I know how some people enjoy a caffeinated drink that’s not smothered in cream and milk. If you want to enjoy the rich flavor of the coffee in your drink then you will love the piccolo. You must be wondering “what is a piccolo coffee?”
The piccolo coffee is made with a single ristretto shot topped with milk. It is served in a 90ml glass. It may have been invented so people can keep having coffee throughout the day without overdoing it on dairy and caffeine.
What is a Piccolo coffee?
The taste of coffee in every cup of piccolo coffee is noticeable.
Piccolo means small in Italian. Some baristas would even call the piccolo drink a piccolo latte or piccolo espresso, which is basically a small milk beverage.
Now, the name of this drink may be Italian, but piccolo coffee is actually created in Australia.
The piccolo allegedly rose to prominence in Australia ten years ago and is said to have originated in Sydney. Piccolo coffee is said to have been invented by baristas to keep enjoying their coffee throughout the day.
The size and amount of ingredients keep you from going over your dairy and caffeine intake.
The piccolo is a single ristretto shot topped with milk and served in a 90ml glass. Simply put, more coffee (☕+++), less milk (-🥛).
The single ristretto shot is topped with steamed, stretched milk, allowing it to blend with the coffee. Finally, the piccolo coffee is topped with a small amount of foam. This allows the espresso flavor to shine through without being overpowering.
Aside from piccolo, Australia is also known for its magic coffee. Like piccolo, magic coffee is also made with ristretto and is a bit similar to a latte.
If you don't feel like having a large latte and a quick caffeine fix that isn't too strong, you can also try "Magic coffee."
This is another Australian beverage that originated in Melbourne cafes. It is also harder to find magic on the menus. Wait, in fact, you won't find it on the menus of Melbourne cafes.
The magic is served in a 5oz or 160ml cup with a double ristretto and steamed milk with little to no foam.
What does Piccolo coffee taste like?
The single-shot piccolo is mild, sweet, and delicate.
Piccolo latte is just another name for piccolo coffee. It is made in exactly the same way.
You might find its appearance to be like a small latte. But because a latte has one part coffee to two parts milk, You’ll notice that a piccolo has a stronger flavor.
If you want to go stronger with your latte, you’d have to start with the espresso shot and add a dollop of milk froth as you would for a piccolo.
Piccolo coffee is simply an abbreviation for piccolo latte coffee. A piccolo latte is a freshly roasted coffee made up of a single shot of ristretto. It is served in a demitasse glass and topped with latte-like steamed milk.
So piccolo coffee is like a cross of other coffee drinks. It can be confused with a macchiato, flat white, or a cortado. Heck, some coffee shops are even confused!
Let’s compare it with other similar drinks, shall we?
Piccolo vs Macchiato
The primary distinction between a macchiato and a piccolo is that a piccolo contains more milk than a macchiato.
Your usual macchiato is made by adding a splash of milk to a shot of espresso.
A piccolo contains ristretto and steamed milk, whereas a macchiato contains espresso and a milk foam topping.
Caramel macchiato is one of the most in-demand options in coffee shops and cafes.
A 60ml macchiato has about half as much caffeine as a cappuccino. It has just over 85 mg per serving.
Espresso drinks such as macchiato are among the most popular and requested in cafes worldwide. You can even give a delectable twist to this drink by adding salted caramel syrup for coffee.
This creamy salted caramel macchiato is the perfect balance of sweet and salty. Made with frothed milk, salted caramel sauce from scratch, and espresso.
Salted caramel has become a very popular flavor in recent years. This appeal stems primarily from the combination of the two flavors, which doubles the taste sensation.
I think this flavored macchiato appeals to a lot of people (especially the younger ones) because of its sweetness. And although it is called a macchiato, it is not the same as a traditional espresso macchiato.
Most of the time, a salted caramel macchiato contains significantly more milk and caramel sauce. This is usually the case with most flavored coffee drinks.
A macchiato and a piccolo have a very subtle flavor difference. A piccolo has a stronger chocolate flavor, whereas a macchiato has a stronger coffee flavor.
If you taste them side by side, the flavor difference is especially noticeable. You’ll find that the flavor of the macchiato is more intense. It has a stronger coffee taste compared to piccolo because it is made with a double espresso shot.
Some people prefer macchiatos because they like stronger coffee flavor, whereas others prefer piccolos because they have a lighter and more subtle flavor.
Piccolo vs Flat white
A flat white coffee's consistency is similar to that of a piccolo, resulting in a well-blended drink.
A flat white is an espresso shot with steamed hot milk. This is a very milky coffee with a 1:8 ratio of coffee to milk. That’s pretty similar to an American Latte.
Before pointing out the differences, let’s mention their similarities. Both the piccolo and flat white can be compared to a latte.
Despite its slightly smaller size and similar milk consistency, a double shot of espresso in a flat white produces a much stronger espresso flavor than a piccolo.
A flat white is a more concentrated drink with a stronger coffee flavor than milk. Because of the use of two shots, it can also be more caffeinated than a latte.
You’ll find that the flavor and intensity of espresso are combined with the rich mouthfeel of a dairy-based drink in a flat white.
Ideally, you should use medium roast espresso in making a flat white. You need the type of coffee that pairs well with velvety sweet textured milk. If you choose a coffee that is too fruity or acidic, you may experience a curdled taste.
You might want to steer clear of some Kenyan blends in making a flat white.
Also, both the piccolo and flat white have foam on top. The flat white likely has less foam compared to other coffee drinks such as cappuccino.
Unlike the cortado or piccolo, a flat white allows baristas to pour more intricate latte art.
You’ll find that the perfect execution of espresso + micro texturing + steam in milk is the perfect formula to elevate these coffee drinks.
Lastly, the more obvious difference between the piccolo and the flat white is the size. While the piccolo is served in a 90 ml cup, the flat white is served in a bigger 160 ml cup.
Piccolo vs Cortado
The single-shot piccolo is less intense, sweeter, and more delicate than the cortado. While the cortado has a bolder espresso flavor and is less sweet due to less milk in the cup.
Small coffees may appear to be the same, but there are a few key differences. Knowing the distinction between these two coffee beverages will help you order the correct coffee.
Both drinks are made with ristretto but the cortado is made with two ristretto shots and equal parts milk.
A cortado is a Spanish word that means "cut off." It refers to how this espresso-based drink is “cut” with steamed milk.
And weirdly enough, a coffee shop as big as Starbucks should have cortado on its menu, but they don't. It's not an official Starbucks espresso drink.
But since Starbucks is pretty open to you customizing your drink, you can ask for a double shot of espresso with 2 ounces of steamed milk on top. They’ll be able to give you a drink close enough to a cortado.
The cortado is most closely related to the macchiato. Some would even argue that these drinks are one and the same!
The main distinction between a macchiato and a cortado is that a cortado is made with an equal amount of steamed milk. On the other hand, a macchiato is made with steamed milk and very little foamed milk.
A cortado is typically served in a small cup, or in a demitasse if it is a single shot. On the other hand, piccolos are typically served in glasses.
If it's a double shot, it can also be served in a regular cup, but it won't be filled all the way to the brim. You need just enough milk to equal the amount of espresso.
The foam level of a cortado's steamed milk is very thin. Usually, this is much less than that of a piccolo. It looks closer to the foam level of a flat white.
The milk softens it slightly while still retaining the coffee's original flavor.
These coffee concoctions are fantastic for anyone who wants to try different espresso origins and blends. But they’re also great options if you don't want to deal with the intensity of a straight-up espresso shot.
How to make Piccolo coffee
All these coffee recipes are kind of hard to keep track of! But the great thing about knowing which coffee is which is finding the one you love best.
Why box yourself in one single type of coffee when you can try a lot of different flavors? Trying out piccolo can be a good place to start.
If you want, you can make your own piccolo drink at home. First off, you’ll need a few things beforehand:
What do you need
- An espresso machine
- Fresh favorite coffee ground for espresso.
- Milk of choice.
- A frother or steamer (optional) if your espresso machine doesn’t have one
Step 1 Make your ristretto
First off, you need to brew one ristretto shot which is approximately 15g.
Whether you buy espresso or grind your own beans, you'll want to use a traditional fine grind for your piccolo latte. Avoid using a coarse grind.
If you use coarse ground, you’ll end up with a watery, sour cup that lacks sweetness and complexity.
Using finer grounds makes extraction quicker and easier because of the higher surface area.
Ristretto translates to "short" in Italian. A shot contains the same amount of coffee as an espresso shot but only half the amount of water. Coffee becomes the star of the show when you use significantly less water!
You can try aiming for this flavor by extracting a shot of espresso, between 20–30 ml. As a result, the flavor is even more robust and intense than that of an espresso shot.
Get a 90ml glass of your choice, and pours the ristretto into the glass. Don’t forget to leave a little room for a small layer of foam on top.
When your ristretto is done, set it aside.
Step 2 Prepare your foam
The next step in making a piccolo is steaming your milk of choice.
Steam your milk to around 60°C/140°F, allowing enough air into it to create some microfoam. Make sure it’s stretched and silky.
Avoid making the milk too frothy. Remember, you're working with a smaller glass than a normal latte. Also. you'll be needing mostly milk —not foam.
You can use a frother or steamer if your espresso machine doesn’t have one.
A piccolo is typically made with cow's milk. Well, most of the traditional coffee beverages use cow’s milk. But then some people are lactose intolerant or just plain allergic.
Although using regular milk might taste best in this drink, you can always try something else, given the recent rise in milk and creamer alternatives.
You can instead use coconut milk or liquid coconut creamer because they are creamier than almond or cashew milk.
Step 3 Pour…in style!
The last step is to fill the rest of the glass with your steamed milk
But don’t just thoughtlessly pour in your milk. There needs to be technique!
You need to pour between 40–60 ml of milk onto the ristretto at a slight angle with a bit of height. This allows the milk to mix nicely with the rest of the coffee.
To finish, give a little room for a small layer of foam on top. You can even add a little bit of latte art for this.
Making your piccolo coffee at home
Do you have an espresso machine at home? If your answer is, yes, then you're ready to go in making your own piccolo coffee.
If not, just speak with your barista and ask them to try the piccolo recipe we just gave you.
The more we talk about the piccolo drink and enjoyed it in its own right, the more likely it is to appear on coffee shop menus.
There are numerous milk and espresso drinks we can try, each with its own distinct flavor. However, the smooth yet punchy piccolo latte deserves some attention.