With such a large variety in the types of coffee, many can get lost in the various names, styles and coffee types. This guide will help in understanding some of these varieties by starting with a breakdown of the Espresso based drinks.

So What is an espresso based drink? An espresso based drink is a coffee that is made with a cappuccino machine and shares three main ingredients – espresso, steamed milk, and foam. The different varieties of espresso coffee beverages are based on the proportions of each of these ingredients. Outside of these three base ingredients, there can be also be additional ingredients to decorate and accent the beverage. In some instances, items like chocolate, cinnamon or other flavorings can be added, but the base ingredients will remain the same.

As a way to help better understand the different coffee drinks before we get into the details of an espresso drink, we have borrowed a great infographic from Latte Art Guide to break down the most common coffee drinks at a high level.

Now to break down the various types of espresso drinks, here are some of the most common espresso beverages.

Espresso “Short Black”

The espresso consists of 1 shot of espresso. The espresso shot is the staple of any espresso drink so without it, the drink cannot be successfully crafted. This is why a quality “short black” espresso drink needs to be done to perfection.

Double Espresso “Doppio”

A Double Espresso “Doppio” is a double shot of espresso, so it is crafted by doubling a standard espresso shot. As mentioned above, since the quality of this beverage will be based on the quality of the espresso shot, it will be important to get the taste and quality of the single espresso right in order to successfully make this beverage.

Short Macchiato

A short macchiato is a shot of espresso, a dollop of steamed milk and foam at the top. You will notice the three distinct layers in the image above, which is the most common way of distinguishing this drink.

It has similarities to a standard short macchiato but is smoothed out through the dollop of steamed milk and foam to help lesson the richness of the espresso. Some baristas will make this slightly different from the ways expressed above, but this is the most common way of crafting the drink.

Long Macchiato

A Long Macchiato consists of 2 shots of espresso, a dollop of steamed milk and foam on top. The main difference between a long macchiato and a short macchiato is the double shot of espresso, similar to the “doppio” vs. the “short black” listed above. Again, you will see the distinct layers of each portion of this drink.


A Ristretto is the combination of a standard espresso drink half that amount of water. It will result in a more concentrated and darker version of a standard shot of espresso.

Long Black “Americano”

A Long Black “Americano” is 2/3rds hot water and 1 shot of espresso extracted on top of the hot water.  

Café Latte

A Café Latte, aka “latte”, is 1 shot of espresso, steamed milk, topped with 1cm of micro-foam. This drink is intended for someone who wants the strength of an espresso shot but would prefer a sweeter taste.