What Is Espresso Con Panna (3 Steps To Make It)

An Espresso Con Panna is an espresso served with whipped cream on top, the cream is usually unsweetened and whipped enough to sit on top of the espresso.

It’s a more decadent version of the espresso macchiato which is espresso served with milk from on top and is a fancier way of having cream in your coffee.

It’s again, an Italian name meaning Espresso with Cream. Although, the name was largely out of fashion for a long time ever since Starbucks added it to their menu it’s slowly been creeping back onto menus across the country.

It’s also known as a Cafe Vienna, and in parts of Europe, you’ll find it known as a Cafe Viennois or a Viennese coffee.

But once again, as with the Spanish Latte, it’s the same base coffee that’s been renamed and invented over and over again in lots of different countries. It’s whipped cream on coffee, after all, it wouldn’t take a genius to want to try it!

A lovely espresso con panna

Why Whipped Cream?

The question that came to my mind while I was researching this was why bother whipping the cream?

After all, cream in coffee is already delicious so what’s the point of whipping it and putting it on top?

I thought about this for a while and decided if you start pulling that thread you end that all coffee should be black or with milk.

some whipped cream in a stand mixer

Because a cappuccino is served with milk foam on top, and you could argue there’s no point just make a latte, and then you could argue why steam it why not just add cold milk?

And before you know it we’ve lost all of the fun coffee drinks you find on the menu at a cafe so if you want to whip the cream, go ahead and whip the damn stuff!

Plus it looks cool having them layered if you serve it in a glass and as it slowly melts in the flavor changes while you drink it.

I also like to make mine with some vanilla essence whipped into the cream, which if you’ve read a few of my articles you know I’m a sucker for vanilla coffee!

How Does It Taste?

Kind of like if you put cream in espresso…

I kid.

The cream helps take away some of the intensity you get when you drink straight espresso, and because it’s on top you can decide how much of the intensity you leave present by deciding how much you stir it before you drink it.

A lovely espresso shot

Do you want all the intensity of the espresso in a mouthful that then mixes with the cream in your mouth? Or do you want a smooth overall experience that comes from stirring it first?

Overall, it makes the espresso richer, less harsh, and, well… creamier.

It also covers up some of the harshness that you might get if you made a bad espresso.

The Espresso con Panna isn’t a sweet drink by any means, the cream adds some sweetness in the same way that adding milk does but it’s not sweet in the way you’d get if you add sugar.

Even if you add vanilla essence to the cream it doesn’t make it overly sweet so you can still add a spoonful of sugar to the espresso before the cream is added if that’s your thing.

How To Make An Espresso Con Panna

When there are only two main ingredients involved it couldn’t be easier.


  • Espresso
  • Heavy Cream
  • Vanilla essence (optional)

Step 1. Whip The Cream

You can buy the ready-to-go whipped cream you get in a can but I don’t think it does your coffee justice. It’s not heavy enough to really mix in with the espresso the way that home whipped heavy cream does so while it’s an easy cheat the results aren’t worth it.

So we need to whip our own cream. You want heavy cream because it’s the thickest most decadent, it will whip up thick enough to sit on top and adds the perfect flavor.

As I said before I like to put a little vanilla essence in mine to make it extra special but that’s entirely optional.

Step 2. Make The Espresso

a lovely fresh shot of espresso

If you’ve got an espresso machine then fantastic, go ahead and make your espresso as normal.

If you don’t then you’ve got two options, an Aeropress or a Moka Pot (well alright, make coffee any way you want and put some whipped cream on top, I won’t judge)

I like the intensity you get from a Moka Pot when I’m making espresso-based drinks but the AeroPress does work well if you like a really clean cup, which may actually be preferable with the Cafe Con Panna since the cream sits on top.

Any which way you decide you’re just going to want to make your coffee after you whip your cream so that it’s nice and hot.

Step 3. Layer Them In The Glass

Pour your espresso into the glass, and get a generous dollop of whipped cream on top. Boom, you’re ready to go.

And yes you can make it in a mug I won’t judge, and you could even sprinkle some cocoa powder on top for a little aesthetic and a little extra sweetness.

How To Drink It (Should You Stir It?)

I don’t like to get too stuffy about this, it’s a fast track to being pretentious and before you know it you won’t drink cappuccino after 11 am because it’s what the Italians do.

I think if you drink it how you want to drink it, I like to let the cream melt a little and then give it a good stir so that it’s nice and mixed and I only get a little cream mustache.

But as I said before you if you’re a black coffee fan then drink it as is without touching it with a spoon.

It’s all about personal preference.

Calories and Caffeine

It will be a bit hand-wavy if you’re making it yourself because it will depend on how much cream you add, but because it’s a small drink it will be surprisingly low calorie.

An espresso con Panna will have 75 mg of caffeine per espresso shot added and be 30-40 calories. The Starbucks Doppio Espresso con Panna is 35 calories with 5 extra calories per shot of espresso added.

But if you add more cream, that will mean more calories. Since it’s just a spoonful it’s not anything resembling a high-calorie drink.


Can it be served with sour cream?

If you’ve played Final Fantasy XIV you might have come across the item which is an Espresso con Panna, and the description talks about it being made with sour cream.

Now I think this must be a joke… Because it sounds disgusting, but I found a video where someone made this with sour cream whipped with sugar and that would salvage it somewhat.

If I ordered an espresso con Panna in a cafe and it got served with sour cream, not regular cream I would be horrified.

What is doppio or solo?

A doppio Espresso con Panna is when it’s made with a double shot of espresso and a solo

would be when it’s made with a single shot.

Final Thoughts

As long as there is no sour cream insight this is actually a really tasty drink, it’s creamy, it’s not too big, it doesn’t leave you with bloat, and gives you a big boost of caffeine.

It’s not one of my go-to drinks but it’s one worth trying if you haven’t had it before, or if you need a coffee boost that’s a little treat but you’re not particularly hungry.

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