There are a number of different types of espresso drinks that you can get and it can be a challenge to figure out the differences between them.

This post will show you the difference between short black and espresso.

So, what is the difference between espresso and short black? Short black is just another way of saying espresso. They are exactly the same thing. They are the result of pushing hot pressurized water through finely ground coffee.

There are actually a number of different ways to refer to espresso but sometimes they will carry different meanings. The reason that espresso is sometimes referred to as “short black” is that it is made with water, not milk and it has a dark appearance.

Short black and espresso

Below, I will talk about how espresso (short black) is made, what impacts its taste and the other types of espresso drinks that you can get.

Espresso is the liquid that results from pushing hot and pressurized water through finely ground coffee. It is dense, strong, and slightly bitter depending on how it is made.

Espresso will also normally have something called a “Crema” on top. This is a foamy substance that is very bitter. Many people prefer to remove it from the espresso with a spoon.

Since pressure is needed to make espresso it is necessary to use a specially designed machine to make it.

There are three main types of machines that are used to make espresso and they are traditional espresso machines, pod machines and stovetop espresso makers.

Traditional espresso machines

To make espresso with a traditional espresso machine you need to get the beans, grind them, put them into a container (portafilter), push the grind down and then put the container into the machine and turn it on.

Using a traditional espresso machine to make espresso will allow you to have more control over the taste of the espresso and with some trial and error you should be able to learn how to make it the exact way that you want it.

However, they require the most amount of maintenance, they have a steep learning curve and it can be difficult to replicate a good espresso unless you track the exact steps that you followed.

With that being said, many people will agree that you can only really make true espresso using an espresso machine.

The espresso machine that I would recommend the most would be this one on Amazon mainly because it also allows you to make coffee so you should be able to get full use out of it.

Pod espresso machines

Pod espresso machines are a popular alternative to using a traditional espresso machine to make espresso.

To use a pod espresso machine you just need to put water and a pod into the machine and then to press a button.

The reason that they are popular is that they are easy to use, require little maintenance and they will consistently give you good tasting espresso.

The only main drawback is that you do not have as much control over the way that the espresso tastes. However, there are lots of different pod flavors that you can try so it is likely that there will be a flavor that you like.

The pod style machine that I would recommend the most would be this one on Amazon because it allows you to make different types of espresso and coffee as well.

Stovetop espresso makers

Stovetop espresso makers work by creating steam pressure to create the espresso.

To use one you just need to put water into the stovetop, then to put in the coffee grounds above it and then to heat the stovetop up.

You can watch the video below to see how it is done.

The advantages to using a stovetop espresso maker are that it is the cheapest option and it is a good option to start with to see whether or not you would get full use out of an actual espresso machine.

However, the espresso that they make is not of the same quality as you will get from an actual espresso machine.

The stovetop espresso maker that I would recommend would be this one on Amazon.

What impacts its taste

There are a lot of different factors that will have an impact on the taste of the espresso.

If the beans are from a single source then it will normally result in the espresso having a more authentic taste but it can also result in the espresso tasting sour. Whereas, if the beans are sourced from multiple locations then it will normally allow for a more balanced taste.

If the beans are roasted lightly then it will usually cause the espresso to taste sourer and a dark roast will make it taste slightly more bitter.

The type of beans used will also have an impact on the taste of the espresso. The two main types of beans are Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans are more expensive and will taste more sour while Robusta beans are cheaper with a more bitter taste.

How finely the coffee beans are ground will also be a large factor. If the coffee beans are ground too finely then it will mean that it will take too long for the water to pass through it in the portafilter and it will cause the espresso to be more bitter. The opposite is true for when the grind is not fine enough.

Other types of espresso drinks

Espresso can come in a number of different varieties and can be used as a base to a number of other drinks such as:

  • Cappuccino which is espresso with steamed milk and milk foam added to it.
  • Latte which is espresso with a lot of steamed milk and a small amount of milk foam added to it.
  • Macchiato which is espresso with a small amount of milk foam added to it.
  • Long black which is hot water with espresso added to it.
  • Lungo which is espresso that is made with more water than usual.
  • Ristretto which is espresso made with less water than usual.
  • Mocha which is espresso topped with steamed milk and chocolate syrup.
  • Americano which is where hot water is added to espresso.
  • Cortado which is a double shot of espresso with foamed milk on top (more than with macchiato)
  • Breve which is espresso with half and half whipped cream and milk.
  • Flat white which is an espresso with a small amount of steamed milk added to it.
  • Affogato which is ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over it.

Related questions

How is short black different to long black? A short black is just another term used to describe an espresso. A long black is where espresso is added to hot water.

Does short black have milk? No, it is made with water. Milk can be added after it is made making it a different drink such as a cappuccino or a latte.

Does short black have water? Yes, short black (espresso) is made using water.

Does short black have caffeine? Short black is made by forcing pressurized water through coffee which contains caffeine. So, yes, short black does have caffeine.


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