What is Espresso?
Espresso is a type of coffee that is made by forcing pressurized hot water through finely-ground coffee beans. This produces a thick, rich coffee with a strong flavor, which is also ideal for lattes and cappuccinos. The best coffee beans for a robust taste are robusta, and the espresso cup is typically smaller than a regular coffee mug in order to intensify the flavor.
Most coffee drinks start with espresso, including the Americano. Instead of drip coffee, an Americano is an espresso with hot water.
The Best Espresso
Making espresso is a skill that takes some time to master. The key is to use a consistent grind size, brew for the correct amount of time, and use enough pressure to force the hot water through the coffee grounds. If done correctly, there should be a thick crema on top and a rich, complex flavor that is unique from other types of coffee drinks.
Best Coffee Beans
There are many different types of coffee beans that can be used for espresso, but some of the most popular varieties include Arabica and Robusta beans. Arabica beans are considered to be of higher quality, and they produce a smoother, more mellow flavor than Robusta beans.
However, Robusta beans are more bitter and have a higher caffeine content than Arabica beans. The grind size is important because it affects the extraction time and the final flavor of the espresso.
An espresso cup, which is also called a demitasse cup, is smaller than a traditional cup for coffee. It’s designed to allow the drinker to enjoy the rich flavor and aroma of the beverage.
Espresso servings are anywhere from a quarter to an eighth less than a typical cup of coffee. Any more would be too strong in flavor and may even contain too much caffeine for many people. So having smaller sizes ensures that everyone can enjoy their favorite drinks without overdoing it on caffeine or flavor intensity. And those stylish tiny cups keep the heat in better than larger cups or mugs.
How To Order Espresso
A single or double isn’t quite as straightforward in the espresso world. For example, a Doppio is a double shot, while a Lungo is also double the amount but made differently. Here’s a little cheat sheet that should help on your next coffee run.
- Espresso – a single pull of espresso (one ounce) – typically made with approximately 1 3/4 teaspoons of espresso grounds to an ounce of water
- Solo – the same as a single shot of espresso
- Ristretto – a shorter pull of espresso (approximately 3/4 of an ounce) that’s slightly sweeter than a single or double shot
- Short – the same as a Ristretto
- Doppio – a double shot of espresso made by doubling the ingredients (3 1/2 teaspoons of grounds to two ounces of water)
- Lungo – a double (two ounces), but it’s made with a longer pull instead of doubling the ingredients – the Lungo is a bit more bitter than a single shot or Ristretto
Ways To Make Espresso – No Machine Needed
A single shot of Espresso is called a Solo. Doppio is a double shot, and Ristretto is 3/4 of a shot.
Fun Facts About Espresso
- The brewing process takes just 20 to 30 seconds
- Espresso is a base for coffee variations, like the cappuccino or latte
- Coffee has more caffeine per serving, but espresso is number one per ounce
- Coffee – approx 12 mg per ounce (96 mg per 8-ounce cup)
- Espresso – approx 45-55 mg per ounce
- A single shot is also called a solo, but a ristretto or short is even smaller
- The shorter the pull, the sweeter the brew – a ristretto is sweeter than a lungo, which has more acidity
- The brewing process minimizes tannins and makes for a less acidic beverage
- National Espresso Day in the US is held in late November near Thanksgiving (give some thanks for espresso!)
Frequently Asked Questions
Espresso is a concentrated coffee beverage made by pushing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans with high pressure. It has a strong flavor, thick body, and creamy texture due to the unique brewing process used to make it. The result is a beverage that is richer, stronger, and more flavorful than regular drip-brewed coffee. Its unique taste has made it one of the most popular types of coffee worldwide.
Espresso is made using a custom machine that uses near-boiling water that is forced through finely ground coffee under pressure, creating a much more concentrated beverage than regular drip-brewed coffee.
Espresso or demitasse cups are traditionally quite small because they are meant only for drinking small shots of concentrated liquid (about 1-2 ounces). The smaller size also preserves the heat better.
To make an authentic espresso, you’ll want to use an espresso machine. It’s designed to push the hot water through the fine coffee grounds at a higher pressure to extract the fullest flavor possible from the beans. However, there are excellent alternatives, like the Moka pot for stovetop espresso and Nespresso machines, that come close – as long as you buy the designated espresso pods. the Nespresso even produces a thick, rich crema.