Espresso con Panna Recipe
(easy & tasty)

by Anne · Update MAR 18 2021

Say, “Ciao!” to the Espresso con Panna; a fun, easy, and tasty coffee recipe.

Much more than coffee and cream

The world of coffee is a wide, bright, and intriguing place. The espresso world on its own is one of the most fun, vivacious, and innovative places outside the realm of artisanal coffee bean cultivation! That is why today we will learn about one fantastic member of the espresso drink family; the espresso con panna. What’s more is we will learn how to prepare this excellent drink, too. Keep reading to discover more about the espresso con panna and why it is much more than just coffee and cream!

The origins of the espresso con panna

The name “espresso con panna” is Italian for “espresso with cream”. Though the name is certainly Italian, the exact place and time of origin for the espresso con panna are a bit fuzzy.
Some theories suggest it came about during the Second Wave of coffee in a coffeehouse following the style of some of Vienna's coffee confections. Other theories suggest the drink is older and may have come from Vienna itself, Germany, or even Turkey because the espresso con panna is traditionally served in a demitasse cup.
This ambiguity with the origins of European espresso-based drinks is pretty common and what further confuses things is that the espresso con panna goes by a few different names, depending on the region, too!
In France and the UK this drink is known as cafe Viennois. In Vienna, however, it may go by Franziskaner, which, once again confusingly, also refers to a Cappuccino. In some areas ordering an espresso con panna or a cafe Viennese or cafe Viennois may end up with you being served the same drink or maybe a slightly different one featuring brewed coffee instead of espresso and sporting more cream a la Weiner Melange! Confusing, no?
Well to clear up the confusion, an espresso con panna should only include a single or double shot of espresso with whipped cream, otherwise, you may be enjoying a Wiener Melange or some other drink!

So to be clear…

An espresso con panna is a single or double shot of espresso topped with whipped or hand-made cream. The name in Italian means “espresso with cream”. But now for the most pressing question, “how do you make it?”

Preparing espresso con panna

Though this drink requires espresso, coming by espresso shots may be a bit of a challenge for some folks at home. Certainly for those lucky enough to be in possession of espresso machines pulling a single or double shot will be a piece of cake. Otherwise, one can head to a local cafe, and short of simply ordering a cafe con panna, you can request espresso shots to go.
Otherwise, espresso can be substituted with certain brewing vessels to get as close to espresso as possible. Here are some great alternatives to pulling espresso shots if you are not in possession of an espresso machine at home;
  • Moka pot- dark roasted beans, finely ground, and tightly packed into your Moka pot’s ground filter can yield some very espresso-like textures, flavors, and aromas.
  • AeroPress- This unique and scientific mode of brewing prepares coffee by using concentrated blasts of water and air pressure. More or less the same principle as espresso! The coffee that comes as a result is similar to a shot of espresso, too and so if you have an AeroPress on hand feel free to use it.
  • French Press- Brewed correctly and with the right beans, roast type, and grind type, a good French Press brew can emulate espresso decently well with similar flavor and textural features. So, if you are looking for a way to match espresso, French Press is not a bad alternative.
Just keep in mind that with any of these styles, one should brew their coffee stronger than usual to try to emulate that concentrated and bold flavor, aroma, and caffeine jolt that espresso has.

Now as for the cream…

The whipped cream component for espresso con panna leaves amateur baristas with a lot of potential for creativity. One can just simply use store-bought whipped cream out of a can, or be a bit more artisanal and hands-on by preparing cream oneself. Keep reading to discover how to prepare this superb espresso-based beverage as a whole.

How to Make Espresso con Panna?

Getting this delectable espresso-based beverage is a piece of cake, and with the delicious cream component, you will feel like you are enjoying some cake, too! Let’s see the most precise way to get this drink ready.

What you will need:

  • Dark roasted whole coffee beans
  • Cream
  • Coffee grinder
  • Espresso machine (or a facsimile thereof!)
  • Hand or electric mixer
  • Filtered or purified water
  • Bowl
  • Demitasse cup or mug of your choice

The recipe

  1. First, prepare your cream by spooning some into your bowl and whipping and whisking it. You will know your cream is ready when you see it forming peaks, well-defined peaks are ideal.
  2. Next, measure and grind your beans. A fine grind is what you will want with espresso.
  3. Once ground, pour your grinds into your espresso machine’s portafilter.
  4. Now, add your water and pull one to two shots of espresso into your demitasse cup. For best results heat up your demitasse so that your espresso does not cool once it hits the cup.
  5. Then, spoon your cream onto the surface of your espresso. It should sit atop the surface rather than be mixed in or submerged, so place it carefully.

Bonus tips:

  • For those substituting espresso with their standard coffee brewing devices or with one of the few we mentioned above, be sure to brew your coffee extra strong. This way you can get a more similar flavor, caffeine, and consistency that espresso has to offer.
  • You can use pre-grounds but whole beans freshly ground will almost always be the better choice.
The espresso con panna is a simple, fun, tasty, and innervating coffee beverage to make at home and enjoy anytime. Perfect in the morning, refreshing after lunch, and delicious with dessert, the espresso con panna is the next espresso-based drink to add to your home-barista repertoire. Happy brewing and enjoy your espresso con panna


  • Espresso Con Panna. (2019, August 21). Wayfinder’s Galley.
  • Espresso con panna. (2021, June 27). Wikipedia.
  • Starbucks®. (n.d.).