Coffee Recipe: The Gibraltar

Coffee Recipe: The Gibraltar

If you frequent specialty coffee shops you probably saw The Gibraltar on the menu and maybe you?ve even ordered it.

I?ve had it a few times in the past and I?ve always been confused about what it actually is, and how it?s different from other espresso-based drinks on the menu so I decided to do a little bit of digging.

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What is The Gibraltar?

The Gibraltar is an espresso-based drink with steamed milk very similar to a cappuccino. The big difference is that it?s served in a 4.5 oz Libbey Gibraltar rock glass, compared to the more traditional 4.75 oz ceramic cappuccino cup.

The Origin

There are very few coffee drinks that have such a clear history. The Gibraltar was developed by the owner of Blue Bottle Co. in the beginning of 2005.

Image for postPhoto by Ben Kolde on Unsplash

It?s the result of experiments with different ways of making coffee and more importantly, for this drink, different ways of serving it.

After it started making waves in San Francisco, other big coffee companies started serving it. Some of the first were the Chicago based Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, Co and New York?s Cafe Grumpy.

Little by little it started showing up all over the country in specialty coffee shops.

The Recipe

In order to make The Gibraltar, and not a cappuccino, you need to have a Gibraltar Rock Glass, or at the very least a 4.5 oz glass tumbler.


  • 1 espresso shot
  • 85 ml milk
  • hot water

Heat up the Gibraltar rock glass with some hot water for about 5 minutes. While the glass heats up, steam the milk using the steam wand of the espresso machine, being careful not to overheat the milk (if you have a thermometer you should aim for 150 to 160 F/ 65 to 70 C). While the milk settles, pull an espresso shot in the warmed glass. Then pour the milk into the cup using a slight wiggle motion.

A quick note on the milk

In order to get the best milk foam for your Gibraltar, I recommend using fresh cold full-fat milk. Low-fat milk will do, but the foam won?t be as rich. If you?re using a non-daiy option make sure not to overheat the milk since it tends to burn much more easily.

The problem with The Gibraltar

There?s a bit of controversy around the drink. The traditional cappuccino cup is designed to keep the cappuccino from cooling down too fast so it can be enjoyed at just the right temperature. Using another vessel, especially a glass one will make the drink cool down faster, potentially making the drink less enjoyable.

Have you tried The Gibraltar? Do you think the glass will cool it down too fast or do you think that the glass tumbler is just enough to take a boring old cappuccino to the next level and make it interesting again?


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