What is espresso? Still confused on what it really is?

What is espresso
Close up of coffee machine is preparing coffee in coffee shop


What is espresso? It’s simply just another method of preparing coffee.

We’ve always encountered people asking “What actually is espresso?” With that follows questions like Where did espresso originate? What’s the difference between coffee and espresso?

How exactly do you drink it? Can you use sugar when drinking it? What’s the froth on top? Making espresso uses a different kind of coffee bean right?

History of Espresso Coffee

Before we go any further and answer, let us briefly take a look at its history. No, espresso wasn’t invented by Starbucks! It was actually invented in 1901 by Luigi Bezzera who built and patented a coffee machine that had a boiler and four divisions.

This machine was termed “Tipo Gigante” and later the “Fast Coffee Machine” Simply because the brewing time was much faster since it allowed the best qualities of the coffee bean to be extracted. This is believed to be the birth of the “modern” espresso.

Why modern? It is believed that as early as the 15th century, people were drinking coffee, that is rich and dark, in small cups.

In 1903, Desidero Pavoni bought the patent since Bezzera had no money for marketing the espresso machine.

In 1905, his company started to market the La Pavoni and the espresso machine was born. But as for the pump-driven machines, in which all modern espresso machines are derived from, we have to thank Achille Gaggia.

In 1961, after years of experiencing burnt coffee flavor, M. Faema made an improvement to the Gaggia espresso machines by creating a machine with an electric pump that forced water through the coffee – similar to what we are seeing today.

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There are people saying that espresso is derived from the French word exprès, which means “especially for” or “purposely” for you. Others believe that is derived from the Italian word “fast” or verb meaning “to put under pressure.” Just like the history of its word, there have been a lot of misconceptions aboutespresso.

Let us closely look at some of them and hopefully some of your questions can be answered.

Is espresso a type of bean?

No. We believe that this is the most common misconception of all regarding coffee beans and this is due to bad marketing by coffee chains, grocery stores and other coffee retail outlets. Any coffee bean can be used in making espresso.

Is espresso a type of blend?

No. Coffee roasters usually design specific blends in making espresso beverages, but that blend does not make it an espresso. They design different blends because some people prefer entirely arabica coffee beans while others love to add robusta in the blend in making espresso taste better and more flavoured.


So, What is Espresso?

It is actually used to describe the preparation of the coffee. There are different ways of preparing coffee, a list that includes the use of percolator, stove top coffee maker, coffee press (French press), vacuum pot and more. Making espresso is brewed in its own unique way.

Espresso is a dark strong-tasting coffee made by using an espresso machine to pass steam and hot water (not boiling) under pressure through finely ground and compacted coffee beans. It is served as 1 or 2 oz shots in what is known as a demitasse (white porcelain espresso cup) or as base of coffee drinks such as a café latte, café mocha or cappuccino.

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To ensure that making espresso is just right, there are certain things you must consider.

The dose of ground coffee should be approximately 6.5 to 7 grams for single shot, and 12-18 for double.

The ground should be firmly pressed down the portafilter to make it compact. Pressurized water, 9 bar, from the espresso machine is forced through the coffee in the portafilter which results in an espresso with 25-30 ml volume of coffee in cup.

The total extraction time is 20-30 seconds while the temperature of the boiler is approximately 120 degrees Celcius.

Making espresso is an art and you can see it with the formation of the heart, body and crema. The heart being the dark base of the drink, the body is the middle layer of the espresso and helps to prevent you from drinking the bitter part of the coffee while the crema, or the golden foam, helps hold the flavors of the espresso.

And if you are a passionate about hiking and spending time outdoor, you may want to make espresso on the go with a Nanopresso portable coffee maker too, which is quite handy when you’re in the middle of nowhere.

It also tells us if the drink is under extracted or not. The three of these combine quickly due to heat loss and should be served immediately at a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

So now that we’ve answered your question, Is it good to put sugar in it?

As for drinking espresso with sugar, Italians often drink their espresso with sugar and there’s nothing wrong with this. But for true drinking pleasure, one must try it just as it is. Don’t be scared to put a little sugar. Remember this is the base for a lot of sweeter coffee drinks.

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Just think of it this way, our usual coffee makers at home, which is pouring water over roasted, ground coffee beans contained in a filter and slowly dripped into our carafe is one way, while making espresso is another way of making coffee. Whatever you learned today regarding espresso, always remember to enjoy your drink and savor every drop of this romantic drink.

Now if someone asks you about how to make espresso coffee, we hope you’re more confident in telling them what it really is. Go out and have fun making espresso everyone!

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