Types of Coffee Drinks: Milk to Coffee Ratios

Types of Coffee Drinks: Milk to Coffee Ratios

Do you have a favorite espresso and milk drink? Do you enjoy the milk-forward latte, creamy cappuccino, or the tiny espresso macchiato? Whether you’re an at-home espresso enthusiast or a regular coffee shop goer, you should know the difference between basic espresso drinks. When it comes to coffee, there are countless variations and flavors to suit every taste preference. One important aspect that can influence the flavor and texture of a coffee beverage is the ratio of milk to coffee. In this blog post, we will delve into the different types of coffee drinks and how the milk-to-coffee ratio plays a role in each. At Command Coffee, we know good coffee. Explore our menu for more of these tasty drinks!

espresso cup


The foundation of many types of coffee drinks is espresso, a concentrated shot of coffee. This is usually coffee that is extracted under high pressure. Traditionally served as a small shot, it has a robust flavor. However, if you prefer a milder taste, add a small amount of steamed milk to create a classic macchiato. This has a higher coffee-to-milk ratio. 


The Cortado/Gibraltar is a 4-5 ounce drink of Spanish origin. It is typically served in a Gibraltar glass, but some parts of the country call it a cortado. Like an espresso, this drink is designed to be consumed quickly. The espresso is potent, but it is mixed with 2-3 ounces of steamed milk to cut the intensity just enough for enjoyment. The milk is steamed to the cooler side to allow you to down it almost immediately after receiving it. 

It is nice and warm but not too hot. Cortados/Gibraltars are more intense than cappuccinos. They have more subtle flavors of the espresso that are not noticeable through the milk. Many newcomers don’t enjoy how strong the espresso flavor is in this beverage, but this drink is beloved in the industry. It’s strong but not nearly intense as an espresso on its own. 


A popular choice among coffee enthusiasts, a cappuccino consists of equal parts of espresso, steamed milk, and foam. The balance between the coffee and the milk creates a harmonious blend of flavors. The milk is frothed to create a velvet texture. This provides a creamy mouthfeel that complements the rich espresso. 

cinnamon lattes


For those who enjoy a creamier and milder coffee experience, choose a latte. It is made by combining a shot of espresso with a large amount of steamed milk. The milk-to-coffee ratio in a latte is usually around 3:1 or 4:1. This results in a smooth and silky texture with a subtle coffee flavor. 

Flat White 

Originating from Australia and New Zealand, the flat white has gained popularity worldwide. It is similar to a latte but has a higher coffee-to-milk ratio. The milk is steamed to create a velvety microfoam. This is then poured over a double shot of espresso. This results in a stronger coffee flavor, balanced by a creamy and velvety mouthfeel. In the coffee industry, most baristas explain flat white as small lattes. The flavor is a little more intense, but the foam is very thin, like a latte, if there is any foam at all. 


A macchiato is an espresso-based drink with a small amount of milk added. The milk is used to “stain” the espresso. This is the name macchiato, which means “stained” in Italian. The milk-to-coffee ratio is minimal, allowing the bold flavor of the espresso to shine through while the milk adds a touch of sweetness and creaminess. Macchiatos are great for experiencing the rich and diverse flavors of espresso while not getting the full punch. A small bit of milk and foam smooths out the roughest edges while keeping the shot’s flavor profile intact. 


Compared to other types of coffee drinks, a “breve” is a unique one. It is a latte made with half and half instead of milk. Though that’s the default drink, a “breve” can be modified with any espresso and milk drink. For example, a breve cappuccino is made with steamed cream instead of milk. A breve macchiato uses steamed half and half instead of milk. 


A delightful combination! A mocha combines both coffee and chocolate. It is a true treat for those who have a big sweet tooth. It typically consists of equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and chocolate syrup. The milk-to-coffee ratio can be adjusted to personal preference, allowing for balance.  

cafe mocha

What are Dry and Wet Drinks?

Understanding what “wet” and “dry” drinks are allows you to easily modify your favorite espresso and milk drinks. These terms give you control over how much foam you’d like in your drink. Tell the barista you want extra foam and less liquid for a dry drink. Since the foam is less liquid than milk, this makes the drink “drier.” Asking for a wet drink means you want less foam and more steamed milk. Here are a few things to keep in mind when ordering at your Command Coffee location today: 

  • A wet cappuccino will have less foam than normal. This gives you something closer to a flat white.
  • A dry latte will have extra foam, bringing it closer to an upsized cappuccino. 

There are so many types of coffee drinks. We hope this blog was helpful and we encourage you to try a variety of these drinks! There are a lot more espresso-based drinks that you are sure to find all over the world, but these are some of our favorites. If you’re making espresso at home, use freshly roasted beans. Whole beans tend to start going stale in 2-3 weeks (and grounds in just 30 minutes). It’s important to buy beans that were just roasted if you want to experience the best flavors your coffee can offer. Check out Command Coffee for the highest-quality beans and coffee in the Indianapolis area! You’re sure to leave with a smile. 

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