What Is Short Black or Black Espresso?

As there is a wide variety of espresso drinks to pick from, it’s not always easy to stay on top of all the options available. On top of this, it’s possible to find a certain drink being called by different names depending on the coffee shop you go to, making the process of choosing a drink even more complicated.

A short black is actually one of those alternative names, but it’s actually going to make sense when we tell you what a short black actually is. If you are familiar with the long black, you most likely already figured out what a short black is as well.

Simply put, a short black is just a shot of espresso. While the word “short” refers to the fact that there is no water added, the word “black” refers to the color of the espresso. If you ever hear the words short black being mentioned, you should simply think of a regular, single espresso shot in a cup.

At this point, you may be wondering what a black espresso is, considering that an espresso by itself is already black. Simply put, black espresso is a term that is used to emphasize a shot of espresso that doesn’t have anything added to it, similar to how we say black coffee.

On that note, the term “black espresso drink” is used to describe non-milk-based espresso drinks, such as an americano where espresso is combined with water only. Black espresso drinks are closer to black coffee in terms of flavor and mouthfeel as opposed to the majority of espresso drinks that contain milk.

How Do You Make a Short Black?

To make a short black, you will require an espresso machine.

  1. Fill your portafilter with fine ground coffee, and attach it to your espresso machine.
  2. Fill the water reservoir of your espresso machine with the necessary amount of water.
  3. Turn your espresso machine on, and let it warm up.
  4. Place a cup under the portafilter, and start the brewing process.
  5. Enjoy!

Black (Non-Milk) Espresso Drinks

If you are a black coffee lover who would like to try some espresso drinks, you will most likely want to go for non-milk espresso drinks as opposed to the espresso drinks that contain milk in them.

Here are some black espresso drinks that have a similar flavor profile to a cup of black coffee.

Perhaps the most known espresso drink, a cup of americano consists of a shot of espresso and hot water. 

Despite containing less coffee than a cup of drip coffee, an americano will provide you a coffee experience that is quite similar to black coffee.

Long Black

You can think of the long black as a reversed americano, where an espresso shot is added on top of hot water instead. 

Due to the crema of the espresso not being mixed with water, a long black will offer a stronger first sip, with the rest of the drink tasting slightly weaker than a cup of americano.

Red Eye

Red-eye is an interesting espresso drink that you most likely haven’t heard about before, where a shot of espresso is combined with a cup of drip coffee.

As you can imagine, this drink is quite strong and packed with caffeine, which is why we feel like black coffee lovers will definitely want to try this one out.

Black Eye

If you thought red eye coffee was crazy as it is, then a black eye probably isn’t for you. This time, two shots of espresso are combined with a cup of drip coffee, creating a drink that is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Expect a very strong coffee flavor with a lot of bitterness when you order a black eye. That being said, the strength of the flavor will most likely surprise you even if you have prepared yourself mentally.

Espresso con Panna

It wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t have something in store for those who love a little bit of sweetness in their coffee.

An Espresso con Panna is the prepared by adding a bit of whipped cream on top of an espresso shot. While the drink itself is still quite strong due to whipped cream not mixing in with the espresso, it offers a tasty first sip.

What is the Difference Between a Short and a Long Black?

While a short black is simply no different than an espresso shot, a long black is an espresso-based drink where a shot (or two) of espresso is poured on top of hot water.

As you know, most espresso drinks are prepared by pouring ingredients such as water or milk on top of a shot of espresso. In the case of long black, you will notice that the espresso sits on top of the drink, which is why it’s also called a reverse, backward, or upside-down americano at times.

Due to the crema of espresso being intact in the case of long black, we can say that a long black is more similar to a short black in terms of flavor compared to an americano.

What is the Difference Between Short Black and Espresso?

There is absolutely no difference between a short black and an espresso as they refer to the same exact drink.

Short black is simply an alternative name for espresso that you may hear in certain areas such as Australia.

Whether you order a short black or an espresso, you should expect to get a standard 1 oz (30 ml) shot of espresso, served in a demitasse cup.

Is Black Coffee the Same as Espresso?

As black coffee refers to a cup of coffee that hasn’t been combined with ingredients such as milk, creamer, or sugar, a shot of espresso can technically be considered black coffee.

That being said, the term black coffee is often used for brewed coffee, such as drip coffee or pour-over coffee, and not espresso due to the differences espresso shows compared to other brewing methods.

While we certainly cannot say that black coffee is the same thing as espresso, we can say that espresso can technically be included in the category of black coffee. On that note, you should mostly assume that the term black coffee doesn’t refer to espresso.

As an example, if you order black coffee at the coffee shop, you should never be expecting to get a cup of americano even though it can also technically be considered black coffee due to not containing ingredients such as milk or creamer.


At the end of the day, whether you hear someone say espresso, black espresso, or short black, you should know that they are referring to the same drink.

Even though the need for a single drink having multiple names is definitely debatable, it doesn’t look like the trend will be changing any time soon, especially with coffee shops trying to come up with unique names for their products.

Have a great day, and enjoy your coffee!