Get us in your inbox

Advanced espresso: Five drinks every true espresso lover should know

Written by
Marcia Gagliardi

You’ve had a ristretto, a macchiato, an affogato for dessert, and yes, even a pumpkin spice latte (we won’t tell). But there are some other excellent and insider espresso drinks you can add to your lineup, and we also tell you where you can find them.  


This little number is a very rich mixture of espresso with steamed half and half (so, half cream, half milk). You can order it as a breve latte, or even breve cappuccino. But be careful, you just may love this rich wonder a bit too much. Seriously, you may need to skip the rest of your breakfast. And lunch.

Where to get it: All you have to do is ask (even Starbucks can make it). If your barista has never heard of a breve, then order something more traditional, like a cappuccino or even a flat white (more on that below).


This Latin American import (in Cuba, it’s known as a cortadito) is a shot of espresso with an equal amount of steamed milk, almost a mini-latte—the name means “cut,” which is what the milk is doing to the acidity of the espresso. It’s usually served in a straight-sided glass (although in Cuba, you can have it served in a small glass with a metal cage and handle). In Australia, you may also find their version of the cortado, the piccolo latte, but everyone likes to argue over its proportions, so we’ll just leave it as a mini latte made with one shot of espresso.

Where to get it: Abraço is famous for bringing this one into the limelight in New York, and small batch–roaster Panther Coffee in Miami has you covered at their three cafés.

Flat white

Sure, Starbucks put it on their menu and so now most milky espresso drink lovers know about this Antipodean import (although Australia and New Zealand strongly contend over who invented it first). It’s basically a creamier, more velvety version of a latte (with less foam than a cappuccino), with two shots, and typically it’s served in a cappuccino cup instead of a pint glass—or at least a smaller cup.

Where to get it: errrrywhere.


A barista at Blue Bottle in San Francisco created this off-the-menu and very balanced drink, about 4.5 ounces of espresso and steamed milk—it’s a lot like a cortado, and was designed to be fast for a barista to consume and get back to work. It takes its name after the 4.5-ounce Libbey “Gibraltar” glass it’s served in—so it’s not a drink you can get to go.

Where to get it: You can order a Gibraltar at Blue Bottle Coffee locations around the U.S., and if you see an SG-120 on their menu, it’s the same drink (again, it’s named after the glass it comes in). There are many specialty espresso shops around the country who can make a Gibraltar for you (remember, it’s typically an off-menu item).

Another place playing with glass nomenclature is Four Barrel in San Francisco, which calls its seasonal off-menu drink the Gigogne, named after the Duralex tumbler—it ranges from an iced coffee with salted cacao bitters to a pumpkin spice latte made with their own pumpkin syrup.


A caffè shakerato is an import from Italy, a relatively simple combination of a shot of espresso, simple syrup and ice given a good, hard, long shake in a cocktail shaker—and in Italy, it’s often served in a martini glass. What you get is a frothy, chilled wonder, which lends itself well to additions like alcohol and syrups too. Hang onto this one for warm weather.

Where to find it: Belly up to the Lavazza bar at Eataly locations in New York and Chicago, and if you’re in San Francisco, ex-bartender and now owner of Grand Coffee, Nabeel Silmi, shakes up a mean one. You’ll often find it on café menus in the summer.

What’s next:

There are many places doing interesting espresso drinks around the nation, here are a few that caught our eye:

Go Get Em Tiger and G&B Coffee in Los Angeles make their own almond-macadamia nut milk, which goes swimmingly with a cold brew coffee (or in a latte).

Irving Farm in New York has the Blackstrap Soda, which is their Blackstrap Espresso combined with Saratoga sparkling water, housemade chocolate and vanilla syrups and cream, served over ice.

Bolt Coffee Co in Providence, RI, has a loyal following for their espresso tonic which is...espresso and tonic. Super simple, but people are nuts about it.

The Sentient Bean in Savannah, GA, is known for its morning smoothie with peanut butter, banana and espresso—talk about a liquid breakfast.

Recommended feature

The best coffee shops in America See the best coffee shops in America

You may also like
You may also like