How To Make The Best Espresso Con Panna

With the recent popularity of coffee, there has been a rise in the need for new espresso-based drinks. Coffee shops are expanding their menus, and even home baristas are expanding their list of coffees to impress themselves or others. An espresso con panna is a drink that is quite popular in certain areas, partly due to Starbucks, but how would you make one yourself?

Making an espresso con panna requires three ingredients, namely water, coffee, and cream. Simply pull a shot of espresso and whip some cream to just before the stiff peak stage. When both the espresso and cream are ready, add a dollop of cream onto the shot of espresso to make an espresso con panna.

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Though this espresso-based drink is simple to make, there are some things you will have to consider to have the best experience. Some factors that could influence your espresso con panna include the espresso, the cream you use, and any additional flavorings you add to the drink.

What Is An Espresso Con Panna

An espresso con panna is a simple espresso-based drink consisting of a shot of espresso with some whipped cream on top. When translated for Italian, the name "espresso con panna" reads "espresso with cream," making it easy to see exactly what the drink is.

The most important aspects of this drink are the espresso and the cream, though there are people and shops that add flavoring to either the cream or espresso to sweeten or change the drink's taste. Making sure that you use a coffee bean or pod that you enjoy is key to having a good experience when creating and drinking your espresso con panna.

How To Make An Espresso Con Panna

With making an espresso con panna being such a seemingly simple process, it is easy to get overconfident and ruin your experience. It is always essential to research what to do and how to do it to keep the quality of your drink at its best. The following list consists of detailed steps to help you make the best espresso con panna:

Grind your beans 

Since the most important part of your espresso con panna is your espresso shot, it is easy to see why your coffee grinds would significantly impact the rest of your drink. Use a burr, if possible, grinder to grind your beans directly into a portafilter or into a grinding cup if you're using a different brewing method.

Make sure that you grind your beans fresh if possible. Grinding fresh coffee will improve the taste of your coffee as well as its aroma. Using pre-ground coffee can result in a lack of flavor or cause your beans to go bad. Pre-ground beans are also usually ground for a specific brewing method, meaning you have little choice for extracting your coffee.

It is also essential to ensure you use the right grind setting for your brewing method and the beans you intend to use. Different beans may have different optimal extraction grind sizes, and using an espresso machine compared to a Moka pot can also influence your grind size. The grind setting for a Moka pot is more coarse than espresso grinds.

Put grinds in the filter and tamp

Once your beans have been ground, you can pour your ground coffee into the filter you will be using to brew your coffee. If you are using a traditional espresso machine, you will also need to tamp your grinds by using a tamper and applying even pressure to the ground coffee in the filter.

If you are using a Moka pot, you mustn't apply pressure to your grinds as this could result in bad-tasting coffee, over or under extraction, or other problems. Instead, drag your finger over the filter horizontally and clean off any access grinds on the rim.

If you use a Nespresso machine to extract your espresso, grinding your beans is not a step you need to include in this process. Instead, simply insert your preferred Nespresso pod into your machine and ensure your water tank has enough water in it before pulling your shot.

Brew your espresso

After your coffee has been prepared in the filter, it is time to start brewing your coffee. If you use an espresso machine, you can insert your portafilter into the group head and secure it in place by twisting the handle until it is tight.

After that, select your shot or start the brewing. You can use either single or double espresso for this drink and place a warm cup or glass under the portafilter to collect your espresso. Ensure you do not over or under extract your espresso and keep the glass warm to prevent heat loss when pulling your shot.

If you are using a Moka pot, insert your filter between the top and bottom layer of the Moka pot, secure the top half in place, and start the brewing process by introducing the pot to your preferred heating method. Once the coffee has finished brewing, be sure to turn off the heat and remove the pot from the stove or burner.

When using a Nespresso machine, simply choose your preferred extraction setting to start your espresso extraction once your pod has been inserted. The extraction settings usually give you options for a single espresso, double espresso, or americano.

Whip your cream

While your coffee is being brewed, especially if you are using a Moka pot or automatic espresso machine, pour some heavy cream into a mixing bowl. You can also choose to use a cream with lower fat content if you desire.

You can whisk your cream either by hand or by using a mixer if you prefer. Make sure to stop whisking your cream once it gets close to the stiff peak stage for optimal results but stopping at the stiff peak stage is also acceptable.

If you do not want to whisk your cream, you can also use a pressurized cream can that produces whipped cream. Using this method means the step mentioned above does not apply to you. Both low-fat cream and pressurized cream are not preferred as making your own and using heavy cream will make for better flavor or extra customization.

Add cream on top of espresso 

Once your perfect espresso shot has been pulled, or your Moka pot coffee has been added to a cup, you can add the cream on top. If your cream is at the stiff peak stage, it might be a bit trickier to scoop in as it tends to stick to your spoon.

Make sure to scoop the cream onto the espresso gently as not to mix the cream with the coffee, as this will result in a less aesthetically pleasing result.

Add toppings if you wish

The last and optional step before you get to drink your espresso con panna is to add topping on top of your cream. Toppings commonly include things like chocolate powder or flavored syrup. This step is optional as the traditional espresso con panna does not have toppings on the cream.

Tips For Making Improving Your Espresso Con Panna

Though making espresso con panna is quite simple, there are still ways you can make it taste even better. Looking at the following tips and using them as guidelines could help make a good experience a great one.

Quality Coffee

Whether you are using a Moka pot, Nespresso, or espresso machine, the quality of the beans you use to extract your espresso is crucial to the taste and experience of your espresso con panna.

If you prefer using a Moka pot or espresso machine, you must know the quality of the beans you will use for this drink. It is also essential to use beans that have a flavor you enjoy, as the espresso part of this drink will still be the prominent flavor you taste. This drink should not be made with beans you're trying for the first time.

If you are using a Nespresso machine to pull your espresso shot, it is also essential to use a pod that you know. You can use different coffees with Nespresso, and some are even flavored, so make sure you use your preferred pod when making this drink to ensure the best result.

Grind Fresh

Another aspect that can significantly improve your experience is grinding your beans fresh. Pre-ground coffee tends to lose flavor faster than the same coffee in bean form. Using a burr grinder is your best bet to make the most of your coffee experience in general and is recommended for this espresso-based drink.

If you do not have a burr grinder, there are other ways to grind your coffee, though these methods cannot be used to create grinds for an espresso machine.

Use good quality products

The quality of the beans you use can make a big difference, but so can the cream and water used in the process. If you are making an espresso con panna it is vital to use the freshest cream you can, and though you can use low-fat cream, it is always suggested you use proper heavy cream for the best result.

The water you use can also affect the taste of the coffee, and therefore, it is essential to either use a machine with a water filter or use filtered water if your device does not have a filter.

Add Flavorings to the cream

Though this will not result in the most traditional of drinks, many people do this. By adding a flavored syrup or sweetening your cream, you can create a drink better suited to your pallet if you so choose. There are syrups explicitly made to enhance or add flavor to cream if you desire.

Add flavorings to the espresso

As mentioned above, some Nespresso pods come with flavorings, and though not all people enjoy it if you wish, you can add flavors of your own to your espresso after it has been brewed.

To do this, simply add some flavored syrups to your espresso shot after it has been extracted and stir the coffee to make sure it dissolves into the espresso itself. You can also add sugar if you wish.

Adding flavorings or sweeteners to your drink isn't a necessity, but if you are struggling to drink straight espresso or prefer sweeter things, this is a step that you are welcome to add to your process. One of the reasons coffee has grown so popular is because it can be customized in many ways to suit your preferences.

How To Drink Espresso Con Panna

If you want to make an espresso con panna, you might be wondering how you're supposed to drink this espresso-based drink. Though this mainly depends on your personal preference, there are more common ways than others.

Mix your cream

The first way to drink your espresso con panna is arguably the more popular way of enjoying this drink. This method involves using a spoon or stirrer to mix your coffee and cream before drinking.

Mixing your cream and coffee when drinking an espresso con panna results in a sweeter experience while also contributing to a full and creamy mouth feel. If you enjoy adding toppings to your drink or mixing flavors or sweeteners into your coffee or cream, this is probably the method you would choose.

Non-mixed drink

For the more experienced espresso enthusiasts or anyone who enjoys the taste of clean espresso, there is also the option to keep your coffee and cream separated.

Since this drink is generally served in layers, it is easy to drink the espresso first and then drink or eat the cream afterward. There is also the option of positioning the cup so that you can drink both cream and espresso without it being mixed. Drinking espresso con panna this way gives you a cleaner espresso taste and added cream texture.


The basic steps to making a good espresso con panna are easy to follow. Of course, the way you choose to change or enjoy this drink is up to you and your preferred tastes. If you are looking to enjoy an espresso con panna or if you are looking to add this drink to your menu, following some basic guidelines can help you to improve the drink and experience significantly.

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