What is Espresso?

Whether you are a newbie to drinking coffee or an experienced barista used to using all manner of different types of coffee equipment and machinery, everyone has heard the name ‘espresso’ when talking about coffee. What is espresso though? And how do you make it? Here, we’ll take a look at espresso, it’s historical importance and how it continues to be a central part of the coffee scene the world over. You might be starting out on your journey and discovering what type of coffee you like, or you might be opening your own coffee shop and refreshing your skills about all types of coffee. Just remember to pronounce it correctly whatever you do – it is pronounced ‘ess-press-oh’ not expresso!

Espresso is made from the exact same type of beans that you see used in the preparation of regular coffee. The difference comes in the brewing method. There are types of coffee beans that are more receptive to the brewing method that makes espresso and might be favoured by espresso specialists for nuances flavour profiles and a strength of flavour, but put simply, espresso can be made from any type of coffee bean.

Regular drip coffee is made by putting in place the process where hot water is filtered slowly through coffee grounds. A shot of espresso on the other hand, takes a much faster time to make. An espresso machine takes incredibly hot water that has been pressurised and is then forced through small portions of packed coffee grounds. All it takes is 30 seconds, rather than a full batch of coffee taking up to 10 minutes with a regular coffee machine. What you are left with is an amazingly strong, concentrated flavour hit of coffee with a shot of espresso.

What you should be looking for with a shot of espresso is a strong aroma and a complex flavour profile, due to the high pressure that is used to make the shot. The process helps to preserve the natural oils and aromas within the coffee grounds so all the flavour should still be there in depth. You should also be left with a thicker feeling in your mouth than a usual cup of coffee, as well as being mellower in terms of acidity.

On top of espresso machines making the perfect shot for your needs, there is also a desire for many to find the perfect process to add a layer of crema on top. Crema is a layer of foam that sits on top of a shot of espresso and is unique to espresso. There is a certain type of art associated with perfecting the crema that comes with a shot of espresso and it can take some time and dedication by a barista to get this aspect of the drink right.

As the lockdown come in and out of favour the world over and coffee culture returns to our cities, you’ll want to get back out to your favourite coffee spots and have a perfect shot of espresso. You deserve it, it’s been a long year making your own at home! There is nothing quite like that aromatic hit of espresso to get you going for the day ahead.