What is Shaken Espresso? Differences, Recipe, & Starbucks Secrets

Last updated on September 30th, 2023 by Catherine Reed

What is shaken espresso
Photo by @iblamejacqueline

If you’re like me, coffee drinks that are served with a bit of flair feel like a real treat. That’s where shaken espresso comes into play.

Along with being genuinely delectable, the process of shaking the espresso is a lot of fun if you’re creating your drink at home. Plus, if you’re ordering a shaken espresso at your favorite café, it leaves you feeling a bit like James Bond. (shaken not stirred right?!)

But what is a shaken espresso exactly, and how does it differ from the other coffee drinks you may enjoy regularly? If you’re curious about shaken espresso – or want to learn how to make it at home – here’s what you need to know.

What Is Shaken Espresso?

What Is A Shaken Espresso
What is an iced shaken espresso?
Photo by Demi DeHerrera

Shaken espresso is similar to an Italian shakerato. It’s an espresso drink that’s served chilled, making it incredibly refreshing. With a traditional Italian shakerato, espresso is placed in a shaker that’s filled with ice, and it’s shaken to chill the espresso and create a beautiful frothy texture.

If you’re wondering, “Is shaken espresso sweet?”, it typically has a touch of sweetness. There’s usually little sugar or simple syrup added to the espresso before it’s shaken, giving it a slightly sweet taste.

When you order a shaken espresso, there’s usually at least one more ingredient in the mix: milk. The milk is added after the chilled and frothed espresso is poured into the glass so it isn’t shaken. In some cases, other flavorings are also used to create flavored shaken espresso drinks, but that’s optional.

Additionally, when you order a shaken espresso, it’s served over ice, so you could also call it an iced shaken espresso. An Italian shakerato is served without ice in the glass.

So, what’s the difference between shaken espresso and regular espresso?

Well, instead of serving the espresso hot or simply pouring over ice to cool it for colder drinks, the espresso is chilled by combining it with ice in a shaker and shaking it. The shaking action required to make a shaken espresso also froths the espresso, leaving it highly aromatic and giving it a lovely mouthfeel. Yummy!

Shaken Espresso vs. Iced Coffee

If you’re wondering, “What is the difference between shaken espresso and iced coffee?” there are a few points where the two drinks differ.

First, iced coffee isn’t shaken when it’s prepared. Second, iced coffee uses French press, Chemex, or drip coffee in most cases, while shaken espresso uses espresso shots instead.

Finally, iced coffee may or may not contain milk or sweetener. With shaken espresso, adding milk to the drink is essentially a given, and using some sugar or simple syrup is the norm.

Shaken Espresso vs. Latte

So, what is the difference between shaken espresso and a latte? One of the main ways the two stand apart is how they’re prepared. While a shaken espresso involves shaking espresso over ice to create a froth, that’s not how a latte is made.

If the latte is hot, steamed milk is added to a hot espresso shot. With an iced latte, cold milk is stirred into the espresso shot, and you may have a touch of cold foam, but that’s technically optional.

Additionally, when milk is added to a shaken espresso, it’s not stirred into the drink. Instead, the milk is allowed to slowly drift toward the bottom, giving you a more varied experience.

Shaken Espresso vs. Cold Brew

Cold brew coffee uses a coffee concentrate that’s created by allowing coffee grounds to steep in cold or room-temperature water for long periods, usually 12 to 24 hours, and it’s served over ice. Further, the coffee concentrate is often diluted using a bit of cold water or milk, though whether you cut it and by how much depends on your unique taste preferences.

Shaken espresso uses espresso, not coffee. Additionally, the espresso is brewed hot and chilled by shaking it over ice before serving. The espresso is only diluted through the addition of milk, as adding water isn’t part of the shaken espresso recipe.

Shaken Espresso vs. Macchiato

Like shaken espresso, a macchiato does use a shot of espresso. Also, a macchiato typically has just a splash of gently frothed milk, while a shaken espresso typically uses a bit more. As a result, the macchiato often has a much stronger coffee flavor.

Traditional macchiatos are also very small drinks, featuring far less milk than you get when ordering a macchiato at Starbucks. Effectively, the larger versions are latte macchiatos since there’s so much more milk than the classic version.

Variations and Flavors

Variations and Flavors
What are your coffee flavor options?
Photo by Nathan Dumlao

While a classic shaken espresso doesn’t include any flavorings, it’s a solid starting point for a wide array of flavor profiles. The various Starbucks versions of the shaken espresso are prime examples. Starbucks has four flavored varieties that are currently part of its core menu. Those include:

  • Oleato Iced Shaken Espresso with Oatmilk and Toffeenut
  • Iced Toasted Vanilla Oatmilk Shaken Espresso
  • Iced Brown Sugar Oatmilk Shaken Espresso
  • Iced Chocolate Almondmilk Shaken Espresso

If you’re wondering, “What is in a brown sugar shaken espresso?” it features espresso, milk, brown sugar syrup, and cinnamon powder.

What is in a toasted vanilla shaken espresso? It has toasted vanilla syrup added to the milk and espresso.

So, what is in an iced chocolate almond milk shaken espresso? That has espresso, almond milk, and chocolate malt powder.

The Oleato iced shaken espresso with oatmilk and toffeenut uses oat milk instead, and it has toffeenut syrup in place of other flavorings. Typically, these drinks use blonde espresso roast instead of a more traditional espresso roast, too.

However, Starbucks essentially lets you customize any drink. You can start with its iced shaken espresso, choose your milk type, select your espresso roast, and add any of the available syrups, sauces, and other toppings to the mix, letting you create your own flavor profile.

How to Make Shaken Espresso Recipe

How to Make Shaken Espresso Recipe
How do you make a shaken espresso?
Photo by pariwat pannium

If you’re looking for a shaken espresso recipe you can use at home, you’re in luck. Making shaken espresso is incredibly simple, and it doesn’t require much special equipment. All you’ll need is:

  • 2 shots of hot espresso
  • 1 ounce of simple syrup
  • ¼ cup of your preferred milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Ice

Take the cocktail shaker and fill it about ¾ full with ice. Put the espresso shots and simple syrup in the shaker, put on the shaker lid, and rapidly shake the shaker. Keep shaking until condensation starts forming on the shaker, which usually happens in about 15 seconds.

After shaking, strain the sweetened espresso into a glass that’s filled with ice. Top the espresso with the milk, and you’ve made a shaken espresso.

If you want to add flavorings, you can do that, too. Simply used flavored syrup in place of the simple syrup. Usually, one to two pumps of flavored syrup does the trick, but feel free to adjust how much you use to ensure your shaken espresso is to your liking.

Was that yummy? Looking for more Starbucks Drinks ideas? Check out our list of favorite Starbucks beverages to try out!


What Is the Best Shaken Espresso at Starbucks?

Technically, the best shaken espresso at Starbucks is the one that you enjoy most. Everyone experiences flavors differently, so what is the best in your eyes might be different from what someone else likes, and that’s okay. Explore the various flavors and try a few custom creations. That way, you can get your perfect shaken espresso.

What Is the Hot Version of Shaken Espresso?

Generally, if you’re looking for a hot drink that’s similar to a shaken espresso, you’re likely best off with a latte or flat white. Which is the better fit mainly depends on how much milk you want in the drink. If you prefer less, try a flat white. If you’d like more, go with the latte.

What Is an Upside-Down Shaken Espresso?

When an espresso drink is “upside-down,” it’s essentially referring to a preparation order that’s the reverse of what’s typically done. In the case of a shaken espresso, that means that instead of pouring the milk into a prepared shot of espresso, the espresso is poured into a cup that’s already got milk in it.

Coffee Has Never Read This Good!

Sign up for a FREE newsletter to the best home brewing tips and guides

Thank you for subscribing to The Cup Coffee House Crew! There's a surprise in your Inbox 🙂

Something went wrong.

Chief Editor

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *