Espresso, a small highly concentrated shot of perfectly-balanced flavours that can give you a quick energy boost any time of the day.
And beyond that, it is also the first ingredient for many espresso-based drinks, such as a Latte, Cappuccino, Flat White, or an Americano.
But the options don’t end there.
Baristas around the world have created many espresso recipes suited to satisfy different tastes and cravings.
If you’re ready to venture out further than the classic espresso-based drinks and try different flavours of unique coffee drinks that are all easy to make at home, read this article.
With only a few ingredients and an espresso machine, you can whip up these 20 bold espresso drinks the next time you crave a caffeine hit.
How many espresso drinks from the list have you tried already and which ones will you put next on your to-do list?
If you want to know how to make espresso drinks, you will first need to nail your espresso recipe. And even if you have been making coffee with your espresso machine for a while now, it’s good to be reminded of the basics.
Before we dive into my 20 bold espresso drink recipes, here is the basic guide on how to brew a shot of espresso in a manual machine:
- Wipe down portafilter, place it on scale and tare to zero
- Dose around 20 grams of finely ground coffee beans, depending on the espresso recipe
- Level out the coffee grounds and tamp with a tamper
- Flush the espresso machine and let the hot water pour for around 3 seconds to get rid of any old coffee sediment
- Insert your portafilter into the machine and start brewing
- The perfect shot should be extracted in around 30 seconds
Note: If the brewing lasts more than 35 seconds, the grind is too fine, which can make the coffee taste bitter, and if it’s less than 25 seconds, the grind is too coarse, causing an under-extracted sour coffee taste.
Adjust the settings until you find the perfect grind for coffee brewing.
If you’re looking for a more detailed guide, check out this espresso for beginners guide.
20 Bold Espresso Coffee Drinks To Make At Home
Here are my 20 picks on the best espresso drinks to try making at home to change up your coffee routine.
1. Long Black
Before we dive into the more complicated espresso drinks, I wanted to introduce you to this classic coffee beverage originating from Australia, that is increasingly popular in cafes all around the world, the Long Black.
You might be asking the question: Is it the same as an Americano coffee? And the answer is – yes and no.
While the two drinks consist of the same ingredients, a double shot of espresso and hot water, they differ in the brewing method.
While an Americano is a double shot of espresso topped with hot water, when making a Long Black, you reverse the process and fill your cup with hot water first, before adding a double espresso on top.
Another difference is that a Long Black is generally smaller, typically served in an 8oz cup.
Does this subtle change alter the taste, you ask? Yes. In comparison with an Americano, a Long Black is more intense, has a stronger aroma, mouthfeel and taste.
If you typically drink espressos but want to start experimenting with different espresso drinks at home, your first stop could be making a Ristretto.
The name of this drink means “restricted” in Italian and it is basically a short espresso shot. To make your own Ristretto, all you need to do is stop the brewing process at around 15-20 seconds, instead of the usual 30.
This results in a smaller drink that is sweeter, thicker, less bitter, more intense and flavourful.
This classic chocolatey coffee is made of a shot of espresso, which is mixed with chocolate syrup or powder, filled with steamed milk and topped up with chocolate flakes.
While some people might like to add whipped cream, it is not necessary and the milk and the chocolate in combination with the coffee, create an indulgent drink that will curb your afternoon cravings.
4. Bone Dry Cappuccino
Everyone is familiar with a Cappuccino, which is an espresso topped with equal parts of steamed milk and foam. But what about Bone Dry Cappuccino?
This variation on the classic drink differs from the original by the fact that it contains no steamed milk, just foam. This results in a stronger and lighter beverage.
5. Iced Cappuccino
While we’re covering the Cappuccino variations, the Iced Cappuccino deserves a special mention too.
To make this delicious summer drink, pour one shot of espresso over ice, add milk and layer foam on top. You can add steamed foam without impacting the temperature of the final drink or add your own homemade cold foam on top.
6. Caffe Affogato
Affogato is undoubtedly one of the best desserts for coffee lovers, satisfying your taste buds while giving you a boost of energy.
It consists of one scoop of vanilla gelato ice cream, topped with a shot of espresso, which is poured over the top. You can also add toppings such as crushed biscuits if you’re feeling extra indulgent.
Galao coffee is a Portuguese invention consisting of one part espresso and three parts of hot steamed milk, similar to a latte.
The difference between a Portuguese Galao and a Latte is that the Portuguese version is served in a tall glass and is milkier and lighter than a traditional latte.
Pair this drink with the traditional Portuguese custard tart for the ultimate cultural experience.
Macchiato is a small but flavourful drink popular among coffee connoisseurs. It consists of a single shot of espresso topped with 1-2 tablespoons of layered foam on top, often served in a demitasse cup.
While some people like to add a dash of steamed milk to their Macchiato, the original recipe strictly calls that for foam without any milk.
Another small espresso creation on the list is the Cortado, a Spanish drink increasingly popular in the rest of the world.
Cortado is consists of equal amounts of espresso and steamed milk, for example, two ounces of steamed milk for a double shot of espresso.
This combination creates a robust and silky beverage with a much stronger coffee taste than in a flat white or a latte.
Even though all the espresso drinks are bound to give you a jolt of energy, this one is extra strong and not for the faint-hearted.
The Red Eye Coffe has a fitting name and might leave you red-eyed because of its high caffeine content but is a great choice for the days when you require an extra boost.
To make a Red Eye coffee, combine a cup of standard drip coffee with a single or a double shot of espresso. Sounds lethal? As I said – not for the faint-hearted.
Looking for a refreshing fizzy drink with a dash of coffee, look no further! Espresso tonic has a citrusy electric flavour, perfect for a hot summer day.
As the name suggests, the Espresso Tonic consists of 100-150ml of the tonic with a double espresso shot on top. You can garnish the drink with a lemon slice to bring out the citrusy taste even more.
12. Espresso Con Panna
This drink, which literally means “espresso with cream” in Italian consists of an espresso shot topped with a tablespoon of whipped cream.
The combination of rich and bitter espresso with sweet cream is satisfying and the small serving means that the drink is not too heavy, ideal as a small dessert after a meal.
13. Espresso Breve
If you don’t want to have full whipped cream with your espresso, you can make Espresso Breve and instead of the cream top it off with a small amount of heated steamed light cream or half and half.
This beverage is still strong and rich, with a subtle delicious sweetness from the cream.
14. Cafe Bombon (Cafe Bonbon)
This espresso drink comes from Spain and you can make it by combining a shot of espresso with an equal amount of condensed milk.
The two liquids stay separated until you stir them together and the bitterness of the espresso combined with the sweet condensed milk create a tasty little treat.
15. Vietnamese Iced Coffee or Cà Phê Sua Da
Vietnamese coffee is traditionally made in their own filter brewer when coffee drips straight into condensed milk. Cà Phê Sua Da is its espresso variation which is made with an espresso shot instead of the brewed coffee.
This coffee is made in a clear short glass with condensed milk at the bottom, a big ice cube and an espresso float on top, as it is traditionally served in Hanoi.
But don’t let that limit you and make your own variation of the Vietnamese coffee by combining the condensed milk and the double espresso. You can blend it, layer it, or serve it with plenty of ice, the choice is yours.
Egg Coffee is another innovative beverage originating from Vietnam, a country with incredible coffee culture.
The crazy idea of combining eggs with coffee came out of a necessity during the milk shortage in the 1940s in Vietnam, where it was discovered as an alternative solution.
Today, Egg Coffee is still served in Vietnam and is a popular tourist attraction who taste this traditional beverage as a part of the cultural experience.
To make Vietnamese Egg Coffee, combine egg yolks with sugar, hot water, and around 4 tablespoons of condensed milk and mix it in a blender until it doubles in size and reaches a frothy consistency.
Even though you might think it sounds weird, this drink is surprisingly tasty and very sweet, similar to the traditional Vietnamese coffee that uses condensed milk.
17. Dirty Chai Latte
Chai Latte is a popular non-caffeinated drink, which is a milky tea from India, spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, star anise, and sometimes nutmeg, pepper, and coriander.
To make the “dirty” version, all you have to do is add a shot of espresso into the spiced tea, creating a drink with a delightful balance of bitter and sweet flavours.
The first alcoholic drink from this list is Irish coffee, which is made in a tall latte glass.
To make an Irish coffee, combine an ounce of Irish whiskey with sweetened brewed coffee, topped with a layer of thick cream on top, using the back of a spoon, and garnished with a coffee bean.
Bear in mind that sweetening the coffee is essential since the sugar helps to layer the cream on top.
19. Espresso Martini
Looking for some more alcoholic drinks to stay caffeinated? The Espresso Martini is one of the most popular coffee cocktails which will give you the energy for the whole night.
To make an Espresso Martini, you’ll need to combine 50ml of vodka, 35ml of coffee liqueur, 2 espresso shots, 5-10 ml of sugar syrup, with ice and mix it in a cocktail shaker to achieve the foamy consistency.
Since this drink is so popular, there are many variations of this recipe and you can substitute the vodka for a different spirit, such as rum or even bourbon.
Just be careful not to drink too many of these, since most of them contain a double shot of espresso, which means also a solid caffeine kick.
20. Melbourne Magic
You’ve made it to the end of this espresso drink guide, which means you’re really keen on discovering different espresso drinks.
For this, I will reward you with an espresso recipe that is not that well known and comes from the city with one of the best coffee cultures in the world, Melbourne.
The Melbourne Magic is an “unofficial” espresso drink and also a best-kept secret among the Melbourne specialty cafes.
You can make it by combining a double Ristretto shot and steamed milk. Not to the top though!
The Melbourne Magic is meant to be served in a small 5-ounce cup, which means ¾ full in most cups.
This stronger coffee to milk ratio results that this drink being more intense than a Flat White or a Cappuccino, which is also smoother because of the use of Ristrettos instead of espressos.
So what’s your score – how many of these espresso machine recipes have you tried already? And which one will you be experimenting with next?
Thirsty for more?
For more innovative espresso beverages, explore our brewing guides inside the coffee lab and get inspired by the published recipes and discover even more espresso flavours.
And if you don’t know how to make a certain drink, ask a question in the forum and someone from our community will be able to help.