7 After-Dinner Espresso Ideas to Serve Over the Holidays

FYI: Dinner parties have a golden hour, too. It's that final stretch when everyone’s full, happy and bubbling with conversation.

The trick to keeping that magic going? Espresso. With the help of a few chefs and bartenders we’ve rounded up seven after-dinner drinks, all using Peet’s Espresso capsules, which deliver an intensely flavorful cup with a rich crema straight from a Nespresso® machine. Get set to bring new life to your table.

peets espresso
Peet's Espresso

Whip Up An Espresso Mocha

Making a custom mocha for every guest looks impressive, but it takes almost zero effort. The warming drink has just two ingredients—and one of them is liquid chocolate. Happy holidays, indeed.

Here’s how to make one: Select your favorite Peet’s Espresso capsule blend and prepare one serving. For this, we love the chocolatey-smooth Ristretto, which delivers the concentrated flavors of a "short pull” espresso (meaning the barista has used less water, as opposed to a lungo, or long pull). Prepare a mug of hot chocolate as you like and pour in the espresso.

espresso martini

Mix An Espresso Martini

“An espresso martini is a classic,” says James Urycki, mixologist at Travelle Kitchen + Bar in Chicago. “Keep it simple and avoid cream. This recipe perfectly encapsulates what an espresso martini should be: rich and bold.”

Here’s how to make one: In a shaker, combine 1.5 ounces vanilla-infused vodka (you can make your own by dropping one vanilla bean into a bottle of vodka two weeks ahead of your party), 1 shot of freshly brewed Peet’s Espresso, 0.5 ounces of coffee liqueur (Urycki suggests St. George NOLA) and 1 spoonful demerara syrup. Shake vigorously for 10 or 15 seconds, then strain into a coupe glass and serve. You want to shake well enough to aerate the liquid, which will create a velvety smooth micro-layer of foam on top of the cocktail when you strain into your coupe glass.

espresso shot

Or, Do A Boozy Espresso Shot

Amaro, a pleasantly bitter Italian liqueur, is a fun way to spike an espresso shot while staying on theme. Aaron Paul, the beverage director for Alta Group restaurants--including Alta Adams in Los Angeles’ West Adams neighborhood--created this recipe, which he coined a Shot in the Dark.

Here’s how to make two espresso shots: In a shaker with ice, combine: 2 ounces vanilla vodka (Paul suggests Grey Goose La Vanille), 2 servings of freshly brewed Peet’s Espresso, 0.5 ounces of coffee liqueur (Paul suggests Mr. Black), 0.5 ounces of whole milk, ¼ ounces of chocolate liqueur (Paul suggests Meletti Cioccolato) and ¼ ounces Averna Amaro. Shake vigorously. Double-strain into shot glasses.

espresso affogato

Simplify Dessert By Serving Affogato

A fancy name for ice cream mixed with espresso, affogato is every bit as heavenly as it sounds.

Here’s how to make one: Select and prepare your favorite Peet’s Espresso capsule blend. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to a chilled glass. Pour espresso over the ice cream right before serving. Top with a sprinkle of chopped nuts or a citrus peel.

espresso milkshake

Make An Espresso Shake

CREAM, the playful ice-cream-sandwich shop with locations in Colorado, California, Nevada and Florida, serves a caramel macchiato shake that screams “best party ever.” Co-founder Gus Shamieh suggests topping it with whipped cream, caramel-sauce drizzle and a cherry—it’s like a pretty bow on top of what was already the perfect present.

Here’s how to make one: In a blender, blend 3 scoops of your favorite ice cream flavor, ¼ cup milk, 2 servings of freshly prepared Peet’s Espresso and a generous squeeze of caramel sauce. Pour in a tall glass.

espresso mousse

Go (undercover) Healthy With An Avocado-espresso Mousse

Avocado, chocolate and espresso? Yes, really! “This is a killer dessert that incorporates good fats without dairy or heaviness, so you can accommodate all your guests,” says chef Mareya Ibrahim, author of “The Clean Eating Handbook” and founder of Grow Green Industries, a company providing eco solutions for food safety. 

Here’s how to make one: Use a spoon to scoop the flesh from 1 large, ripe avocado, and puree it in a food processor until smooth. Add ¼ cup raw cocoa powder, 1 freshly brewed Peet’s Espresso capsule, ¼ cup good quality granulated stevia or monk fruit extract and 2 drops pure orange essential oil and pulse again until completely blended and smooth. Spoon into glasses and chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Top with raspberries, blueberries, slivered almonds, fresh whipped cream or shredded coconut.

peets coffee italian espresso
Peet's Espresso

Serve Straight Espresso, The Right Way

“When I lived in Italy, I soon came to understand that good espresso is kind of a religion,” says Ibrahim. “No long-list menus. No ventis, trentis or complicated flavor combos. Just a drink that’s pure, dark and strong.” Your guests will appreciate this straightforward, Italian presentation.

Here’s how to make one (the right way): First, serve a small glass of sparkling water to each guest to cleanse their palates. Serve top-quality Peet’s espresso in a demitasse cup with a tiny spoon and a couple of sugar cubes and a little lemon rind on the side. If your espresso is made right, it will look like there's a cream topping on the surface--kind of like the creamy foam on a beer. It’s created by the force of the water cutting through the espresso, and it's called ‘crema,’ although there's no milk in a classic espresso. It helps to keep the flavor in. Tell guests to follow your lead and dissolve one or two sugar cubes into the hot espresso with the back of that cute spoon. They can drop the rind in their espresso to mellow the taste with acidity, or chew on it after they finish. If you're feeling fancy, bring out a little plate of amaretti or biscotti, and a rock sugar stick to stir instead of a spoon.

purewow author

Freelance PureWow Editor