How To Drink Espresso (Like A True Italian)?

Most of us drink espresso daily. But, have you ever wondered is there the right way to drink it?

Once you visit Venice, Florance, or Rome and you sit in a coffee shop and enjoy the authentic espresso experience you feel like there is this top-secret Italians have deep-seated in their coffee culture. We will call it a part of their “la dolce vita”.

So, how to drink espresso like a true Italian? Let’s start.

What Drink Is Espresso?

Espresso is a very simple type of coffee brew (made using an espresso machine) that captures all the complex flavors from the coffee beans you use. For this reason, you can enjoy it as it is or combine it with water, milk, cream, and even ice cream and alcohol to make specialized drinks such as:

So, how is espresso supposed to be drinken?

Choose The Right Cup

Espresso is served as a shot. This means that you will not use the large 8-ounce cup you would for a cappuccino or a latte. You need a small 1-ounce cup that is specially designed for espresso. These cups are mostly made out of ceramic material. If you find yourself in a fancy coffee shop you might even get an espresso shot served in a demitasse.

Interestingly, the Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano has a specification for the exact type of cup in which a Certified Italian Espresso is to be served – this is a white china cup that features an elliptical shape and can hold about 50 to 100 milliliters. There should be no decorative patterns on it.

Espresso Cup

Always Warm Up The Espresso Cup

A heated cup makes for a much better espresso shot, it is as simple as that. Your brew remains at its optimal temperature for a much longer time and it does not get cold easily. Of course, this step is optional, however, it does make a difference in the final steps.

Brew/Order An Espresso

In case you are making espresso yourself, this is the time to take out your espresso machine. If you are in a cafe order one Italian espresso. If you are in Italy, say you want an espresso pronto (and be careful about the pronunciation).

Drink The Sparkling Water

A glass of sparkling water almost always accompanies a shot of espresso on the way to your table. This is to ensure that you can cleanse your palette before every espresso sip you have. Only that way you will be able to enjoy the complete, dark, and rich flavor pallet from the coffee.

Drinking Sparkling Water With Espresso

If you do not enjoy the sparkling water, you can replace it with a glass of regular tap water.

Stir The Crema Into The Espresso

Now, this step can be quite confusing. You are supposed to spend so much time trying to extract the perfect espresso shot with a thick, rich crema and now you are supposed to stir it up?

Truth be told, while the crema looks exquisite, it does not taste that great. So, take a spoon, skim the cream, and stir the espresso shot. While you might think that there is nothing to stir in an espresso shot, you, my friend are very wrong. The thicker parts of the brew sink to the bottom of the cop while the lighter notes remain on top. To get the most flavor out of your shot, you need to stir the two together.

Appreciate & Enjoy Your Brew

Now, a good espresso has a bitter flavor, but not too bitter. It is rich, but not overpowering. It has a very dark and deep flavor with somewhat lighter and brighter tones. Most importantly, it has a substantial texture you will be able to detect on your tongue.

Enyoing Espresso

While all this may sound a bit confusing, espresso is a delicious brew you either love or hate. So, make sure that you take your time and give it a fair shot. Sit, enjoy the aroma of the dark roast beans that comes from the brew, and drink it while it is still hot.

Additional Tips You Might Find Handy

Now that you know the basics about how to properly drink espresso, here are some additional tips you might find helpful:

    • be an espresso snob – Italians are very serious about their espresso and how it is brewed, and you should be too. Here is a scenario for you: a barista says: we have a small batch of locally roasted coffee, do you want to try it? This sounds nice, right? But, you do not know how consistent the roast is, how long the coffee has been sitting there, etc. So, it is always best to go with a well-known dark roast coffee (unless you are willing to take the chance on the flavor).
    • have espresso made especially for you – espresso is not dark coffee that can lay around in a carafe for a while and still have a delicious flavor. It should be brewed right before you want to drink it (think about the crema).
    • order espresso at a bar – this is another “Italian thing”. Rarely will you find an Italian order espresso from a table. There is a good reason behind it, by the time the barista takes the espresso shot to your table (especially during the rush hour) there might be no crema left atop it.
    • drink it, do not sip on it – espresso is not a type of brew that is meant to be sipped on. Once you get it, take a moment to appreciate all its flavors, and then drink it as a shot.
    • never, again, never drink espresso without a crema – if your brew is freshly made, it should always have crema on top – if waiter serves it with no crema, it’s a sign espresso is not fresh.
    • you can order an espresso at any point during the day, however, if you order a cappuccino after 11 p.m. you will get some strange looks in Italy (they drink cappuccino only after breakfast).

Drinking Espresso With Company

  • see espresso as a way of life – Italians are truly passionate about their espresso. It is not just a cup of coffee for them but a delicious drink that brings them together.

What About Other Espresso-Based Beverages?

Now that you know everything about the espresso itself, here are some tips on how to make and enjoy the espresso-based beverages we talked about earlier:

How To Drink A Double Espresso?

You can drink double espresso the same way you would a regular espresso. Instead of taking it as a shot, you can drink it in 2 to 3 sips.

How To Drink Espresso With Milk?

There are numerous espresso and milk combinations you can try. No matter which one you opt for, remember that everything tastes better once you stir the brew up.

How To Drink Espresso Con Panna?

Espresso con Panna is made by combining espresso with sweetened cream. The best way to drink it is by stirring the whipped cream through the espresso brew. The other option you have is to let whipped cream sit atop your brew and drink espresso as it is.

Espresso Con Panna

How Do You Make & Drink A Cortado?

To make a cortado, you need to combine a shot of espresso (or a double depending on the size you want to achieve) with an equal amount of steamed milk and serve it in a Gibraltar glass. Now, to enjoy it properly, use a spoon to combine the two layers.

How Do You Make & Drink A Shaken Espresso?

To make a shaken espresso, you need to combine ice, a single or a double shot of espresso, a bit of sugar, or some simple syrup, and shake up everything using a cocktail shaker. Now, how to drink it? Serve it in a tall glass, place some straws into it, and sip it while it is cold.

How To Drink Espresso With Sugar?

Espresso should be consumed as it is. If you are looking for a way to sweeten it, you can place a sugar cube under your tongue, let it dissolve, and then take a shot of espresso. The other option you have is also to add sugar into the brew straight away.

How To Drink Moka Pot Coffee?

Moka pot coffee is the closest you can get to real espresso without an espresso machine. You should drink it as it is, dark, black, and straight from a cup.

Moka Pot Coffee

How To Drink Espresso With Sambuca?

Espresso with sambuca is, although less known, another amazing espresso combination. To make it properly, combine 2 shots of freshly brewed espresso (about 2 to 2 and 1/2 oz) with 1 ou of sambuca. Stir everything together and enjoy.

How To Drink Espresso Martini?

Espresso martini tastes the best when it is properly chilled and served in a tall, martini glass. To make the drink combine 2 ounces of vodka, 1/2 ounce of coffee liqueur (usually Kahlúa), 1 ounce of freshly brewed espresso (or a cold brew concentrate – use what you prefer better), and 1/2 ounce of simple syrup. To garnish it, you can use a few roasted coffee beans and place them atop the drink.

Espresso Martini is the best to have during the hot summer evenings when you need something to relax but also do not want to give up on your coffee.

How To Drink Espresso With Lemon Peel?

Sounds crazy, right? Combining espresso with lemon peel. Well, think again. Lemon peels are so full of natural oils that provide a touch of delicate aroma to your espresso. The idea is that you twist the peel and then run it on the lip of your cup. This will leave just enough flavor to give a beautiful kick to your shot.

What Goes Well With Espresso?

Almost everything goes well with espresso. You can serve it with delicious biscotti, a rich chocolate cake, almond cakes, cherry, etc.

Finally, Can You Drink Espresso Every Day?

Yes, you can. Just make sure that you do not overindulge in it. Drinking it in moderation provides you with so many health benefits and it makes a busy day much easier to withstand.

To Wrap It Up

So, what do you think? Do you already know how to drink espresso like a true Italian or have you found some useful guidelines that will keep you from sticking out in the crowd? Only by enjoying an espresso in its simplest form, you can truly understand and appreciate all the magic and complexity behind it.

Espresso culture can be a truly complicated thing, especially in Italy. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Any true espresso aficionado will happily bring you into the club and show you all the amazing hacks about espresso brew. Once you find your coffee tribe, you will feel like you belong.

As a former cook and a pastry chef, Patricia knows how to recognize fresh ingredients and appreciates their quality above all else. Her ideal day is spent at a local farmer’s market looking for the fruits, vegetables, and herbs she can combine and use to make meals for her loved ones. She is also a big coffee enthusiast and enjoys trying out different coffee brews while traveling.