Coffee Drinks (Types And Recipes)

Coffee Better Brewing, drinking

There are so many different types of coffee drinks that it can feel like it’s very own language. Ask your professor or boss if you can get extra credit for learning the language of coffee.

Knowing the difference between coffee drinks can make you look like you know what you’re talking about in a coffee shop.It’s easy to feel overwhelmed though, mocha this frappe that. What does it all mean?

It’s really not that hard. One thing that may comfort you is to know that most of these drinks are simply a combo of espresso and milk, a classic combo.

You may start to notice a trend that lots of shops are going to a much simpler menu. One that’s black coffee or white coffee. Since a lot of these drinks are pretty similar. Sometimes it’s just a matter of the order in which you add the ingredients and the ratios of each ingredient.

Whether you’re looking to make these drinks at home or just feel confident when you walk into a shop this article will help you out.

One thing to keep in mind while reading this is that  these coffee drinks and their ratios may vary from shop to shop and also change depending on what part of the world you are living in. Especially the flat white, that’s a rather tricky drink to nail down the exact meaning of, what I can tell you is that a starbucks flat white is not what an Aussie flat white is!

Different Coffee Drinks

coffee drinks cafe latte

Cafe Latte

  • 1 shot espresso
  • 6-8oz of steamed milk
  • A tiny layer of foamed milk on top to finish the drink

A latte! One of the many classic coffee drinks on the list. A Barista favorite, you may have noticed that Instagram is full of latte art, there are even multiple tournaments surrounding the latte. Latte art throwdowns as they are called in the community!

The Cafe latte is a two ingredient drink; Espresso and milk.

Here in the United States we use espresso as the base to a latte but if you’re over in Italy it’s normally tradition to use a moka pot as the base for this coffee drink.  

Coffee Brewing Methods

The next step would be to “stretch” or steam your milk. This is what is going on when you see the barista placing the steam wand in to their pitcher of milk. The steam wand is introducing warm air into the milk and the milk will actually expand, so be sure to leave a little room in your pitcher.

The steam wand is not only adding air to your milk but it is also warming it, steaming milk is another larger topic that requires another article all to itself.  

So the basics of milk for a latte are to try and avoid adding lots of bubbles to your milk. you’re not looking for much foam. Some tiny bubbles, or micro foam on the top of the drink is ok but larger bubbles are something to avoid when preparing milk for a latte.

coffee drinks Cappuccino. Espresso steamed milk and frothed milk


A cappuccino and a latte differ in one way and that is all in the way the milk is prepared. Again, it’s just espresso and milk but this time when your milk is being stretched with the steam wand, the barista will add more air into the milk than with a latte.This makes your milk more foamy.  So a cappuccino is basically just a latte, with the same ratio of milk to espresso but a portion of that milk will get purposefully  more bubbles put into it and it will finish the drink on top.

The ratio for a proper Cappuccino is:

  • ⅓ espresso
  • ⅓ steamed milk
  • ⅓ frothed milk.

Because of the extra foam added to the milk it affects the way that the coffee and milk interact. The espresso will mix with less steamed milk than with a latte, for this reason a cappuccino may taste like more coffee has been used but in actuality it’s the same amount of coffee and milk but the way the milk has been prepared will give you a sense you are drinking a “stronger” coffee drink.


Flat white

The flat white is a drink that has been brought to us from somewhere down unda, Either Australia or New Zealand(there’s a debate going). A flat white is something that is going to change depending on where you go. These coffee drinks are described as a “stronger latte”. In my experience what I have found is that a flat white is similar to a latte but the milk has been finished different. It’s once again milk and espresso but the milk should be prepared to have lots of micro foam infused into it not just sitting on the top. This requires aerating the milk early, before it’s been heated. You will know that you have the proper milk texture when it looks somewhat like latex paint. If you tilt your pitcher around you should see some light shining off of the milk at certain angles. This will give you a nice smooth,flat looking texture on top of the drink. Like a Late, but minus the small foamy finish.

  • ⅓ espresso(usually a double shot)
  • ⅔ steamed milk

A flat white is actually something that is a big debate, the guys and gals from down under take pride in their drink and seem to disagree with what we Americans know as a flat white. If you were to ask them, size of your glass is a HUGE deal when ordering a flat white, that’s not something we seem to worry about here in the States too much. According to the Kiwis and the Aussies a flat white should be served in a 6oz glass and be a double shot of espresso. If you were to order a flat white from Starbucks you’re not getting anything smaller than an 8oz short, and you will get Ristretto shots instead of normal espresso shots in your drink.



This word simply means, restricted in Italian. This is similar to an espresso shot but the pull time is much less. A typical espresso shot is made by forcing hot water through compacted coffee for anywhere between 25-35 seconds. A ristretto is usually made by using the same amount of coffee as an espresso but the extraction time and quantity given is less. According to Cafe Brit, they use 7 grams of coffee and pull a shot for about 15 seconds giving them a 1 ounce ristretto. It’s basically just the first half of an espresso shot. Coffee prepared this way will give you a much sweeter.smooth taste with less of a chance to pick up the bitter notes in the coffee because of the shortened extraction time. Normally you can ask for this in any espresso based drink as an espresso replacement.  



Another quick Italian lessen, affogato comes from the word ”affogare” which means “to drown”. This is a dessert drink that is made by drowning a scoop of vanilla gelato in a shot of espresso. You can use vanilla ice cream if you want, while it won’t be a “traditional affogato” it will still be delicious. If you want to spice it up a little more throw in a shot of amaretto.  


Long black/Americano

An Americano is made by adding hot water to a shot of espresso.

  • ⅓ espresso
  • ⅔ hot water

This gives you a taste similar to standard black coffee you would get from a drip machine. You may have heard of the term long black as well, these two drinks are similar. Both having the exact same amount of coffee and water. The only difference is the order in which they are combined. When making an Americano you pull a shot of espresso into a cup and then add the water. When making a long black you should add the water to the cup first and then pull a shot of espresso into that water. The slight difference is that with a long black the crema will be more intact and not broken apart when adding the water. I think that the taste difference is very minimal.



  • Shot of espresso
  • Dash of foamed milk

This is a super simple drink, usually served in a small glass. The word macchiato in Italian means ”marked”. This is an espresso based drink that can be served as a single or double shot and is “marked” with a little bit of milk foam. This might be a little confusing especially since starbucks serves venti sized macchiatos. These over sized macchiatos are often”late macchiatos”. Not the same thing, their drink is “marked” by espresso instead of the espresso being marked by a dab of milk foam.

The traditional macchiato is a nice way of enjoying a shot of espresso, this kiss of milk foam is just enough to take the edge off of the espresso.



A cortado, once again milk and espresso is made by adding equal parts of espresso to milk, normally served in a 4oz cup.

  • Double shot of espresso(2oz)
  • 2oz of steamed milk

Sometimes it is served as a 1:2 ratio instead of a 1:1. Usually not a lot of foam is used in making a cortado but depending on the shop you go to there may be a little bit of micro foam used to make latte art. Often drank in the afternoon in Spain and Portugal this is a strong drink and has a flavor somewhere in between a macchiato and a latte.



Sometimes referred to as a Cafe Mocha is a lot like making a latte except you add some coaco powder to the mix.

  • Chocolate in some form(powder, shavings or syrup)
  • ⅓ espresso
  • ⅔ steamed milk

In a lot of cafes since they deal with a heavy volume it’s easier and quicker for them to just add chocolate syrup to their lattes. Those aren’t the only options though, some people like to use real chocolate shavings in the bottom of their glass.

The order in which you put the ingredients together will depend on the type of chocolate you’re choosing. If you are going to use a nice cocoa powder, add a tablespoon(or how much ever you prefer) and mix it with some warm water first.You can then pull your shot of espresso on top of that. Mix together a bit and then add your milk.

If you’re using chocolate syrup, I recommend using real, high quality chocolate syrup instead of your standard hersheys that is more high fructose corn syrup than chocolate. Pull your shot of espresso, add as much syrup as you would like,mix and then your milk.

Play around, do you like syrup better or powder? Try adding dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Get fancy and finish it with a dusting of cocoa powder or cinnamon.


Cafe Bombon

These coffee drinks were made popular in Valencia, Spain. This coffee concoction is made of:

  • ½ espresso(or moka pot coffee)
  • ½ sweet condensed milk

This is a super simple coffee drink recipe that anybody can make. It will satisfy your sweet tooth and give you that caffeine fix you’re looking for. Normally it is made with half espresso and half condensed milk but, if you would like you can choose to use the moka pot to brew your coffee. All you have to do is put your condensed milk in your glass, add your coffee and mix! Super simple!


Irish Coffee

This might not be something that you will find in most cafes but I think it should be included because I think everybody needs to loosen up every once in awhile. Irish coffee is a sweet coffee drink including irish whiskey. I’m a big whiskey fan and I obviously love coffee, so this drink is right up my alley!

  • Hot coffee
  • Brown sugar
  • Irish whiskey(jameson)
  • Whipped cream

First things first, add as much brown sugar as you would like, I prefer to add at least a teaspoon per 6 ounces of coffee. After you have added your sugar add your coffee, you can add whatever coffee you would like. I have seen some people make it with cold brew and other with a standard drip coffee. Choose your favorite. After the coffee has been added give it a little mix to dissolve the sugar. Now, time to add your Irish whiskey, add at least a shot(maybe two :)). At this point it’s time to finish off your drink with a nice whipped cream finish. It’s a nice touch to make your own whipped cream. Just take a little bit of heavy whipping cream and lightly whip for about 20 seconds with an electric whipper or beat it by hand with a whisk until you can see some light peaks. Finish this drink off with a top layer of this whipped cream. This drink is sure to warm you up and make you feel great!

Take Aways

Most coffee drinks have two ingredients, espresso and milk. What makes them all different is the ratio between the two and the way the milk has been prepared. An affogato is ice cream and espresso, super easy and super delicious. A mocha is basically a chocolate latte and everybody is arguing about what a flat white is.

Hopefully now you can feel a little more confident walking into a cafe or you’re ready to go make some of these recipes at home. If there is a coffee drink that you don’t know what it is and it’s not on the list contact us, find us on instagram or facebook and let us know.

This site is dedicated to building the coffee community and would like to help accomplish that in any way.