How To Achieve The Perfect Creamy Foam On Top Of Your Espresso Martini

Invented in the 1980s, popular throughout the 1990s, and revived in the 2020s, the espresso martini continues to be one of the most popular orders at cocktail bars. Something about seeing that decadent-looking drink in its elegant martini glass or coupe topped with a heavenly layer of froth can make it hard to ask for any other drink on the menu. The taste, too, delivers on your high expectations with roasty, dark chocolatey espresso, vanilla sweetness, and a hint of booze. It would be a dream to enjoy this beverage at home, but the process of making it might intimidate some home bartenders. How, for example, does one even begin to get that perfect foam?

One genius hack for both beginners and those of us without espresso machines is that, yes, you can absolutely make a delicious espresso martini with a Nespresso pod. You'll want to choose which Nespresso pod you use for the cocktail based on its flavors, aromas, and roast level, which can affect factors like bitterness and astringency (both of which you want in restrained doses in order to temper sweetness). But your pod selection can also play a big role in your foam. When Tasting Table looked at the best Nespresso pods for espresso martinis, we found that the Ristretto Intenso worked exceptionally well. It has a big, bold roastiness and some body that beautifully balances the drink's coffee liqueur and vodka. It also happens to consistently produce a luscious crema layer.

Other ways to generate creamy foam on your espresso martini

If you have an espresso machine, after trying the espresso martini process just one time, you'll find that it's not so hard after all. The key, naturally, is a foolproof espresso martini recipe. So, how do you top your scratch-made espresso martini with that drink-defining foam if you're not using a Nespresso pod that creates it on its own?

It's all about your shaker technique. You need to aerate your espresso martini — in other words, you want to get air hitting your vodka, espresso, and coffee liqueur, where it will furiously whip into bubbles, which will form that cap of richly dense yet airy cream. To do this, make sure your cocktail shaker is tightly sealed, then really rock it with feeling for 15 to 30 seconds. 

You should also make sure your proportions are in order, because the coffee liqueur's sugar mingling with the foamy coffee itself plays a role in the crema production. Additionally, while you'll want to shake your martini with ice so it's chilled, don't use too much ice, as this will dilute all of those foam-producing sugars and bold flavors. You can get that cooling effect elsewhere: It's always a good idea to chill your glasses before making your cocktails. With some frosty glasses, a good recipe, and your new-and-improved shaking technique, you'll whip up an award-worthy espresso martini whether you use Nespresso pods or the real thing.