What It Means To Order Espresso 'Con Panna' At Starbucks

If you're a regular at Starbucks, you have probably already honed in on your perfect drink with everything from the size of your cup to the kind of milk to the number of pumps of flavored syrup, but have you ever tried an espresso con panna? If you are ever in need of a little boost from sugar on top of your usual kick of caffeine, order this delicious drink to enjoy a shot of espresso topped with whipped cream.

As is the case with espresso and so many aspects of popular modern coffee culture, the term "con panna" comes from Italy. The Italian words translate into English literally as "with cream." This alternative to your usual splash of milk or half and half adds an extra rich, sweet flavor that balances the bitter notes of coffee. It's the perfect choice for an extra cold day or whenever you could use a tiny pick-me-up. Want an extra boost? Order it doppio — aka a double shot of espresso.

How to make espresso con panna at home

On the days when you want a special coffee, but don't feel like leaving the house, you can still enjoy an espresso con panna at home. Whether or not you have mastered the art of making latte milk foam, preparing this drink is easy. The first thing to do is make your whipped cream. All you need is two ingredients: heavy cream and powdered sugar. For a boozy alternative, try a bourbon whipped cream to give your drink a cocktail feel.

To start, whip your heavy cream by hand or in an electric mixer until it becomes frothy. Then add the powdered sugar and vanilla extra and beat until soft peaks form. Once this is ready, you can brew your coffee as usual, then spoon the whipped cream on top and enjoy. Make a single serving to have immediately or prepare a larger batch of whipped cream and store it in the refrigerator for about five days. Making the whipped cream in advance is also a great option if you're hosting brunch and want to prepare espresso con panna for friends.

Variations and pairings for your creamy coffee

For a fun and easy variation on espresso con panna, you can take inspiration from another traditional Italian treat: tiramisu. To do so, whisk a dollop of mascarpone into your whipped cream and top your drink with a sprinkling of cocoa powder. Another option is to incorporate other flavors directly into the whipped cream with the addition of spices or extracts. The delicately earthy flavor and floral fragrance of cardamom whipped cream is especially delicious with the dark taste of espresso.

While the term "con panna" comes from Italy, it is possible that the origins of coffee with whipped cream are rooted in a neighboring country, Austria,  with its popular Viennese coffee (espresso with hot water, topped with whipped cream and cocoa). Here, coffee shops are known for their elaborate desserts. Among these is the sacher torte, a dark chocolate cake with a bittersweet chocolate glaze on top and a layer of apricot jam in the middle, which makes an excellent accompaniment for an espresso con panna.