Building out your own house menu is one of the best parts of the espresso journey. Much like knowing and memorizing how to make your favorite cocktail at home, having a few go-to drinks to reach for can make owning an espresso machine even more enjoyable. Keep it simple, or mix it up with some more complex drinks in this guide.

the classics

A concentrate made from coffee, served small and strong,
or used as the base for all other espresso drinks. 

  • Espresso, traditional or modern 

Simply add the desired amount of hot water to dilute the espresso to make an americano.
This drink was created for American soldiers in Italy who were looking for
something a little less strong than just a shot.  

  • Espresso, traditional or modern 
  • Hot water 

By adding just a mark of steamed milk on top of the espresso shot,
we can make it into a macchiato.  

  • Espresso, traditional or modern 
  • Steamed milk 

The cortado is enjoyed all over the world and although the exact ratios have regional variations,
it is commonly served in a small glass. 

  • Espresso, traditional or modern 
  • Steamed milk 

Next up is the ever so popular cappuccino!. Combining an espresso shot, steamed milk with a thick foam each taking up ⅓ of the cup. 

  • Espresso, traditional or modern 
  • Heavily textured steamed milk 

flat white 
If you like a smoother milk texture but want the cappuccino’s strength, the flat white a delicious choice and is often found in Australia and New Zealand. Starting with an espresso, then adding a velvety textured milk. 

  • Espresso, traditional or modern 
  • Lightly textured steamed milk 

If we add even more milk, we get the cafe latte. This is one of the most popular drinks in America and is majority milk (about ⅔ of the cup) with a shot of espresso and a small layer of foam on top. 

  • Espresso, traditional or modern 
  • Steamed milk 

specialty drinks

While classic lattes and cappuccinos are consistent crowd pleasers, having something special ready to go is always a good idea! 

espresso con panna 
This is a delicious simple drink that works well with a traditional espresso shot as the base then topped with a fluffy whipped cream. Bonus points if the whipped cream is homemade! 

  • Espresso, traditional  
  • Whipped cream 

This combination is straight out of Italy and one of the most decadent espresso drinks around. It consists of a scoop of gelato, topped with a shot of espresso. 

  • Espresso, traditional 
  • Vanilla gelato  

which menu items will you serve?  

A menu is usually a mixture of classic drinks and a few signature ones. But here’s the deal: every drink starts with a well-made espresso. Once we master espresso and milk, we’ve instantly unlocked all the classics plus a few signature options.