A cup of coffee first thing in the morning is an essential part of many people’s routine. With it being one of the world’s most popular beverages, most of your customers will know exactly what coffee drink they want as soon as they walk through your doors. Being able to not only offer but also perfect the most popular coffee drinks can make or break the success of your menu. So that you can delight even the pickiest of coffee drinkers, we’ve put together a guide on how you can become experts in crafting these must-have coffee drinks.


The Latte – or Caffè Latte as it was originally coined in Italy – is one of the oldest and most enduringly popular coffee drinks out there. At its core, a latte consists of 1-2 shots of espresso with steamed milk. To master the latte, you should first and foremost ensure you are using high-quality espresso coffee beans. Espresso is a very versatile beverage and brewing with Arabica beans from the world’s most respected coffee-growing regions is essential to the flavor. Here’s how to use your ingredients and equipment for the perfect latte:

  • Prepare an 8-16 oz latte cup with a single or double shot of espresso so that it is about ⅓ full.
  • Using the steam wand on your espresso machine, steam the milk until it has a creamy consistency and reaches a temperature of about 140°-150°F (PRO TIP: Using whole milk will yield the creamiest texture. If you want to offer dairy-free options, oat milk works best here.)
  • Pour the steamed milk into your espresso from a reasonably high angle and start lowering as the milk gets closer to the rim. 

Its preparation might seem simple at first glance, but as the #1 most popular espresso-based coffee drink in the U.S., preparing it just right is vital. To set your latte apart, you can offer added flavoring with syrups, sauces, and powders, or learn how to create unique latte art.


Another highly requested espresso drink you should be offering is the cappuccino. It might be easy to confuse a latte and cappuccino at first sight, but the difference lies in the volume of espresso to steamed milk to frothed milk. Where a latte is mostly steamed milk, a cappuccino relies on the texture and precision of the three main ingredients: 

  • Prepare a 5-6 oz cup with a single shot of espresso so that it is about ⅓ full.
  • You will need to prepare the milk in two different ways. Using the steam wand on your espresso machine, first steam milk until it has a creamy consistency and reaches a temperature of about 140°-150°F.
  • In a separate cup, steam milk until it has reached a creamy consistency. From this point, you will want to froth it using an aerator on your espresso machine until it reaches a fluffy consistency.
  • Pour the steamed milk into your espresso until it has filled up ⅔ of the cup. 
  • Then, pour the foamed milk on top of this for the final ⅓ of beverage to make an even cap.

Mastering the cappuccino will depend on the ratio of each of the 3 ingredients. To personalize it, find ways to incorporate unique flavorings from Torani and Caffe D’Vita.

Caffè Mocha

When your customers are seeking bolder flavors, a classic caffè mocha can do the trick. The Caffè Mocha, also called mochaccino, first rose to popularity in the 18th century when coffee shops started adding chocolate to their beverages. The combination of these two flavors was obviously a hit and it has now become a staple in coffee culture. You’ll need the fundamental ingredients of espresso, milk, cocoa syrup or hot chocolate powder, and whipped cream or topping of your choice: 

  • Prepare an 8-16 oz glass with a single or double shot of espresso so that it is either ⅓ or ½ full. 
  • Steam the milk until it has a creamy consistency and reaches a temperature of about 140°-150°F.
  • If you are planning to use hot chocolate or cocoa powder, you will first need to dissolve it into water until it has a smooth consistency. 
  • Combine the espresso with milk and the chocolate syrup or powder and mix by stirring. Top with whipped cream. 

Since the caffè mocha is all about chocolate, you can also top it with chocolate flakes, chocolate syrup, or go a step beyond and pair it with other beloved chocolate treats. This drink can be enjoyed both hot and cold. Read on to see how you can turn this into a blended option.


The frappé is a popular cold blended coffee drink, similar to a smoothie. The main difference is that it is traditionally blended longer and features coffee as a key ingredient. While it is not required that you include coffee in your frappé recipes, its name is often synonymous with that of a refreshing caffeinated beverage. Unlike the previous recipes, this one will require a blender, ice, and sugar (or a sugar alternative) in addition to your espresso:

  • Prepare an 8-16 oz glass with a single or double shot of espresso and allow it to completely cool. 
  • Once it is below room temperature, add the espresso to a blender along with about 2 oz of cold milk, 1-3 tsp of sugar, and 2-3 handfuls of ice cubes. 
  • Blend on a medium to high level until the ice has broken down completely and the beverage has a smooth, creamy texture.

The frappé is incredibly versatile and can be offered as a dessert-style drink. Especially popular in the hotter seasons, you should find ways to incorporate flavors like chocolate and caramel. Experiment with fruity and floral flavors as well to diversify your menu.

Flat White

The Flat White is a relatively modern beverage likened to the latte. Advanced coffee customers will know the difference between a latte and a flat white, and will expect you to as well. Named jokingly after a newspaper that claimed a caffè latte just meant “flat white,” the main distinction between the two is the percentage of coffee to foam. It is also made in smaller servings. The main ingredients remain espresso and steamed milk, but they will need to be treated differently: 

  • Prepare a 5-6 oz cup with a single or double shot of espresso. 
  • Steam the milk until it has a creamy consistency and reaches a temperature of about 140°-150°F.
  • Pour the steamed milk over the espresso so that the percentage of coffee is greater than that of the milk. 

This recipe truly relies on the quality of its ingredients since there is less to work with. If you want to give your flat white a unique twist that caters to health-conscious crowds, you can try out milk alternatives. Plant-based milk can also froth well so they are a viable option for baristas looking to experiment.


The Affogato, or Affogato al Caffe (functionally “drowned in coffee”), is a menu staple that you will want to have on hand for those with a sweet tooth. Its name comes from its unique presentation, which involves topping or “drowning” ice cream or gelato in a shot of espresso and amaretto. It can pass as both a drink and a dessert to be enjoyed throughout the day. The instructions are incredibly simple, so its success lies in the ingredients you use: 

  • Prepare a small drinking glass with 1-2 scoops of your choice of gelato or ice cream. (PRO TIP: While affogato is commonly served with vanilla gelato or ice cream, chocolate and coffee flavors are also great contenders to elevate this drink.)
  • Brew a single or double shot of espresso. Add a splash of amaretto and mix.
  • Pour the espresso and amaretto mixture over the ice cream or gelato.

The real difficulty with affogato comes with the temperatures. Pouring the espresso as soon as it comes out will rapidly melt the ice cream. However, pour it too late and the flavor play between the coffee and cream will not be as strong. A proper affogato needs that contrast between temperatures, so we suggest allowing your espresso to cool a bit, but not enough to lose its warmth.

Key Takeaways

The possibilities are endless when it comes to experimenting with new coffee drinks. But your business must know how to prepare these classics as a foundation for your customers. Keep in mind that everything takes practice, and the road to the perfect cup takes time. With the right ingredients and equipment solutions, you can prepare these 6 picks like the pros. 

Gaviña Coffee Solutions offers both in-person and virtual training sessions to help you build a better coffee experience for new and existing customers. Get in touch with us today for more information.