Espresso Drinks in Restaurant’s Menu: All You Need to Know

Nick Mirev
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    Since the creation of the first espresso machine in the late 19th century in Italy, espresso drinks have increased their popularity. Nowadays, there are numerous types of coffee beverages people enjoy in their daily lives. This has led to numerous coffee trends in the food and beverage industry. From specialty coffee to cold brew subscription boxes, the niche is constantly growing and finding new ways to market this delicious drink. In this blog post, we’ll explain more about the most popular espresso drinks and what is their role in restaurant menus. If you're interested in the subject, make sure to check our post about the best coffee roasters in the US.

    Key takeaway: Restaurants commonly offer medium or dark coffee roasts. The most popular types of espresso drinks served in restaurants are Americano, cappuccino, latte, and espresso shot.
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    What Are the Most Popular Espresso Drinks?

    Тhe espresso brewing method is among the most popular ways of making coffee. That’s why there are dozens of different types of espresso drinks.

    Espresso Shot

    It’s one of the most concentrated forms of coffee. Usually, the drink is around 1 oz. It’s usually served in a small cup. This shot of espresso is strong in both flavor and texture.

    Caffè Americano

    This diluted version of espresso coffee is probably the most popular one in the US. It has a smoother flavor and similar strength although in far smaller concentration. 


    A shot of espresso, a layer of frothed milk, and a layer of steamed milk. That’s the recipe for this beloved drink. The ratio of the three ingredients is usually 1:1:1. Its creamy and smooth texture make it a favorite option for many coffee lovers. 


    Just like the cappuccino, it’s made from steamed milk, a shot of espresso, and frothed milk. The only difference is that the ratio of espresso to steamed milk is around 1:3. The result is a beverage with a creamy texture and a gentle coffee flavor. 


    Macchiato is another example of an espresso drink with milk. This beverage is made of a shot of espresso with some milk foam on top. Usually, the drink is around two ounces. It has a much stronger coffee flavor compared to other milk coffees.


    If you have a sweet tooth, mocha is probably one of the preferred espresso drinks for you. This coffee is essentially a latte with chocolate syrup. Its creamy texture as well as the combination of coffee and chocolate flavors make it an excellent option.

    Main Types of Coffee Roasts

    The coffee roasting process is one of the essential steps that turn the coffee beans into the aromatic drink we all love. There are four main types of coffee roasts - light, medium, medium-dark, and dark. The last two are often combined under one large dark roast category. Each of them has variations. For example, some of the popular coffee roasts are French roast and Italian roast which are different types of dark-roasted coffee.

    Light Coffee Roasts

    They are brown in color and allow the drinker to taste the original characteristics and flavors of the beans. Light coffee roasts are with high acidity and grassy flavors. This type is a preferred option for some specialty coffees. It gives the opportunity to taste different notes based on the region of origin, the climate, the soil, and other traits of the coffee. 

    Medium Coffee Roasts

    The coffee beans have a medium brown color. Some of the acidity of the drink gives way to the roast character. The majority of specialty coffees are medium coffee roasts. This guarantees that original characteristics are kept but also the drink has developed some bitterness and sweetness.

    Medium-Dark and Dark Coffee Roasts

    These types of coffees are roasted at temperatures above 430 degrees and up to 475 degrees. The medium-dark varieties have brand color and keep some of the acidity. Their roast character is fully developed. The original characteristics of the beans are almost eclipsed by the roast taste.

    Dark coffee roast beans are nearly black and shiny as oils begin rising to their surface from inside the beans. The acidity is practically eliminated and gives way to the burnt tones. Being bitter-sweet in flavor, these coffee roasts keep almost none of the origins of the beans. Therefore, they are not a recommended option for single-origin and specialty coffees.

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    Coffee Selection for a Restaurant’s Menu

    A restaurant menu is made by the restaurant manager or the owner. The main factor to consider is the concept of the venue. However, when it comes to beverages a professional barista or bartender might have a say in the menu management and the drink menu’s design.

    To select the right coffee items for your establishment, you might need to consider the demographics of your customers. Another factor is the type of venue. Is it a seasonal restaurant that will have a lot of seasonal drink orders like iced and cold brew coffee? Or maybe it’s a luxurious restaurant that serves specialty coffee brands? Allow us to share some general guidelines on the matter.

    Coffee Roasts in Restaurants

    The main types of coffee roasts served in venues are medium and dark ones. Dark roast coffee is suitable for clients who enjoy the strong and bold coffee flavor. Espresso drinks such as cappuccino, latte, or the classic Italian coffee shot are often made from dark coffee roasts. In addition to having a full-bodied taste, dark coffee roasts are a better choice for mixing with milk. Since a lot of people take their coffee with milk, dark roasted beans are a must for every venue.

    Medium coffee roasts are another popular choice for restaurants. They have less bittersweet flavor and more of the original characteristics are kept. If you plan to include specialty coffees in your menu, consider supplying medium-roasted coffee beans. Coffee brewing experts often choose different techniques to prepare medium roasts such as a French press or a cold brew coffee maker.

    Coffee Drinks in Restaurants

    Your venue should answer the market’s needs and offer the most popular hot and cold coffee drinks. The most beloved types are:

    • Drip coffee;
    • Pour-over coffee;
    • Espresso shot;
    • Cappuccino;
    • Hot and iced latte;
    • Hot and iced mocha;
    • Hot and iced Americano;
    • Frappuccino;
    • Coffee milkshake;

    Alternatives to Espresso Drinks

    A lot of people choose to start their day with a cup of tea instead of coffee. It’s no wonder since tea is the second most popular beverage in the world. The role of tea and coffee in restaurants is constantly changing. Restaurants often include many tea varieties in their breakfast or afternoon menus. A cup of strong black tea has roughly the same amount of caffeine as an espresso. Furthermore, there are many options for excellent tea and food pairings. Whether it’s breakfast, a dessert, or even dinner, tea can complement the meal very well.

    Another alternative to espresso drinks is matcha. This beverage is made of powdered green tea leaves. Even though in Japan and other Asian countries matcha tea is consumed hot, in the West, it’s more popular in its cold form. One of the main reasons for matcha’s popularity is the fact that it has a slower caffeine release.

    Kombucha is becoming increasingly popular in the US. This beverage is made of fermented sugared black tea. Kombucha is sour with a hint of sweetness. It’s also fizzy and can have additional flavors. Its taste depends strongly on the type of tea used during the fermentation process. It usually has floral or herbal notes.

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    Frequently Asked Questions about Espresso Drinks

    If you are planning on opening a coffee shop or wish to change the beverage menu of your restaurant, you probably have a lot of questions. Let’s examine some of the popular ones.

    What Espresso Drinks Toppings Should a Restaurant Offer?

    Cinnamon, chocolate syrup, ginger powder, sprinkles, and cocoa are the most beloved toppings for a cappuccino and other espresso drinks. Iced coffees pair well with whipped cream on top.

    What Food Pairs Well with Espresso?

    As coffee is generally considered a morning drink, it pairs well with most types of breakfast food. However, many enjoy a cup of their favorite coffee drink in the afternoon with a dessert or other light snacks.

    How Do Restaurants Increase Espresso Sales?

    The easiest way to increase profits with the help of coffee is to use it as an upsell point. Guests that just had their lunch might opt for a cup of delicious cappuccino. Another option will be to offer an exquisite coffee experience by adding specialty coffees to the menu. This will attract the interest of coffee enthusiasts.

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