Everything You Need to Know About Espresso
If you’ve ever tried to order an espresso drink and ended up feeling like an imposter, you’re not alone. Even devout coffee aficionados can get the details wrong. In fact, many don’t know that espresso means “express” in Italian. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about espresso.
What is Espresso?
Espresso is a coffee drink and a brewing method, but it is not a coffee bean. Certain beans lend themselves well to espresso blends, but theoretically, any type of bean or roast can be used to make a shot of espresso.
To make espresso, nearly boiling water has to shoot through finely ground coffee beans at an extremely high pressure. For comparison, “regular” drip coffee relies on gravity to move water through the coffee grounds, a process that usually takes approximately 5 minutes. The speedy process of pulling a shot of espresso, on the other hand, takes less than 30 seconds.
Espresso Serving Sizes
The serving size of an espresso is small, no more than 1 to 2 ounces. The resulting beverage is a robust, highly concentrated shot of coffee with a layer of bubbly foam on top. This foam is known as crema, and it can reveal a lot about the quality of your espresso shot.
The Science Behind Espresso
When water shoots through the coffee beans at a high pressure, it dissolves carbon dioxide at a higher than usual rate. When that coffee returns to its standing pressure, the gas has to be released. The foam you see at the top is the result of chemicals in the coffee reacting to the escaping gas bubbles, forming crema. If there is a good layer of crema on top of the silky espresso, the beans used to create the espresso were likely fresh. If there is little crema, the beans were probably old.
Finding Good Espresso
Espresso sometimes has a reputation for being bitter, but this isn’t accurate. Espresso can be bitter. If a coffee shop doesn’t understand the art of making espresso, it may use old, unwanted coffee beans to make its espresso blend. Bad beans and a bad grind lead to bad coffee every time. A good shot of espresso can taste spicy, fruity, chocolaty, and more. Remember, the flavor will be intense. You’re packing a lot of coffee into just a few ounces!
Many people assume that espresso is more highly caffeinated than other brews of coffee. This is true, in a sense. However, espresso is usually only consumed in smalls servings of 1 to 2 ounces. It can be misleading to say that espresso is more highly caffeinated than drip coffee because of this discrepancy in serving size.
The highly concentrated flavor and thicker consistency of espresso make it a perfect base for many other coffee drinks. Beloved classics like lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and Americanos all begin with a shot or two of espresso.
- Espresso: A one-ounce shot of espresso
- Cappuccino: Equal parts espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam
- Latte: A shot of espresso, 6-8 ounces of milk, and a thin layer of milk foam
- Macchiato: A shot of espresso with a bit of milk foam
- Americano: A double shot of espresso topped with hot water
- Café Mocha: A layer of cocoa and two shots of espresso topped with milk and milk foam
- Flat White: A shot of espresso topped with microfoam
There are many possibilities in the world of espresso. Additionally, there are many foods that taste delicious with a cup of espresso such as bread, dried fruit cake, lemon cakes, and chocolate custards. Chat with us at Caffe Strega to learn about our coffee, pastries and lunch options. We have plenty of tasty dessert options that taste delicious with our espresso.