The Italian Inspiration Behind Starbucks' Shaken Espresso

Before the popular Starbucks' shaken espresso, there was the shakerato. Like most basic espresso drinks available in American coffee shops, the shaken espresso was inspired by an Italian coffee. Its name tells all: The shakerato is essentially an espresso that's been sweetened lightly and shaken with ice to produce a gorgeous layer of velvety foam. The resulting drink is a frothy, chilled elixir that showcases the robust flavors of espresso while offering a revitalizing twist. Starbucks took inspiration from the idea of shaking the espresso to produce a light foam, although there are distinct differences between the Starbucks' shaken espresso and the original shakerato.

Starbucks' shaken espresso drink is a contemporary take on the shaken coffee concept that caters to the tastes and preferences of its consumer base. With the addition of milk and the ability to add different syrups, it is more akin to an iced latte with less milk. The appeal of this beverage though is indeed the beautiful crema that comes from shaking espresso with ice. 

The shakerato is strained

The Seattle-based coffee giant is notorious for its wide array of iced and chilled beverages. When comparing the sheer amount of ice found in Starbucks drinks to those in traditional Italian coffee, you'll be surprised. Starbucks' approach to the shaken espresso drink has a heavy emphasis on ice. The grande size option comes with three shots of Starbucks espresso that's been shaken with ice and then poured over more cubes — your cup will be filled at least halfway with ice. Then the rest of the cup is topped off with milk of your choice and four pumps of a flavored sweetener. The result is a sweet, milky, espresso-concentrated drink.

The profile of a traditional Italian shakerato is much more bold and bitter in comparison. This elegant concoction is made by combining freshly brewed espresso with a touch of sugar or sweetener, which is then vigorously shaken with ice in a cocktail shaker. Although the drink is shaken with ice, it isn't poured over a cup of ice — it's strained like an actual cocktail. You'll be left with a heavily concentrated but lightly sweetened espresso and a layer of foam from the aeration. Ice served in coffee isn't common practice in Italy, so the shakerato is more of a chilled espresso rather than an iced drink. If you want your Starbucks shaken espresso to taste more like Italian shakerato, try this ingredient swap for a stronger shaken espresso.