Last Updated on February 19, 2023 by Timothy Byron Smith
Espresso is the essential ingredient in many of your favorite Starbucks beverages. Research shows that 50% of Americans consume it. In fact, even espresso machine production is a flourishing industry! But have you ever wondered what is an espresso? What is this mysterious liquid that is sweeping the world?
Find out everything there is to know about espresso right here! From its history to the recipe and delicious drinks you can make, there is much to learn!
What is an Espresso: Overview
Have you ever wondered how espresso differs from coffee? Wondered what is the right way to make espresso? Did you ever want to save money and make cafe-style espresso or coffee at home? Well, here are your answers and solutions to everything!
Origin & History
Did you know that espresso originated in Italy? Yes, the place deserves more credit than just for pizza. And if coffee has ever made you want to thank someone for it, the deserving person for your gratitude is Angelo Moriondo.
He is that genius dude who created the magic all the way back in 1884. Obviously, he didn’t have the advanced super-automatic espresso machines of today. How did he do it then? It seems that the desire for caffeine can truly make you go above and beyond for it.
Mr. Moriondo patented the steam-driven machine that produces the delectable beverage in 1884. In 1902, the first espresso machine was invented. Isn’t it evident how far we’ve come since then? The espresso machine has seen a lot of advancements. Plus, coffee drinkers can now be found in every corner of the world!
What Does Espresso Mean?
To be very blunt, espresso is a type of concentrated coffee. It is rich, intensely flavourful, and produced in a small quantity using an espresso machine. When the machine pours pressurized and steaming water through the ground coffee, you get espresso.
An espresso has all the flavors of a regular coffee, only amplified. It will taste bitter yet somewhat sweet, and acidic yet toasty. You can make an espresso using any kind of roasted coffee beans. Still, some will make better espresso than others. It all actually depends on your preference.
So You Know What it is But How is it Made?
The process of making an espresso is fairly simple. You will need a couple of things for the espresso coffee recipe:
- Espresso machine
- Ground coffee or whole coffee beans
- You’ll need a grinder if you’re using whole coffee beans
- Glass or cup
Warm up your espresso machine ahead of using it. Make sure its water tank is full. Now all you have to do is fill the portafilter with ground coffee. If you’re using whole coffee beans you will need to grind them first before adding them to the portafilter.
Attach the portafilter to the machine and place your cup on the tray beneath the spout. Press the right button (choose whether you want a single or double shot) and your espresso will be poured into your cup. It’ll take just a few seconds.
Acidity Level: Is it Very Acidic?
Espresso has a typically acidic taste. However, its level of acidity is less than that of medium roast coffee and light roast coffee. You’ll find the ph level of espresso to be around 5.5 or 6. This acidity plays a crucial role in creating the precise flavor that people enjoy in espresso.
Caffeine Content: Let’s Debunk Some Myths!
Espresso generally carries the reputation of having a high caffeine level compared to coffee. This is both true and false at the same time. For it all usually depends on the amount of espresso you drink.
Espresso is a concentrated coffee and, thus, is likely to have higher caffeine content. However, it is served/drunk in smaller quantities. So, it can frequently contain lesser caffeine than normal coffee. However, because of its naturally high caffeine levels, larger quantities of espresso could cause a caffeine overdose.
You can understand it this way. A single shot of espresso normally comprises 29 to 100 mg of caffeine. On the other hand, a cup of standard coffee can contain as much as 80 to 200 mg of caffeine. Again, it all depends on how MUCH you consume.
What Should You Expect in Terms of the Taste?
Imagine your regular coffee. An espresso tastes like that except extremely intensified and velvety in flavor! Also, it boasts a unique flavor due to a difference in the way it’s brewed and the beans roasted.
So, brace yourself for a strong concentrated coffee with bold flavors, richness of coffee, and intense taste. You can expect less acidity but it will overall leave you feeling fuller because of its heavy consistency.
And What’s This About ‘The Crema?’
If your espresso got the crema, it’s the perfect shot of espresso!!
You’ll notice a light brown foamy layer on top of your shot of espresso when you extract it from the espresso machine. The layer is called crema. Crema forms as a result of the air bubbles combined with soluble oils in your ground coffee.
It contains various aromatic components that contribute to the depth of your espresso’s flavor. Also, crema is responsible for the espresso aftertaste on your tongue!
What is Meant by an Espresso Shot?
The process of using an Espresso machine to produce an espresso beverage is called the espresso shot. Think of ‘shot’ as a measure of quantity. Espressos are made and drunk in small quantities due to their intense concentration. You never make a cup of espresso like you make a cup of coffee. You get it in a single shot or double shot.
The espresso made can be transformed into other beverages like a latte or cappuccino by adding a larger amount of milk to it. However, the amount of espresso remains the same. A single shot typically contains 1 ounce of espresso. The process of making this espresso shot is called ‘pulling a shot.’
Types of Espresso Shots
Apart from your usual single or double shot of espresso, baristas around the world have invented other ways to serve espresso. Some other shots include:
- Ristretto: Nope, it’s not a triple shot espresso. In fact, this drink contains barely a full ounce of concentrated espresso.
- Macchiato: This is a popular fancy delicacy. A classic macchiato contains about two ounces of espresso and a little bit of frothy milk.
- Doppio: A doppio is a double shot espresso. It typically contains two ounces of the strong beverage.
- Cafe Noisette: A double shot of espresso with an ounce of steamed milk.
- Lungo: It’s similar to a doppio in that it also contains two ounces of espresso. The only difference is that this double shot is far more concentrated.
While espresso itself is a very intense drink and not everyone’s cup of coffee, it can make for some extremely exquisite drinks! You will not believe the sensational pleasure your taste buds enjoy with these espresso drinks.
The following are only some of the drinks from an endless variety of delicacies!
- Affogato: Calling it coffee is pretty unjust. Made with 2 ounces of espresso and 3 ounces of yummy vanilla ice cream, Affogato is more a dessert than coffee!
- Mocha: A treat for the chocolate lovers! A mocha is made with 30ml steamed milk, 60ml espresso, and 50ml chocolate.
- Cappuccino: A fan favorite no doubt. Made with 2oz espresso and 2oz each of steamed and frothed milk, cappuccinos are a frequently consumed coffee beverage.
- Breve: This rich beverage with creamy consistency is made using double shot espresso and 3 shots of the half and half.
- Latte: Lattes are another commonly consumed favorite coffee beverage. They’re made using 2oz of espresso combined with 10oz of steamed milk. Topped with a bit of milky froth.
Want to Make Your Own Espresso at Home: Quick Steps to Help You Out
You can very easily make and enjoy espresso at home. The good news is you do not always need an espresso machine for it!
Process With an Espresso Machine
If you have an espresso machine you can make espresso with a few quick and easy steps. All You need is coffee, water, a grinder, and of course your espresso machine. If you’ve got ground coffee you can skip the grinder.
Fill the water tank of your machine. Preheat your espresso machine for fifteen minutes and place your cup on the warming tray at the top. Begin by grinding your coffee beans if you’ve purchased the whole. Put the ground coffee in the portafilter, tamp it, and insert the portafilter back in the machine.
Place your cup on the drip tray under the spout. Now, with the press of a button your machine will extract the espresso in just a few seconds!
Process Without an Espresso Machine
There are different ways of making espresso without an espresso machine. One way includes making it in the Moka pot.
In your Moka pot pour three-and-a-half ounces of water and add two tablespoons of finely ground coffee to the filter. Screw the lid on tightly and place the pot on the stove or burner. Now, all you have to do is wait for the coffee to start expanding. When the top part of the pot fills with coffee, pour and drink!
Wanna Know How to Drink Espresso Like an Italian?
Did you know there is a right way of drinking espresso? This Italian beverage is meant to be drunk the proper Italian way like a pro. There are only three steps to it.
- Skim away the crema: Yes yes we told you the crema is very important. But you want to avoid it when drinking the espresso because of its intensely strong taste. Pick up a spoon and skim it off.
- Give it a stir: Espresso, despite its richness of flavor, is not meant to be drunk as it is. Give your drink a little stir.
- Sip it, don’t Gulp it: It’s important to enjoy the unique flavors and the bold taste of this beverage. Don’t just gulp it down. Divide it into two to three sips and take a pause after every sip. Appreciate its richness and aroma. It won’t take long since espresso is only an ounce or two.
Are Coffee and Espresso Not One and The Same Thing?
Taking coffee and espresso to be the same thing is a popular misconception. While every espresso is a coffee, not all coffee is espresso. Here are some basic parameters over which espresso stands distinct from regular coffee:
- Roasting: Compared to regular coffee, beans for espresso are roasted till they are very dark. A higher level of roasting brings out the strong flavors and low acidity which are the essence of espresso.
- Grinding: Coffee beans for espresso are supposed to be ground finely. Unlike regular or drip coffee, they cannot be coarse.
- Brewing: The most prominent difference manifests in the way espresso and regular coffee are brewed. While you can make coffee in different ways, espresso needs to be brewed in an espresso machine under a pressure of 9 bars. Moreover, espresso is brewed quickly with pressure within seconds compared to regular coffee.
Can Drinking Espresso Have Benefits?
You will be shocked to know that there are a number of benefits to consuming espresso! Here are a few to perk you up:
- Of course, you can use espresso to create a number of different delicious coffee drinks. It is the backbone of lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, and whatnot.
- Research shows that drinking espresso can improve memory, increase concentration, and enhance mood.
- Espresso has also been seen to minimize risks of diabetes (type II) and stroke.
- This beverage is known to increase productivity and performance.
- Since espresso, unlike other coffee, isn’t made using filters it contains far more natural nutrients that benefit the health.
So, from now on you can drink your favorite beverage without any guilt or fear! Remember to not overdo it though.
Finishing it Up
With all this information overload it is time you ex-presso your love for espresso by pulling yourself a shot! And if you’re planning to invest in an espresso machine, must have a look into the features it offers.
You now know the espresso coffee recipe as well as how to make other delicious coffee drinks using it. Plus, your health is not likely to suffer as a result either. And the next time someone asks you ‘what is an espresso?’ you can tell them it is coffee but superior!
Tim is the author and webmaster of this blog. He is a coffee aficionado who has always strived to succeed by simplifying the many facets of the coffee business into engaging and informative writing. In addition to helping readers discover their next brew, he intends to educate them about espresso and coffee.