Espresso-based Coffee: Milk to Coffee Ratio and Water to Coffee Ratio

crazy by Editorial Staff | Updated on April 27th, 2023

Espresso-based coffee drinks have taken the world by storm, becoming increasingly popular in cafes and homes alike. However, navigating the array of options and coffee jargon can be daunting. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify the world of espresso, exploring how different drinks taste, the importance of ingredients, and the most popular espresso-based beverages. So, let’s dive into the exciting realm of espresso and learn how to make the perfect cup of coffee.


The Secret Behind Different Tastes: Ingredients and Brewing Techniques

The distinct taste of espresso-based drinks can be attributed to the quality of ingredients and brewing techniques. Like with any culinary endeavor, the type of milk and coffee used significantly impacts the flavor of your brew.

Milk to coffee ratio

Brewing your espresso also influences its taste. If your espresso is very diluted due to a larger brew ratio (1:3+), it may be more difficult to taste in milk drinks. For a more concentrated espresso (1:1.5), ristretto espressos are ideal, as they can cut through the sugars and fats of milk more effectively.

The amount of milk and foam you use can also transform the way espresso tastes. Milk, being full of fat, sugars, and water, can affect the overall experience:

  1. Fat coats the tongue, reducing the sensation of sour or dry tastes.
  2. Sugars help to balance any bitterness from the coffee.
  3. Water dilutes the flavors of the espresso.

Foam, on the other hand, changes the texture and flavor of the brew. The small air bubbles trapped in foam gradually pop as your beverage sits, releasing coffee aromas trapped in the milk and enhancing the flavor. A good foam also gives the drink a velvety, lush feel.

In this section, we will cover the most popular types of espresso-based drinks, their preparation, and the ideal ratios for each:

  1. Espresso
  2. Americano
  3. Macchiato
  4. Latte Macchiato
  5. Cappuccino
  6. Latte
  7. Cortado
  8. Flat White

1. Espresso

Espresso

Espresso is a highly concentrated coffee produced by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee. You can use any roast for making espresso, but medium-dark roasts typically yield great consistency, body, and flavor.

Preparing a double shot:

  • Use 18-20 grams of ground coffee (18g for a double basket, 20g for a triple basket).
  • Evenly distribute your grounds, tamp, insert the portafilter into the machine, and activate the pump.
  • Turn off the pump immediately after hitting 30 grams of liquid espresso. Adjust grind size accordingly if the espresso reaches 30 grams before 25 seconds or after 30 seconds.

2. Americano

An Americano is simply espresso topped with hot water, ideal for those who want to enjoy more of their espresso without diluting the flavor too much.

Preparing an Americano (1:4 Espresso to Water Ratio):

  • Brew one double shot of espresso.
  • Add 4 ounces of hot water to the espresso. Adjust the amount of water to your preference.

3. Macchiato

Macchiato

A Macchiato, meaning “marked,” is an espresso marked with a small amount of steamed milk, resulting in a 2-3 ounces classic Italian drink.

Preparing a Macchiato (1:1 Espresso to Milk Ratio):

  • Brew one double shot of espresso.
  • Steam about 3 ounces of milk, creating a foamier texture.
  • Swiftly add 1 ounce of steamed, foamy milk to the espresso. You can discard the remaining milk or use it as desired.

4. Latte Macchiato

Latte macchiato
latte macchiato black coffee milk espresso milk foam

A Latte Macchiato is another espresso-based drink, where a cup of steamed milk is marked with espresso, making it a popular choice in the U.S.

Preparing a Latte Macchiato (1:6 Espresso to Milk Ratio):

  • Brew one double shot of espresso.
  • Steam 6-8 ounces of milk, creating a larger “head” of milk foam.
  • Add the steamed milk to an empty glass, leaving 1-2 ounces of room.
  • Pour the freshly brewed espresso into the center of the milk.

5. Cappuccino

Cappuccino

A Cappuccino usually consists of 33% espresso, 33% microfoam, and 33% steamed milk. It requires practice to perfect the art of making a cappuccino.

Preparing a Cappuccino (1:1:1 Espresso to Milk to Foam Ratio):

  • Brew one double shot of espresso into a 5-6 ounce cup.
  • Steam 4-6 ounces of milk, creating a foamier texture.
  • Pour the steamed milk into the espresso until the cup is full. The foam will rise to the top, creating an even mixture of coffee, foam, and milk.

6. Latte

person making latte art

A Latte, also known as Caffe Latte, is a traditional Italian coffee drink consisting of 1/6 espresso, 4/6 steamed milk, and 1/6 foamed milk. It has more milk and less foam than a cappuccino.

Preparing a 10-ounce Latte (1:4 Espresso to Milk Ratio):

  • Brew one double shot of espresso into a 10-ounce cup.
  • Steam 7-8 ounces of milk, introducing less air for a milkier texture.
  • Pour the steamed milk into the espresso until the cup is full. Increase the amount of milk for larger lattes.

7. Cortado

Cortado

Also known as Gibraltar, a Cortado is a small, lightly textured espresso-based drink with a 1:2 espresso to milk ratio. It’s perfect for those who want something milkier than a macchiato but more robust than a flat white.

Preparing a Cortado (1:2 Espresso to Milk Ratio):

  • Brew one double shot of espresso into a 4-4.5 ounce cup.
  • Steam 5-6 ounces of milk, introducing a small amount of air for less foam.
  • Pour the steamed milk into the espresso until the cup is full.

8. Flat White

Flat White

A Flat White is a simple espresso drink containing steamed milk, with no clear standard on its preparation. It is almost similar to a cortado.

Preparing a Flat White (1:2 Espresso to Milk Ratio):

  • Brew one double shot of espresso into a 5-6 ounce cup.
  • Steam 5-6 ounces of milk, aiming for a good balance of steamed milk and dense foam.
  • Pour the steamed milk into the espresso until the cup is full.

The Bottom Line

As evident from the various espresso-based drinks, the amount of milk added plays a crucial role in creating the perfect beverage. Mastering the art of varying milk ratios will enable you to consistently create the ideal coffee experience.

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Editorial Staff

The editorial staff at Crazy Coffee Crave is a team of coffee enthusiasts & Baristas who enjoy the one thing we all think about as soon as we get up in the morning. Trusted by thousands of readers worldwide.