Guide to the Most Popular Coffee and Espresso Drinks

There's nothing quite like waking up to the smell of coffee brewing. We're not sure which we're more addicted to—the caffeine itself or the enlivening experience of tasting each roast (probably both). But as much as we love a black cup of coffee to start the day, every type of bean tastes a bit different in each coffee drink. Depending on how much water or milk is added to the brew, you get an entirely different experience. There are seemingly endless ways to brew a simple cup of coffee. For more, check out our guide to making the perfect cup of coffee with each method, from pour-over to cold brew. But for this piece, we're covering the most popular coffee and espresso drinks, so we'll start everything with the same two-ounce base: the espresso.


Small yet very strong, espresso is brewed with finely ground coffee and the high pressure of an espresso machine. To find a way to brew a cup of coffee quickly, Luigi Bezzerra invented the first modern espresso machine. Most machines automatically pour a double shot (two ounces). Espresso coffee is a dark roast of Arabica beans (though Robusta is also used). Sometimes coffee shops will call an espresso a ristretto on their menu, but it means the same thing. 

Even if you don't love such an intense sip, there's no denying that an espresso shot is the lifeblood of every coffee drink. Each of the following coffee drinks uses espresso as its foundation. Different water, milk, and foam ratios give each drink its unique character, but the espresso unites them all together.


The Americano is named for the American soldiers who enjoyed their "watered-down coffee" over a dark and dense espresso. A classic Americano is made with about 8oz of boiled water poured over a double shot of espresso, but you can add as much or as little water according to your preferences.


A latte is one of the most popular espresso drinks and has been dolled up with all sorts of flavorings, syrups, and milk alternatives. Creamy and light, the classic latte is made with steamed milk mixed into a double shot of espresso and topped with a touch of foam. Generally, lattes have a 2:1 ratio of milk to espresso. Mocha is a type of latte made with chocolate.


Another combination of espresso, steamed milk, and foam, cappuccinos differ from lattes in ratio and technique. The espresso is not mixed together with the other ingredients. When you sip a cappuccino, you first taste the subtle sweetness of the milk, followed by the rich acidity of the coffee. While ratios differ depending on the barista, a typical cappuccino has a 1:1:1 ratio of espresso to steamed milk to foam.


A macchiato is an espresso served with a tiny dollop of milk foam on top. The milk adds a soothing element to the espresso without taking much away from its rich intensity. In Italian, macchiato means stained, referencing the dash of milk that's added to the drink.


A cortado is Spain's take on tiny espresso drinks. The double shot of espresso is cut with steamed milk and served in a small cup. While similar to a macchiato, a cortado's milk and espresso are more evenly mixed.


A breve is similar in ratio to a latte, but half-and-half is used instead of whole milk. Rich and luxurious, a breve is a cozy beverage perfect for a cold or rainy day. 


An affogato is a lesser-known but fantastic coffee-based dessert many people have yet to try. It is a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, resulting in a unique blend of flavors and temperatures that will satisfy your taste buds. If you're looking for a treat that combines the richness of coffee with the smooth creaminess of ice cream, an affogato is a perfect choice!

Any good coffee or espresso drink starts with delicious beans. Explore our selection of Torke Family Coffee Roasters coffee for everything from seasonal flavors to single-origin roasts.

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