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What is an espresso with sweet cream?

An espresso with sweet cream is a delicious and popular coffee drink that combines espresso coffee with lightly sweetened cream. It’s a refreshing take on traditional espresso that softens its intensity while still allowing the espresso’s rich flavor to shine through.

In its most basic form, an espresso with sweet cream consists of a single or double shot of espresso topped with 1-2 tablespoons of sweetened cream or sweetened whipped cream. The cream helps mellow out the espresso’s acidity and adds a touch of sweetness to balance the drink. It creates a beverage that is creamy and rich, yet not overly sweet.

What is Espresso?

Espresso is a concentrated form of coffee that is brewed by forcing hot water under high pressure through very finely ground coffee beans. This brewing method produces a thick, syrupy coffee liquid that is topped with a golden brown layer of crema – the oils and sugars that are naturally present in coffee beans.

Here are some key things to know about espresso:

  • Uses finely ground dark roast coffee beans
  • Brewed under 9+ bars of pressure
  • Served in small 1-2 ounce “shots”
  • Intense, bold flavor with notes of chocolate, spices, and caramel
  • Higher concentration of dissolved solids than regular drip coffee

Compared to regular drip coffee, espresso has a more intense flavor profile and caffeine content per ounce. The high pressure used to extract it results in very efficient coffee extraction, producing a thick, concentrated liquid that almost looks like melted chocolate.

How is Sweet Cream Made?

Sweet cream is made by whisking heavy cream or heavy whipping cream with sugar until soft peaks form. The sugar adds light sweetness to tone down the cream’s richness. Here is a simple sweet cream recipe:

Sweet Cream Recipe

Ingredient Amount
Heavy whipping cream 1 cup
Confectioner’s or granulated sugar 1-2 tablespoons
Vanilla extract (optional) 1/2 teaspoon
  1. In a large bowl, combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract if using.
  2. Using a hand mixer or whisk, beat the cream mixture on high speed until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Refrigerate sweet cream until ready to use.

The sweet cream can also be made with additional flavorings like cocoa powder, spices, or coffee liqueur according to taste preferences.

How to Make an Espresso with Sweet Cream

Making an espresso with sweet cream at home is simple. Here is an easy step-by-step guide:


  • 1-2 shots freshly brewed espresso
  • 2-3 tablespoons sweetened whipped cream
  • Cocoa powder or cinnamon for garnish (optional)


  1. Brew 1-2 shots of espresso according to your espresso machine’s instructions.
  2. Pour freshly brewed espresso into a cup and let cool slightly if desired.
  3. Spoon or pipe 2-3 tablespoons of sweet cream over the top of the espresso.
  4. Garnish with a light dusting of cocoa powder or cinnamon if desired.
  5. Enjoy your espresso with sweet cream while it’s freshly made!

The sweet cream helps balance and mellow the espresso’s sharp flavor. Feel free to adjust the sweet cream amount to taste preferences. Some people enjoy just a dollop of cream while others like a thicker layer.

Customizations and Variations

One of the great things about an espresso with sweet cream is how versatile it is for customizations. Here are some popular ways to enjoy this drink:

  • Flavored sweet creams: Mix extracts, cocoa powder, pumpkin spice, etc into the cream for exotic flavors.
  • Whipped sweet cream: For an extra fluffy texture, whip the cold sweet cream until stiff peaks form.
  • Milk alternative sweet cream: Use non-dairy milk like coconut or almond milk to make it dairy-free.
  • Iced espresso sweet cream: Pour espresso and sweet cream over ice for a chilled summer drink.
  • Mocha sweet cream: Add chocolate sauce or cocoa powder to make it taste like a mocha.

You can also customize the types of espresso used:

  • Single shot espresso
  • Double shot espresso
  • Lungo pull espresso
  • Ristretto pull espresso

Playing around with different espresso types and sweet cream flavors allows you to create your perfect espresso sweet cream combination.

Where to Find Espresso with Sweet Cream

While making it at home is easy, you can also find espresso with sweet cream at most coffee shops and cafes. Here are some places it’s featured on the menu:

  • Starbucks – Offered as the “Espresso Macchiato”
  • Peet’s Coffee – Listed as “Espresso Con Panna”
  • Blue Bottle Coffee – Called “Espresso Soft Serve”
  • Intelligentsia – Named “Espresso with Sweetened Whipped Cream”
  • La Colombe Coffee Roasters – Called “Draft Latte with Sweet Cream”
  • Independent coffee shops

The presentation and naming may vary slightly depending on the cafe, but you can expect a similar beverage made with espresso and freshly sweetened cream. Independent coffee shops in particular often offer unique sweet cream flavors and artisanal whipped cream toppings.

Benefits of Espresso with Sweet Cream

Enjoying espresso with sweet cream offers several benefits:

  • Balanced flavor – The sweetened cream helps mellow out the espresso’s inherent bitterness and acidity.
  • Smooth and creamy – The whipped cream gives the beverage a lush, smooth mouthfeel.
  • Mild caffeine boost – Compared to black espresso, the sweet cream makes it less intense and jittery.
  • Highlight’s espresso’s flavors – The sweetness allows the espresso’s tasty notes to shine through.
  • Satisfying treat – It’s an indulgent but relatively healthy dessert-like beverage.

The combination of invigorating espresso shots with lightly sweetened, velvety foam makes this drink both energizing and deeply satisfying. It’s perfect for any time of day as a pick-me-up treat.

Espresso vs. Espresso with Sweet Cream: Key Differences

While both feature espresso, there are some key differences between straight espresso shots and an espresso with sweet cream:

Espresso Espresso with Sweet Cream
Served as concentrated 1-2 oz shots Shots are topped with 2-3 tbsp sweetened cream
Very strong, bitter taste Cream softens bitterness and adds sweetness
No additional calories 45-90 calories from sweet cream topping
Pure coffee flavor Cream adds vanilla, dairy flavors
Maximum caffeine content Cream dilutes caffeine strength slightly

So while both feature concentrated espresso, the addition of sweet cream transforms it into a sweeter, gentler, and creamier beverage.

Popular Espresso with Sweet Cream Recipe Variations

Here are some delicious recipe ideas to try different twists on the classic espresso with sweet cream:

Salted Caramel Espresso Sweet Cream

  • Make sweet cream using brown sugar instead of regular sugar
  • Flavor it with a pinch of sea salt
  • Top espresso with salted caramel sweet cream
  • Garnish with caramel sauce and sea salt flakes

White Mocha Espresso Sweet Cream

  • Add 2 tablespoons white chocolate chips and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon to sweet cream
  • Microwave briefly until white chocolate melts, stir well
  • Top espresso with white mocha spiced sweet cream
  • Garnish with cinnamon

Matcha Sweet Cream Espresso

  • Add 1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder to sweet cream
  • Whisk well until fully incorporated and light green color
  • Top espresso with matcha sweet cream
  • Dust with additional matcha powder

Feel free to get creative and dreams up your own signature sweet cream recipes!

How to Store and Reheat Espresso Sweet Cream

To enjoy espresso sweet cream again later, store and reheat it properly:


  • Store espresso and sweet cream separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
  • Espresso will keep for 3-5 days, sweet cream for 2-3 days.
  • Make sure to place plastic wrap directly on surface of cream before sealing to prevent skin forming.


  • Heat espresso shots in microwave or stove top until hot, about 30 seconds.
  • Whip chilled sweet cream briefly with milk frother or mixer until smooth.
  • Combine reheated espresso with whipped cream to enjoy.

Storing the components separately prevents the espresso from diluting the sweet cream. Then a quick whip and reheat makes this drink like new again!

Espresso Sweet Cream Recipes and Pairings to Try

Beyond enjoying espresso sweet cream on its own, it shines in many other recipes and pairings. Consider trying:

  • Affogato – Pour espresso sweet cream over vanilla ice cream for an decadent affogato treat.
  • Cocktails – Use in place of heavy cream or milk to make indulgent after dinner drinks and cocktails.
  • Milkshakes – Blend with ice cream for a grown up boozy milkshake.
  • Dessert topping – Drizzle over cakes, waffles, crepes, and other desserts.
  • Sweet cream cold brew – Mix with cold brew concentrate for a creamy twist.

Espresso sweet cream also pairs wonderfully with biscotti, cinnamon rolls, fruit tarts, and extra dark chocolate. Its sweet creaminess helps counterbalance many desserts perfectly. Explore all the possibilities this versatile ingredient offers!

Is Espresso with Sweet Cream Keto-Friendly?

Espresso with sweet cream can potentially fit into a ketogenic diet:

  • Heavy cream is naturally low carb and keto approved.
  • Avoid sugar in the sweet cream by using low carb sweetener like erythritol or stevia.
  • Watch carb counts if using flavored syrups or toppings.
  • Opt for full fat dairy and nut milks if using non-dairy creamers.
  • Stay within your daily macros and calorie needs.

Made properly with low carb ingredients, an espresso topped with unsweetened whipped cream or nut milk-based sweet cream makes a satisfying keto treat.

Is Espresso with Sweet Cream Vegan?

To make espresso with sweet cream vegan:

  • Use plant-based milk instead of dairy cream such as:
    • Coconut cream
    • Cashew cream
    • Oat milk creamer
    • Soy creamer
  • Sweeten with maple syrup, coconut sugar, or agave instead of white sugar.
  • Flavor with vanilla, cocoa, or pumpkin spice.
  • Top frothed non-dairy milk over espresso.

With the wide variety of vegan-friendly cream options now available, you can definitely enjoy a plant-based take on this classic coffee drink.

History and Origins of Espresso with Sweet Cream

Adding sweetened cream to espresso has a long tradition in coffee cultures around the world. Some key historical notes:

  • Early espresso in Italy was often served with a dollop of whipped cream or foam called “schiuma” in the 19th century.
  • Viennese style coffee in Austria featured whipped cream as early as the 1700’s, which was likely paired with espresso once it was invented.
  • Sweetened coffee cream (Sláinte) became popular in Ireland in the late 1800’s and was an early sweet cream-like accompaniment.
  • The US espresso craze of the 1980s-1990s made espresso with sweet cream fashionable at cafes across America.
  • Major coffee chains like Starbucks popularized espresso with whipped cream in the 1990s-2000s.

So while latte art and microfoam steamed milk dominate today’s espresso culture, a simple dollop of sweetened cream harkens back to much earlier coffee traditions. It’s a vintage twist on espresso that still satisfies modern palates today.


Espresso with sweet cream is a timeless beverage that offers the best of both worlds – intense espresso flavor mellowed out with lightly sweetened, fluffy cream. Its balanced flavor profile makes it appeal to both coffee purists and sweet cream latte lovers alike. So don’t be afraid to try this classic cafe treat on your home brewed espresso. The possibilities of flavors and customizations are endless.