The Best Ways to Do Espresso

By Guest Blogger Colleen Luckett

National Espresso Day is November 23, and outside my November 22 birthday, it’s perhaps the best day of the year! Are you ready for it? If not, here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy espresso, courtesy of the lovely folks at Gear Patrol Magazine.

Good old-fashioned espresso. First, I learned about the kind of shots used for espresso. No, not the kind of shot that’ll end with your head in a toilet . . . coffee shots. You have two choices you can sip with a friend in a moody café with your favorite dessert:

  • ristretto, a very short or “restrained” shot, brewed at less than 2/3 of a demitasse (or, small coffee cup)
  • luongo, a long pull of espresso brewed so the liquid should be more than 2/3 of a demitasse
Espresso shot_after pulling.jpg

Americano. Two shots of espresso pulled long on top of a touch of hot water that brings the consistency close to that of regular coffee (pictured below). This method creates a nice strong but smooth coffee taste. The "foam" at the top isn't steamed milk; it's the natural "crema" that forms when pulling espresso shots. 

Caffe Americano: two shots of espresso poured over hot water. The "foam" at the top isn't steamed milk; it's the natural "crema" that forms when pulling espresso shots. 

Espresso macchiato. Macchiato means spotted or stained; the espresso is “stained” with foam. So, foam-lovers, this one is for you. It’s basically a single espresso with a touch of foam, but it can be made as a double, too. (Note: go for the double. Always go for the double!)

Café latte or cappuccino. These two drinks vary the amount of steamed milk blended with espresso shots:

  • My standard go-to is the latte, hot or cold. For me, it’s just the right blend of 1/3 espresso and 2/3 milk, with a thin layer of foam. Enjoy with a big cookie, preferably one with M&Ms.
  • If you prefer a “dryer” drink, try a cappuccino, made in thirds: 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 foam. Your barista should blend or mix the milk and foam to create a thick, creamy texture. (The big cookie is still a great idea!)
Caffe Latte: 2/3 milk, 1/3 espresso, thin foam at top

Caffe Latte: 2/3 milk, 1/3 espresso, thin foam at top

Cappuccinos: 1/3 milk, 1/3 espresso, 1/3 foam

Cappuccinos: 1/3 milk, 1/3 espresso, 1/3 foam

Gibraltar (Cortado). Admittedly, I haven’t tried this one, but having read the following description at Gear Patrol, I want to now: “The perfect afternoon drink, or for that coffee drinker who wants something strong, but needs a little milk to soften the espresso as it goes down. This drink is between a macchiato and a cafe latte.” They say the milk should have the consistency of a cafe latte and have the same glassy, smooth, creamy texture as a cafe latte and cappuccino. Mmmm, sounds perfect.

Now, if you happen to find yourself in Italy—espresso capital of the world—on National Espresso Day . . . first, I’ll try not to hate you. Second, when you order an espresso, don’t use the word “espresso.” Apparently, this a technical term in Italian that refers to the default setting, and “single” is the default dose, so a single espresso is simply known as “un caffè”. And in no uncertain terms shall you ever ask for an “expresso.” In America, too. Be savvy.

To accompany your espresso drink, try one of our Kup Kaps--Thinsulate-insulated cup and mug lids that help you enjoy that hot paradise in a cup just a little longer.


So, on November 22, happy birthday to me. And on November 23, National Espresso Day, happy birthday to you because it will feel like your birthday from all that espresso energy! Have any other uses of espresso you'd like to share? Tell us about them in the Comments section below.

Sources for Espresso

For uses in drinks: Gear Patrol Magazine at, “An Illustrated Guide to 11 Espresso Drinks.”

For how to make it yourself:

Perry LuckettComment