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Espressino Coffee Recipe: the Authentic Italian Way

Here at Home Grounds, we love a little decadence now and again. But the velvety mouthfeel and bold flavors of an espresso shot lure us back every time. And the epitome of this back-to-basic simplicity is found in the espressino.

Whether enjoyed alone or with a bocconotto, a tartlet filled with cream and dark cherries, the espressino is the perfect way to savor authentic Apulia in a cup.

Let’s look at what it is, where it came from, and how to make it.

Espressino Coffee

History of the Espressino

The espressino arose from our collective obsession with chocolate and coffee. Like its coffee cousins, the Marocchino and the bicerin. You make it with a dusting of cocoa powder, a shot of espresso, steamed milk, and another dusting of cocoa powder to finish the drink off.

If you’re looking for a slight variation in this drink, some cafes have substituted Nutella for the cocoa powder to create a richer, nuttier drink. While this seems more decadent, this substitution was born out of frugality, according to food writer David Lebovitz (1).

Back in those days, cacao beans were very expensive and rare, so a local chocolatier named Michel Prochet began blending hazelnuts into the chocolate to extend it.

What Is an Espressino?

Espressino is a drink made with cocoa powder, one or two espresso shots, steamed milk, and topped off with more cocoa powder.

Marocchino and espressino use the same ingredients, but in espressino, cocoa powder goes into the glass before the espresso.

If you’re up for trying more unusual espresso drinks, we have a list of coffee drinks from around the world to broaden your horizons.

Espressino Coffee Recipe

Here’s our espressino coffee recipe so you can try this delicious drink at home.

What You’ll Need

  • 18 grams of fresh coffee beans
  • 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder, divided
  • 4 ounces of whole milk
  • A coffee grinder
  • An espresso machine
  • Two 2-ounce shot glasses
  • Two 4 to 6-ounce glass cups for serving

At A Glance

Brew Time:

5-7 minutes

Yield:

Two 4-ounce cups

How to Make an Espressino

The most important things you’ll need for this recipe are an espresso machine and a milk frother, if the espresso machine lacks a steam wand. If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can substitute the espresso with strong coffee or espresso-style coffee from an Aeropress.

For frothing milk without a milk frother, use your stove top to heat your milk to about 155-165 degrees F and whip air into the heated milk with a French press like this:

1. Place Your Cocoa Powder into Your Serving Glasses.

Sprinkle a bit of the cocoa powder into the bottom of each serving glass.

2. Pull Your Espresso Shots.

Grind your beans just before you’re ready to brew for the best-tasting coffee. Then, pull your espresso shots into the shot glasses. Pour the espresso into your serving glasses after reaching the right volume.

3. Froth Your Milk.

Heating your milk to between 155 and 165 degrees F, froth your milk till it is a light, airy foam. Be sure to gently tap your frothing pitcher to get rid of the larger bubbles. It’s all about that microfoam, after all (2).

4. Assemble Your Espressino.

Once your milk is frothed, gently pour about half of it into each serving glass over the espresso. Top it off with the rest of the cocoa powder.

Espressino Variations

For a richer, more decadent drink, you can add Nutella instead of cocoa powder.

FAQs

There are 41 calories in a single-shot espressino, mainly from the high-fat content of the whole milk. If you replace the cocoa powder with Nutella, the calorie count increases to 100, and the drink has significantly more sugar.

Yes, you can garnish your espressino! Make this drink your own by adding chopped hazelnuts, whipped cream, or a drizzle of chocolate.

Yes, you can use decaf coffee in an espressino. If you want the decadence of the espressino without the caffeine, high-quality decaf beans are an easy substitution.

  1. Lebovitz, David. (2006, February 12). Bicerin Recipe. David Lebovitz. https://www.davidlebovitz.com/il-bicerin-1/
  2. Meister, Erin. (2013). All About Milk Foam and Coffee. Serious Eats. https://www.seriouseats.com/milk-foam-what-is-microfoam-why-does-milk-foam-what-is-a-cappuccino-coffee
Julia Bobak
I love trail running, rock climbing, coffee, food, and my tiny dog — and writing about all of them. I start every morning with a fresh Americano from my home espresso machine, or I don’t start it at all.

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