Do You Pour Milk Or Espresso First? What’s The Right Way?

There are various opinions regarding the right way of preparing a cup of coffee. Among coffee aficionados, a highly discussed matter is whether to pour the milk or espresso first. Some believe that pouring milk first is the right way, while others argue that espresso should be poured first.

So, do you pour milk or espresso first? 

Milk is poured before the espresso in the latte to create a sweeter, creamier taste. The espresso is poured first followed by steamed and frothed milk when making a cappuccino. Nonetheless, the sequence of pouring may differ according to individual taste and the particular formula employed.

We understand this is too little to satisfy your curiosity. This article is decorated with all sorts of information that you might want to learn about regarding this.

So, what’s the hold up? Let’s start brewing!

Do You Pour Milk or Espresso First?

Do you pour the espresso or milk first for an iced latte?

When making an iced latte, it’s common to pour the espresso over the ice first before adding the milk. This helps to cool down the hot espresso quickly and prevents it from scorching the milk. Additionally, pouring the espresso over the ice allows it to blend with the cold water from the melted ice, resulting in a smoother and less bitter taste.

milk first for an iced latte

Once the espresso has been poured over the ice, cold milk can be added to the glass to create the iced latte. The milk should be cold and not steamed, as steamed milk can cause the ice to melt too quickly and dilute the drink.

Do you pour the espresso or milk first for cappuccino?®

It’s a generic dilemma among enthusiasts whether to put milk or coffee first in cappuccino. The general rule of thumb is to pour the espresso first, followed by the steamed milk, and then the frothed milk on top. This pouring order helps to create the signature layered effect of a cappuccino.

The hot espresso is poured into a preheated cup first to ensure that it stays hot and does not cool down quickly when the milk is added. Next, steamed milk is added to the cup, filling it about two-thirds of the way. Finally, a layer of frothed milk is added on top of the steamed milk to create a thick and creamy layer.

By pouring the espresso first, you can also ensure that the milk is properly mixed with the espresso to create a well-balanced flavor. Additionally, the frothed milk on top of the cappuccino provides a perfect canvas for latte art, which can enhance the overall presentation of the drink.

Do you pour the espresso or milk first for mocha?

When making a mocha, espresso is usually poured first into the cup, followed by the addition of steamed milk and chocolate syrup or powder.

The espresso is the foundation of the drink, and pouring it first allows it to mix with the chocolate flavors and ensure a balanced taste throughout the drink. The steamed milk is then added to the espresso and chocolate mixture, creating a smooth and creamy texture. 

Finally, the chocolate syrup or powder is added to enhance the flavor of the drink. Overall, the order of pouring is an important factor in achieving the perfect balance of flavors and textures in a mocha.

The Science of Coffee Making

The most widely consumed drink globally is coffee, and it has evolved into a daily requirement for numerous individuals.The science behind the perfect cup of coffee goes beyond just brewing techniques. 

The Role of Milk And Espresso in Coffee Making:

In the realm of coffee, milk and espresso are critical components that can either make or break it. Espresso, a concentrated coffee shot, offers a full-bodied and robust taste that serves as the foundation for many coffee beverages.

On the other hand, Steamed milk helps to achieve a smooth and creamy texture, while frothed milk adds a light and fluffy texture.

Milk And Espresso in Coffee Making

When these two elements are combined, espresso and milk create a delightful harmony in coffee drinks. The milk complements the intense flavor of espresso, while the espresso cuts through the sweetness of the milk. Together, they form a delectable and gratifying drink that coffee enthusiasts relish worldwide. 

How Milk and Espresso React with Each Other:

In steaming milk, a microfoam stratum is formed, which is vital for generating latte art and incorporating texture into the coffee. This microfoam is produced by warming the milk and instilling air bubbles.

The merging of microfoam and the espresso shot leads to a smooth texture and a pleasant, creamy flavor. Additionally, the milk-to-espresso proportion is crucial in determining the ultimate taste of the coffee. An excess of milk may dominate the espresso, while insufficient milk can result in overly strong coffee or an espresso too acidic.

The Pros and Cons of Pouring Milk First

Pouring milk first or pouring espresso on top of milk comes with some advantages and disadvantages of its own. Let’s have a look at them!

Advantages of Pouring Milk First: 

When making a latte or cappuccino, there are different schools of thought on whether to pour the milk or espresso first. Here are two advantages of pouring milk first:

Creamy Texture:

By pouring milk first, it allows the steam wand to heat and froth the milk without any interference from the espresso. This results in a creamier and smoother texture, which is a key characteristic of a well-made latte or cappuccino.

Easier to Control Milk-to-Espresso Ratio:

Pouring milk first also allows for easier control of the milk-to-espresso ratio. When the espresso is poured first, it can be difficult to gauge the amount of milk needed to achieve the desired taste and texture. However, by pouring the milk first, baristas can easily see the amount of milk in the pitcher and adjust accordingly.

Disadvantages of Pouring Milk First: 

Pouring milk first has some drawbacks as well. Have a look!

Risk of Scalding Milk:

One of the biggest risks of pouring milk first is that it can scald the milk. When the hot espresso shot is added to the cup, it can cause the milk to overheat, resulting in a burnt taste and unpleasant texture. This can also be dangerous, as scalded milk can cause serious burns to the mouth and throat.

Harder to Achieve Latte Art:

Another disadvantage of pouring milk first is that it can be harder to achieve latte art. When the espresso shot is added to the cup last, it creates a layer of crema on top of the milk, which can be used to create intricate designs. It’s more difficult to get the right consistency and texture for the latte art to hold its shape.

The Pros and Cons of Pouring Espresso First

When making coffee, the order in which you pour the ingredients can greatly affect the final outcome. Here are the pros and cons of pouring espresso first.

Advantages of Pouring Espresso First: 

When it comes to preparing coffee, pouring espresso first has several advantages over other methods. Two of the most notable advantages are better flavor and balance, as well as a smoother coffee taste.

Better Flavor and Balance:

Pouring espresso first allows for a more balanced coffee flavor. This is because the espresso shot provides a strong, concentrated flavor that forms the base of the coffee. By pouring the espresso first, components such as milk or water can be added in appropriate amounts to balance out the strong taste of the espresso. This ensures that the coffee has a consistent and well-balanced flavor.

Smoother Coffee Taste:

Another advantage of pouring espresso first is that it results in a smoother coffee taste. Because the espresso shot is concentrated, it can be more easily blended with other components of the coffee, resulting in a more harmonious flavor. 

Additionally, by adding the milk after the espresso, the temperature of the coffee is more easily controlled. You can use the KT Thermo or Norpro 5981 Espresso Thermometer to gauge the temperature to perfection.

Disadvantages of Pouring Espresso First:

Pouring espresso first comes with a few drawbacks as well. These are:

Risk of Over-Extraction:

When espresso is poured into the cup before milk, there is a risk of over-extraction. The hot espresso comes into contact with the cup first, causing it to extract too much coffee and become bitter. 

Over-extracted espresso can be acidic and ruin the taste of the drink, leaving a burnt or sour flavor in the mouth. 

Harder To Achieve A Creamy Texture:

Pouring espresso first can also make it harder to achieve a creamy texture. The milk is not heated and frothed to its optimal temperature, which affects the texture of the drink. Without the proper texture, the milk and espresso may not blend together as well, resulting in a less satisfying taste.

Having a  low pressure steam wand can also negatively affect the quality of the drink.

Affects Presentation of the Drink:

Pouring espresso first can also affect the presentation of the drink. Without a layer of creamy milk foam on top, the drink may appear less visually appealing, and it may not have the same velvety mouthfeel that is associated with a well-made latte or cappuccino.

How To Make A Perfect Cup of Latte & Cappuccino 

If you’re looking to perfect the art of crafting delicious lattes & cappuccinos, follow these simple steps:

7-Steps For The Perfect Coffee:

Follow these 7 steps to brew the very best cappuccino or latte: 

  1. Preheat your cup by filling it with hot water and letting it sit while you prepare the espresso and milk.
  2. Pull a shot of espresso into a small pitcher if you are making a cappuccino, or into a tall glass if you are making a latte.
  3. Froth the milk in a separate pitcher using the steam wand on your espresso machine until it is creamy and velvety.
  4. For a cappuccino, pour the frothed milk into the espresso pitcher and mix well. For a latte, gently pour the frothed milk into the espresso, using a spoon to hold back the foam.
  5. For a cappuccino, hold back the foam with a spoon and pour the milk and espresso mixture into your preheated cup. For a latte, once the glass is filled about three-quarters of the way, hold the foam back with the spoon and pour the remaining milk in.
  6. Spoon the remaining foam on top of the drink and sprinkle with cocoa powder, cinnamon, or nutmeg.
  7. Serve and enjoy your perfect cappuccino or latte!

By following these step-by-step guidelines, you can make delicious cappuccinos and lattes that will rival those made by the best baristas in the world. 

Schomer’s Denver Effect espresso will make you rethink about espresso!

Espresso To Milk Ratio For Different Espresso-Based Drinks

Drink Espresso to Milk Ratio
Espresso 1:0 to 1:0.25
Cappuccino 1:1 to 1:2
Latte 1:2 to 1:3
Americano 1:3 to 1:4
Mocha 1:1 to 1:2

Note that these ratios are approximate and can be adjusted based on personal preference. Additionally, the ratio can also depend on the size of the cup being used and the desired strength of the espresso flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Should you stir espresso and milk?

It depends on personal preference, but traditionally, the espresso and milk are not stirred in a cappuccino or latte to maintain the distinct layers of foam, milk, and espresso.

What is the 10 second rule for espresso?

It refers to the ideal time it takes for a properly extracted shot of espresso to flow into the cup. If the extraction takes longer than 10 seconds, the shot may be over-extracted and bitter

How do you pour espresso over milk?

Start by holding the cup at a slight angle and pouring the espresso slowly into the center of the cup. Then, lower the cup and pour the steamed milk gently over the espresso to create a layered effect.


That’s all for today’s brewing session. We hope that you got your answer for “do you pour milk or espresso first?” 

You should always experiment with the proportions to find your sweet spot when making coffee.

We’ll be back with more informative write ups very soon. Till then, Happy Brewing!