An espresso drink is any drink that contains espresso. (A complex and in-depth definition, I know.)
It doesn’t matter if that drink is hot or cold, how much milk or foam it has, or how lost the espresso gets inside it (though, it’s hard to truly lose espresso in other things).
As long as there’s espresso in it, we consider it an espresso drink for our purposes.
Popular Espresso Drinks By Definition
Many espresso drinks are quite similar, only varying in the amount of milk, foam, water, or even coffee used to round them out.
But even small adjustments to espresso produce big changes in flavor, giving us the variety in espresso drinks we see on most coffee shop menus.
Here are the most well-known espresso drinks (as far as we can tell) by their most basic definitions:
A single shot (1oz/30ml) of coffee, freshly pulled under pressure
A double-shot (2oz/60ml) of coffee, freshly pulled under pressure
A short, or restricted, shot (0.5oz/15ml) of coffee pulled under pressure for an abbreviated amount of time
A long shot (2oz/60ml) of coffee pulled under pressure for an extended amount of time
Espresso Con Panna
A regular espresso shot topped with whipped cream
Espresso “marked” with a dash of steamed milk and foam
Espresso with an equal amount of lightly steamed, but not frothed, milk
Espresso with an equal amount of half-and-half (milk and cream), topped with foam
Espresso with hot water added to it
Espresso rounded with equal parts steamed milk and foam
Espresso rounded with twice as much steamed milk and a thin layer of foam
Steamed foam and milk “marked” with espresso
A café latte with chocolate
Two ristretto shots of espresso with milk steamed into microfoam
Brewed coffee with a shot (or more) of espresso
Visual Guide to Popular Espresso Drinks
Espresso Con Panna
Lesser-Known Espresso Drinks
Lesser-known espresso drinks are typically lesser-known because they are regional.
Though, a few of the lesser-knowns are derivatives of other espresso drinks that rarely get their own listings on coffee shop menus.
Here are a few lesser-known espresso drinks that are worthy of note:
Espresso with a small amount of milk (less than 3.4 oz/100 ml) steamed into microfoam
Basically, a less milky flat white
A doppio espresso with an equal amount of hot water
A small version of a latte served in a demitasse glass
Espresso with an equal amount of sweetened condensed milk
Popular in: Spain
Espresso brewed with sugar
Popular in: Florida
The original version of the Cubano is coffee brewed with sugar either by drip or some other form of brewing, not espresso.
An espresso rounded with cold water
Popular in: Northern Italy
Steamed milk topped with espresso and topped with foam
Popular in: Israel
A doppio espresso with an equal to double amount of lightly steamed milk
Popular in: Kent, UK
Espresso poured over a marshmallow
Popular in: Pacific Northwest (U.S.)
A doppio espresso shaken with ice (and sometimes sugar) to chill it and create foam
Popular in: Greece
Alcoholic Espresso Drinks
These days, plenty of specialty cocktails incorporate espresso.
We don’t really consider these separate espresso drinks because they are all variations of the same basic thing – espresso with liquor in different combinations.
However, there are two well-known alcoholic espresso drinks that stand alone.
Espresso with a dash of liquor
The simple drink that started the espresso + liquor craze.
Espresso, sweet coffee liqueur and vodka
Not Quite Espresso Drinks
And, last but not least on our list of espresso drinks, we have a legendary espresso offerings that’s not quite a drink, but can be.
Affogato al Caffe
Vanilla ice cream topped with espresso, with or without a dash of sweet liqueur
Similar to a root beer float, the affogato al caffe is technically a dessert and a drink only in parts, but it definitely becomes a drink if you let it sit long enough.
Comparing Espresso Drinks
As previously mentioned, a lot of espresso drinks are very much alike, only distinguishable by small adjustments in milk, foam, and dilution, which makes it hard to keep track of what’s what.
For a better understanding of how the most similar of these espresso drinks diverge, check out our espresso drinks verses and general information articles, which aim to put espresso and its most common additions into clearer perspective:
- Americano vs Espresso: What’s The Difference?
- Cortado vs Americano: What’s The Difference?
- Cortado vs Breve: What’s The Difference?
- Cortado vs Cafe Au Lait: What’s The Difference?
- Cortado vs Cappuccino: What’s The Difference?
- Cortado vs Cortadito: What’s The Difference? (Are They The Same Drink?)
- Cortado vs Cubano: What’s The Difference?
- Cortado vs Espresso: What’s The Difference?
- Cortado vs Flat White: What’s The Difference?
- Cortado vs Latte: What’s The Difference?
- Cortado vs Macchiato: What’s The Difference?
- Ristretto vs Espresso: What’s The Difference?
- What Is A Long Shot Of Espresso?
- What Is A Ristretto?