A beginner’s guide to espresso drinks

Being a barista is arguably becoming a more and more trendy job. And many people in this line of work become passionate coffee experts who treat espresso as a hobby, as well as a way of earning money.

When you're working in a coffee shop you'll get to be somewhere where you can indulge your love of coffee all day long by serving customers drinks and chatting about what beverages they might enjoy.

You'll get to meet new people by serving them, often from lots of different walks of life, and hone your skills at creating delectable drinks.

All coffee shops and chains boast slightly different menus, but you're likely to be creating many of the beverages you serve starting with a shot or two of espresso.

Creating this shot, and the drinks that are made from it, will be a key part of your training as a barista.

Here are some of the drinks you'll know if you're already a fan of visiting coffee shops as a customer, and will find yourself making and serving if you move into this exciting line of work.


The key ingredient of most of the coffee drinks you'll be serving, a dark and small-sized shot of coffee excitement, created when water is pushed through tightly packed, ground coffee to form a strong-tasting drink that can be enjoyed on its own (in dainty cups befitting of its small serving size) or with sugar. Another option is the macchiato, which is traditionally an espresso or two with just a touch of foamed milk on top, a little like a small cappuccino.


One for those who love a bit of foam, here the espresso is served in a beverage which features both steamed milk (milk which has had steam pushed through it to create air bubbles, heat and a smooth texture) and foamed milk (the bigger-bubbled cousin of steamed milk). The proportion of these two are different than in a latte, with more foamed and less steamed milk involved in this drink. It's common, as with some of the other drinks listed here, to sprinkle some cocoa powder atop this masterpiece once it's done.


Where's the milk? Well, it may be nowhere to be seen in this dark treat, also known as a long black. Here, the espresso is diluted not with milk but with hot water, meaning it's a great drink to suggest for customers who like black coffee but feel a neat espresso might be a little much for them. Milk can be added to taste afterwards, just as you would to a filter coffee, with some customers preferring to add warm milk to preserve the heat of their brew.


In a latte, it's all about plenty of steamed milk, and not so much about the foam, although you'll find a little on top. Great for people who want a creamy drink where the bitter edges of the espresso are calmed down a little.


This is a great drink for fans of all things sweet, and is somewhere between hot chocolate and coffee – indeed, it involves hot chocolate in the mix, as well as espresso, creating a cocoa-flavoured drink with an exciting coffee edge. 

Berkeley Scott is a specialist hospitality recruitment agency.