Espresso

An espresso is the purest form of strong coffee (other than it’s sibling, the ristretto) that there is. To make a shot of espresso, a hot pressurised jet of water is forced through a dense puck of fine ground coffee, extracted in 30 seconds into a demitasse, with a seductive brown frothy layer of crema on top. What you have is the most sensuous experience which is nothing short of art and science dancing together in the small stage of your demitasse.

Shot of Espresso

Ristretto

The ristretto, also known as the ‘short shot’ is prepared much like it’s twin, the espresso but with half or three quarters of the amount of water than you would normally use in a single shot espresso, It flows through the portafilter into the demitasse and what you get is a more concentrated from of the traditional 1 fl oz espresso shot. Some coffee aficionados claim that the ristretto is the ‘true espresso’.

The ristretto can be made by two different ways –

  1. By pulling the shot like you would an espresso – same grind, same water pressure, same amount of coffee, but pulling it out at 15 seconds rather than the 30 second mark.
  2. By using a finer grind so that the extraction takes the same amount of time as an espresso shot would.

Both methods have their fanbases, so you can try each method and see which one works for your palette. The ristretto is a viscous, very smooth, and very strong brew of coffee and the texture is like syrup. It is actually a bit less bitter or in fact sweeter (if your sense of taste for coffee tones is experienced) than an espresso. This is because the less water and the shorter extraction time (if you consider the 1st method) and different components of aroma and flavor are extracted at different time intervals.

Lungo

Lungo also known as the ‘long shot’, it is the other sibling of the ristretto and the espresso, but unlike the ristretto which uses half of the water used in an espresso shot, the lungo uses twice the amount of water. The result is a more bitter shot which is due to the extra extraction that the coffee ground has to go undergo. While some may be put off by bitterness, the lungo allows more of the flavour to play in the coffee than a regular espresso shot. Different, but not is a ‘good vs bad’ way. All three siblings are unique in their own right and try all of them out to see which you like best!

Doppio

This is a double shot espresso, which means it’s basically two shots of espresso served in a single demitasse. This is without any surprise, a very strong brew of coffee, highly concentrated and with a thick crema.

Americano

There’s a story behind this brew, and it goes like this –

During WWII, there were a lot of American soldiers stationed in Italy, and the Italians were brewing their native version of coffee, the espresso. This was surprising to the Americans who didn’t appreciate the native’s love for strong, bitter coffee. So, much to the Italian’s dismay, they added hot water to it and voila – the Americano.

The Americano is a strong, dark, coffee which is made by combining a single shot espresso with 2 shots of hot water. This is why a proper Americano has a thin crema layer. By adding the espresso over a cup of hot water instead of the reverse order, the coffee preserves a lot of more of the crema, giving it a more rounded and creamier texture.

Cappuccino

This is the most popular coffee drink in the world! Made using equal parts – espresso, steamed milk and frothy milk. This is actually the standard method of making a cappuccino, however there are three more variants of this which are quite delicious. These are –

  1. Wet Cappuccino. This is called ‘wet’ due to its extra steamed milk content and reduced frothy milk layer. This is sweeter than the regular cappuccino.
  2. Dry Cappuccino. The steamed milk portion is reduced as compared to the regular cappuccino, and more frothy milk is added. Hence it is less sweet.
  3. Bone Dry Cappuccino. No steamed milk, just an espresso shot followed by a large serving of frothy milk. This brew is bitter and allows more of the espresso flavour to be experienced.
capuccino

Espresso Macchiato or Piccolo Latte

The name Macchiato means ‘marked’ in Italian, which is characteristic of this form of espresso because of the ‘mark’ the frothy milk layer makes on the crema of the espresso. This drink is made by brewing a shot of espresso and adding a dot of frothy milk.

Espresso Con Panna

Here we get to espresso variants made using cream. Espresso Con Panna is made by adding a layer of whipped cream over a shot of espresso.

Cafe Breve

Made similar to an Espresso Con Panna, the Cafe Breve is made by adding a layer of light cream instead of whipped to an espresso shot.

Latte

Also known as ‘Cafe au lait’, which means, ‘milk coffee’. It is a very popular drink due to it’s sweet and mellow flavour. It is made with a single part espresso, 3 to 5 part steam milk and a part of frothy milk on top. If you do not add frothy milk, the drink is called ‘Flat White’.

It’s common to see cafes serve lattes with ‘coffee art’ drawn on to the foamy layer on top using ‘microfoam’ milk (which is made by adding steam to milk and rapidly heating it. This makes the fat and the sugars in the milk break down into smaller, simple sugars making the milk sweeter and creamier.

Cafe Mocha

Cafe Mocha, also known as the ‘mocaccino‘, is another extremely popular drink, famous because of its unique flavour. A firework of sweet, bitter and espresso tones mingling with the rich flavour of chocolate. It is similar to the latte, instead, chocolate syrup is added to it. The quantity of the parts of espresso, chocolate syrup, steam and foam milk can be varied to obtain different flavours, or used in different variants like the wet, dry and bone dry versions of the cappuccino.

Affogato

Here’s where we get a bit crazy. The Affogato is made by pulling an espresso shot over a scoop of vanilla ice cream! This is a unique drink and an excellent mood relaxer. You can make the drink more intense by pulling a doppio over the icecream instead of an espresso.

Irish Coffee

If someone suggested they should add whiskey to their coffee, they’d be mad or drunk. They probably where because that’s how Irish coffee came into existence. The recipe varies with respect to the bartender, and it’s best to advise you – Do not mix scotch whisky with hot instant coffee. That would be a horrible mistake.

Long Black

This coffee is quite similar to the Americano, however it has a stronger taste and aroma. It is more common in New Zealand and Australia. It is made by pulling a doppio and pouring it slowly over a cup of hot water. This makes for a strong, rich cup of coffee, with more aroma and a thicker crema than an Americano.

Galao

This an exotic version of espresso made in Portugal. It is made using 1 part espresso mixed with 3 parts foamed milk and served in a tall glass. Since foamed milk is used instead of steamed milk, the resulting drink is not creamy but more frothy. Nonetheless it is an interesting variant of coffee and is usually served with small sweets.

Vienna

This is a strong coffee drink made using a doppio shot followed by generous serving of whipped cream to sweeten the drink. Milk and foamed milk is not used and this is why the sharp contrast between the flavours of the whipped cream and the doppio are observed beautifully.