A Breakdown Of The Different Varieties of Espresso

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.

Finding The Highest Quality Coffee Beans For Your Coffee

A delicious and fresh cup of coffee cannot be beaten. Whether you are an avid coffee drinker or new to enjoying a delicious cup of quality coffee, one thing is for sure is the coffee wouldn’t be the same without a high-quality coffee bean. Since the actual taste of the coffee comes from bean, there’s no way the coffee itself will ever be better than the bean will allow, which is why we believe so heavily in finding the right bean. By doing so, you can maximize the inherent flavor and complex blends of taste, especially when they are only a few days from being roasted.

Unfortunately, many people get sold on things like origin, brand name, marketing labels and bag colors and details, versus simply focusing on the actual quality of the bean itself. For that reason, we have written a few things to consider when determining what makes a quality coffee bean and how it is packaged to ensure the quality is retained until it arrives at your doorstep.

Here are some quick tips that will help in identifying some higher quality beans to meet the demand of even the most experienced gourmet coffee drinker…

Focus On Arabica Beans
There are two primary types of coffee bean, the robust and the arabica bean. Both of these are rather different and have varying levels of taste and flavors. That said, the Robusta beans are typically less expensive and often offer two times as much caffeine as the arabica beans, but the quality of taste is significantly reduced.

Arabica beans are often more expensive, but the quality of taste is superior and the varieties of flavors, scents, and notes make them much more suitable for the gourmet coffee drinker and used more heavily by specialty coffee shops.

Confirm Place Of Origin
Though we mentioned above that place of origin can sometimes falsely make a coffee bean sound more quality than it actually is, we have found that a roaster who is truly invested in the process of properly preparing the bean tends to list the country, farm and variety of that bean.

This is why we recommend looking for roasters who are proud of their coffee since it’s a sign that they have done their due diligence in the vetting process to select only the best coffee beans for their gourmet coffee fans. This can sometimes mean they are even willing to specify all the way down to the farmer’s name, but with more and more anonymity requests, this is rather rare to see.

Know The Roast Date
One of the most important factors to the quality of taste for any bean, no matter the initial quality, place of origin, and other factors, is the roast date. Having an old roast date is like purchasing outdated bread…it might have a similar smell and texture, but the taste and difference in freshness is immediately noticeable. One of the major rules of thumb is to search for bags that say the exact date the coffee was roasted, or order your coffee directly from a coffee roaster that will roast the bags fresh THE DAY YOU ORDER!

The “best by” date really just tells you when the coffee beans are likely to lose some of the flavor and potentially become “stale” tasting, but nothing beats having freshly roasted coffee beans that are used within 1 week from when the coffee was roasted. This is also why you will typically see “best if used one week from opening” since once the bag is opened, the beans are then exposed to the elements allowing the taste and quality to slowly diminish over time.

Ensure Bag Has One-Way Valve
This brings us to our final tip for the highest quality coffee bean. As mentioned in point three above, if the coffee bean isn’t fresh, it will be difficult to obtain the highest quality of coffee when extracting it from the bean. For this reason, higher quality gourmet coffee roasters ensure their coffee beans and ground coffee is stored in a bag with a one-way valve.

One-way valves allow the coffee beans to rid of any unwanted gas while preventing any oxygen from entering the bag, thus resulting in enhanced freshness for a longer period of time. Other coffee manufacturers or roasters might package their coffee in tin cans or other packaging methods without a one-way valve, preventing this level of freshness from being maintained.

Where To Buy Quality Coffee Beans?

Fresh Coffee Roasters (Both Local & National)
For the reasons called out above, we highly recommend looking for quality coffee roasters either in your local town or someone with the capability of freshly roasting your coffee the same day as your order, thus allowing your coffee to be as fresh as possible upon being received.

Unfortunately, coffee shops like Starbucks or purchasing even the most gourmet coffee from your local grocery store will not be able to yield the same level of freshness, simply due to the time it takes for the coffee manufacturer to produce, roast, grind, bag, label, and then ship the product, which is also built for a longer shelf-life since most retailers have limitations on the speed of expiration to avoid having wasted inventory.

This is why we recommend looking for local or national coffee roasters that guarantee they will roast the coffee the same day as the order, or at least provide a roast date that is relatively recent. You would also want to confirm shipping time since if it takes over 48 hours to ship the product, that’s 48 hours that the roasted coffee loses freshness, when you can order from someone like Calvine’s Coffee who will roast the coffee the same day it ships!

Local Coffee Shops
In some instances you can request this from your local coffee shop, but if you do, you will want to confirm the origin of the coffee and the roast date. If the employee doesn’t know about either of these items, you can safely assume it’s not something they focus on, so is likely not the quality you would want.

Local Internet Listings
If for some reason you can’t find a local roaster or quality coffee shop that offers local or national coffee freshly roasted, go online and check out a number of other options available. That said, there are a number of options to choose from when it comes to desired taste and quality, but our recommendation would be to do your homework, check out the roasters with the above focuses on both quality and freshness and order from them if you truly want the maximum quality of coffee bean without jeopardizing the wallet.

No matter who you choose for your gourmet coffee bean desires, we hope you enjoy your delicious daily cup of coffee and we hope you found this article informative! Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have or feedback you have pertaining to this article or a potential future article you think we should share our thoughts on.

You can learn more about Calvine’s Coffee and various coffee options HERE, or shop our various gourmet coffee options HERE.