" -- an espresso shot with the water restricted. A regular espresso shot is made with 7g of coffee to 1 oz. of water. A ristretto is made with 7g of espresso to 1/2-3/4 oz. of water -- but that doesn't mean you just stop pulling when you reach the right volume. Most coffee shops adjust either the grind or the tamp (or both) to slow the passage of water through the coffee grounds, resulting in a "shorter" espresso without reducing the amount of time for the shot.
Have you got a favorite espresso drink - perhaps a signature drink from a local cafe? We'd love to hear about and see them! Post pictures to Twitter or Instagram, and tag us with @coffeekind (Twitter) or #coffeekind (Instagram), or share them on our Facebook page.