Does espresso have milk in it?

A cup of hot espresso in a dark cup on a black saucer with milk separately
This post may contain affiliate links. When you purchase through the affiliate links, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, check out our Affiliate Disclosure page.

A common question that gets asked is “Does espresso have milk in it?”

The answer is no. Espresso by itself is just a straight shot of concentrated coffee. While milk is not part of a standard espresso drink, it is a popular combination. Most popular coffee drinks consist of some mixture of espresso and milk or milk products. Below you can find a list of possible espresso drinks that you can order.

Espresso is a highly concentrated coffee from Italy. The taste can vary depending on the type of bean, the roasting process, and the brewing technique. It’s known for having a bold and bittersweet flavor with rich texture.

Espresso by itself is much more popular in Europe than America. Part of this is because popular coffee chains and fast food restaurants are notorious for over roasting their beans, creating a bitter, burnt taste rather than the rich flavor and slightly bittersweet taste associated with espresso.

How is an Espresso Made?

The brewing of espresso can make a difference in flavor and altering the process allows you to create slight variations that you can request at the coffee shop.

A traditional espresso is brewed by pressurizing water through finely ground coffee. Most coffee shops and dedicated coffee fans will have an espresso machine to do the process correctly.

The Different Types of Espresso

There are plenty of options beyond just your standard espresso. Most of the variation ties back into the brewing technique, with variations in the amount of water added.


This standard drink is often referred to as the Short Black Espresso. You can expect to get about 25-30 ml of strong coffee served in a small cup. It’s brewed with a 1:2 ratio, meaning 1 gram of coffee for every 2 grams of water, with a brew time of about 15-30 seconds. You can expect this to be the base of every espresso based coffee drink.

Double Espresso

This is the same as the Short Black Espresso, but a double shot. It is also known as the Standard Double. You can expect 50-60 ml of coffee or 1.8-2 OZ.


Lungo changes up the brewing technique by increasing the amount of water in the coffee to water ratio. While still a black espresso, the overall flavor will be weaker. This drink is also known as a Long Pull.


Ristretto also plays with the ratio of water to coffee, but instead uses about half the amount of water. This gives you a very strong and thick cup of coffee.


Americanos contain a shot of espresso mixed with 8oz of hot water. It’s also known as a Long Black.

Red Eye

For a double dose of caffeine, you can order a Red Eye. This drink is made up of a standard cup of drip coffee topped with an additional shot of espresso. A double shot of espresso is called a Black Eye and a triple shot of espresso is called a Dead Eye.

Espresso Drinks with Milk

Although an espresso can be a delicious pick me up all on its own, there are dozens of drink options to choose from. Most include some variation of milk, foam, and espresso ratios but you can also find options that add chocolate and flavored syrups for additional sweetness.


The cappuccino consists of a single or double shot of espresso with a 1:1:1 ratio of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. It comes out to a 3-6 OZ drink. Many countries also top it with cinnamon or cocoa powder for added sweetness.

Flat White

A flat white contains 1 shot of espresso with steamed milk and no microfoam on top.


A latte is an espresso drink that consists mostly of milk. The ratio will vary depending on the coffee shop and the country but it’s usually somewhere between a 1:3 and 1:5 ratio of espresso to milk. It is then topped with microfoam that many cafés will turn into latte art.


Mochas are similar to lattes, but with a chocolate twist. A mocha is usually layered chocolate syrup, espresso, milk, microfoam, and cocoa powder. The ratios vary depending on the  café and country.


Macchiatos traditionally are just a shot of espresso with a spoonful of milk foam, but some popular coffee chains like Starbucks have been known to mix it up with additional milk and added flavors.

Espresso con Panna

Espresso con Panna is a shot of espresso topped with a layer of whipped cream. In certain parts of Europe, it’s known as café Viennois.

Café Breve

Café Breve is a shot of espresso with light cream, otherwise known as half and half.


An affogato is a shot of espresso with a scoop of ice cream or gelato. This drink is more likely to be found at the ice cream parlor than the coffee shop but can be a tasty twist on your espresso.

Does Starbucks Make These Drinks?

Technically, yes, but Starbucks is known to mix it up a little. No matter where you are when you order your drink, be prepared for variation. Don’t be afraid to ask how the café makes their drinks.

Many fast food chains and coffee shops in America are known to increase the amount of water or milk in order to match the standard 8 to 20-ounce portion size drinks. Some places may also add sugar or syrups for additional sweetness as part of their recipe.


All these options can seem intimidating but really it’s an opportunity to get creative with your coffee drinking.Try some of these different varieties and see what you like. Whatever your preferred beverage, your local coffee shop can probably help you find what’s right for you.

Beyond ordering these drinks at your local coffee shop, many can be fun to make at home if you happen to have an espresso maker. Become your own personal barista, and give some of these coffee recipes a try.