Dirty coffee

Dirty Coffee – Everything You Need To Know

Dirty Coffee is all the hype in the Asian world and is well-deserved, as double ristretto poured over chilled milk makes an excellent coffee delight for any time of the day.

The word ‘Dirty’ might sound an alarm in your head, but it’s just an odd way of describing the signature marbling effect of espresso, slowly dripping into milk.

In this guide, we will delve deeper into the origins of this delightful drink, mouthwatering recipes, and everything you need to know about the trending Dirty Coffee.

Let’s dive in.

What is Dirty Coffee?

Dirty coffee is a relatively new espresso drink that has gained popularity in Asian countries like Japan, China, Thailand, and Bangkok. Basically, it’s two shots of ristretto-style espresso poured directly over chilled milk.

Its simplistic genius has made it popular in Asia, and it’s slowly becoming a thing in American and European coffee culture as well like with many other coffee drinks people like to play with recipes resulting in different versions of it offered across coffee shops.

Why Is It Called Dirty Coffee?

Fortunately, there is nothing “Dirty” about dirty coffee, and the name just refers to the charmingly messy way espresso gradually seeps into cold milk when it’s directly poured over it. It makes unique marbling visuals which is a treat to see.

What Is Dirty Coffee Made Of?

Dirty coffee mostly has two simple ingredients, an espresso shot, and cold milk. However, many modern coffee shops also like to add whippy cream, half-and-half cream, and vanilla syrup for velvety textures and extra sweetness.

What Kind of Beans Or Grounds Are Used For A Good Dirty Coffee?

It’s best to make ristretto-style espresso for Dirty Coffee. A ristretto is “restricted espresso” with a much bolder coffee taste. You’ll need a medium to dark roast coffee beans and a finer grind size to get the perfect ristretto shot. The dense espresso shot is ideal for layering in a dirty coffee.

We’ll discuss more about it in our recipe section.

How Much Caffeine Is in Dirty Coffee?

A single serving of Dirty coffee has about 60 mg to 80 mg of caffeine. Since it’s typically made with ristretto, the caffeine content is slightly lower than regular espresso.

How Many Calories Are in Dirty Coffee?

A single serving of dirty coffee with 4 fl oz of whole milk and 2 fl oz of espresso has about 75 calories. However, adding cream, sugar, and syrups to the cup will significantly increase the caloric intake.

Why Is Dirty Coffee Layered?

Layering is key when it comes to Dirty Coffee. It’ll be just like an ordinary latte without separate layers of espresso and milk. Also, it creates a unique flavor profile that is different from two ingredients mixed together.

The History of Dirty Coffee

Not much is known about the origins of Dirty Coffee. What we do know for sure is that it’s a really popular drink in Asian countries, specifically in Japan, where it’s rumored to have originated.

Some suggest that it was first served in Bear Pond Espresso, a Tokyo based cafe that is considered a popular coffee spot by many Asian tourist guides. Later, other coffee shops also started including it in their menu. People loved it, and it became popular, therefore if you find yourself in Tokyo, it’s worth giving their dirty coffee a try.

Who Invented Dirty Coffee?

The exact inventor of Dirty Coffee is unknown. However, it’s believed to have first appeared one menu of Bear Pond Espresso, a coffee shop in Tokyo, Japan.

Where Is the Dirty Coffee From?

Dirty coffee is a gift from Japanese culture, likely to have its origins in Tokyo during the early 2000s.

How Is Dirty Coffee Made? — 3 Easy Steps

Here is the step-by-step guide to making classic dirty coffee at your very own home.

Step 1: Preparing Milk

Take out chilled milk right from the refrigerator and pour 4-5 oz (120 ml) into a coffee glass. A see-through one is better because you get to enjoy the cool aesthetics of Dirty Coffee.

If you fancy a creamier texture, try mixing 3 oz milk with 2 oz half-and-half cream. Put the glass back in the fridge to let it cool, and move on to the next step. A cool glass makes layering in Dirty coffee easier.

You can also try vegan options like oat milk and almond milk, which are equally tasty yet much healthier.

Step 2: Preparing Espresso

We need a dense and bold ristretto-style espresso for the top layer. A ristretto has a 1:1 coffee-to-water ratio.

Take 17-18 g of fresh coffee beans and grind them to an extra fine consistency. This will restrict the flow and help extract robust flavor. Now evenly distribute the coffee ground in a portafilter. Tamp it firmly and attach it to the espresso machine.

You can use any other coffee maker but an espresso machine is preferred choice for this drink.

Step 3: Pull the Ristretto Over Cold Milk

Take out the chilled glass of milk from the fridge and place it directly under the portafilter.

Pull a shot for 17-20 sec only. Ideally, you want grams of coffee and extract time (in seconds) to be the same number for the perfect ristretto.

Do not stir. Let the espresso slowly drip down the sides, creating a messy yet appealing marbling effect, a signature of dirty coffee.

Enjoy your delicious delight.

Dirty Coffee Recipe

Dirty Coffee

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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cup


  • Espresso machine
  • Serving glass


  • 1 - 2 oz Ristretto (espresso)
  • 4 - 5 oz (85-118 ml) whole milk
  • 2 oz Half and half cream (optional)


  • Pour 4-5 oz chilled milk into a serving glass and put it in the fridge.
  • Next, grind 17-18 g of fresh coffee beans to an extra fine consistency.
  • Gather coffee grounds in a portafilter and tamp it. Reattach the portafilter to the machine.
  • Take out the chilled glass from the fridge and place it right under the portafilter.
  • Pull a ristretto-style espresso shot for 17-20 sec directly on top of the cold milk. Do not stir.

How Do You Drink Dirty Coffee?

To get the best out of Dirty coffee, drink it slowly and give it a slight whirl after every sip. Since it combines full-bodied hot espresso and chilled milk, the two tastes slowly blend together in epic harmony.

What Does Dirty Coffee Taste Like?

What Does Dirty Coffee Taste Like

Dirty coffee is truly delicious, offering a unique mouthfeel with every sip. First, you’ll taste hot full-bodied espresso with robust flavor yet a hint of sweetness. Next, the creaminess of cold milk blends perfectly with the inherent bitterness of coffee, making it a lukewarm cup of coffee goodness.

What Is the Difference Between Dirty Coffee And French Press?

Dirty coffee and French press coffee offer distinct flavor profiles. Dirty coffee features a concentrated, full-bodied espresso shot over milk, while the French press, a manual brewing tool, yields a bold yet flavorful, slightly bitter black coffee.

What Is the Difference Between Dirty Coffee And Iced Latte?

Dirty Coffee is a layered drink with a distinct robust espresso layer on the top and chilled cold milk or cream at the bottom. While an Iced latte doesn’t have any layers, and all the flavors are mixed together. Layering changes the flavor of the drink.

What Is the Difference Between Dirty Coffee And Dirty Chai Latte?

Though both drinks have espresso shots, the difference lies in the base of the drink. Dirty coffee has a base of chilled milk, and Dirty chai latte is a fusion of black tea with milk and some other spices.

What Is the Difference Between Dirty Coffee And Dalgona Coffee?

Dirty and Dalgona coffee have a similar appearance, but they are actually quite different. Dalgona coffee has a milk base and a creamy topping made from instant coffee, sugar, and hot water mixed all whipped together in a thick paste. You can also serve it with ice.

In comparison, dirty coffee has a chilled milk base but is topped with ristretto-style espresso shots. The two have distinct yet delicious flavor profiles.

Types Of Dirty Coffee – Dirty Coffee Flavors

Are you bored of drinking classic dirty coffee? Then try these variations of dirty coffee to spice things up a bit.

Dirty Coffee with Moka pot

Instead of an espresso shot, this drink has full-bodied Moka pot coffee poured over cold milk. Different but equally delicious.

Dirty Matcha

Mouthwatering matcha concentrate poured over cold milk for a refreshing treat.

Dirty Choco

A blend of milk, cream, and chocolate syrup crowned with a full-bodied espresso shot.

Coconut Dirty

A blend of coconut milk and cream mixed together with coconut sugar and topped with espresso shots.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Order Dirty Coffee?

Most specialty coffee shops and third-wave cafes have Dirty Coffee in their menus. If there isn't one, you can simply ask for a chilled glass of cream or milk topped with an espresso shot.

What Is Dirty Coffee At Starbucks?

Starbucks doesn't sell Dirty Coffee specifically, but coffee lovers can order "The Undertow" from the secret menu, which has similar ingredients. It features vanilla syrup, milk, and an espresso shot floating on top. Or you can order a Dirty Chai latte which is essentially a chai tea latte topped with two espresso shots.

What Is Double Dirty Coffee?

A Dirty Coffee with double shots of espresso is sometimes called "Double Dirty." Also, while it's not an official name for any drink, some cafes consider a shot of espresso with chocolate syrup as "double dirty."

Is Dirty Chai Healthy?

Yes, Dirty Chai is as healthy as any other coffee drink. Just remember to enjoy it in moderation. Since it contains chai (black tea) and a shot of espresso, the caffeine content is higher, giving you a stronger energy boost.

What Is in A Dirty Chai?

A dirty chai or dirty chai latte simply has shots of espresso added to the original drink. In coffee culture, adding coffee to a drink that originally didn't have coffee as an ingredient is referred to as "dirtying" it.


Well, now you know every single detail about the trending coffee beverage. We’ve also discussed different types of coffee with similar ingredients and explored their subtle nuances. So, try our recipe and adjust it according to your liking. It may take one or two tries to nail the layering effect, but it’ll be worth it.
Happy sipping!