What is an Espresso


If you love coffee and want to upgrade from drip type to espresso but don’t know what is an espresso exactly, this will answer your questions. Espresso is a type of coffee, of course, a much stronger one and usually the base of gourmet coffee drinks like cappuccino. Other drinks that use espresso are lattes, caffe Americano, macchiato, and other drinks you can order at coffee shops.

You can make your own espresso at home so it’s good to know first what is an espresso. The most popular thing about espresso, at least to serious coffee enthusiasts is its crema. This will help you understand the details of what is crema.

How is Espresso Different from Brewed Coffee

To understand fully what is an espresso, let us take a look at what makes it different from regular or brewed coffee. If you see the word espresso on coffee bean bags at the grocery, you should know that it’s not really a type of roast. It’s the method of preparing coffee that makes it different. First of all, you would need an espresso machine to make an espresso. Here is a guide on the best espresso machine.

One of the differences between preparing espresso and brewed coffee is that you need much finer grounds for espresso. This is what will make the pressure in coffee extraction taste like espresso. Another thing is that an espresso is served as a type of shot so you only need a small amount of it and you put it in a small glass.

It is really the extraction method that makes espresso different. It involves high pressure and it creates a more intense drink. Espresso also takes a shorter amount of time to brew. Brewing it longer could result in bad taste. These are some of the things you should know about what is an espresso.

What is an Espresso?

So what exactly is an espresso? You now know the difference between a regular coffee and espresso. An espresso is simply a more intense type of coffee that is why it is very suitable for making specialty coffee because it has a stronger taste. You use it as a base for your latte so that even if you put lots of milk, you can still taste the strong coffee in it.

Caffeine Content

A common question that coffee drinkers have about what is an espresso is its caffeine content. Does it have more caffeine than a regular coffee? Not necessarily. Technically, it has less. An average cup of drip type coffee has more caffeine than an espresso shot. But you need to keep the size in mind. Espresso has a higher concentration of caffeine per ounce.

In most cases, people consume only one or two shots of espresso at a time, including in specialty or gourmet drinks so it will still give them less caffeine than the average mug or cup of drip coffee.

Espresso Crema

Crema is simply the creamy top layer of the espresso. You will know that you made a good espresso shot if the crema is present. It also shows the quality of the coffee grounds and the pressure of the water. If coffee is roast fresh, you will get more crema. It’s also an indicator of the strength of the coffee. Darker crema means stronger espresso.

Tools for Making Espresso

Unless you have a fully automatic espresso maker, there are some things you need to have to make an espresso. These are essential in learning what is an espresso. You also need to master the use of these items.

  • Machine

    There are a few variations of espresso machines available and it depends on your experience and expertise. If you want more control over the espresso shot, you are better off with a semiautomatic machine. But if you want to just press a button to have an espresso ready, you can get a fully automatic one. Here is the best semiautomatic espresso machine.

  • Grinder

    As with any coffee drink, good espresso starts with consistent grounds. For brewing espresso, it’s best to choose a burr grinder to finely grind the beans. It also offers a lot of adjustments. Here is the best coffee grinder. Some espresso machines, the automatic ones, come with built-in grinders. This means you only have to press a button for the machine to grind the beans for you and go straight to brewing your espresso.

  • Filter

    Another essential item in what is an espresso is the filter or more appropriately a portafilter. This is where the pressure is applied to the espresso grounds using hot water.

  • Tamper

    You need to tamp your coffee grounds in your filter basket to make a good espresso. This is also important in learning what is an espresso. The grounds you tamp with the tamper are called coffee puck. The way you tamp your grounds will determine if the extraction will be even. Choose a tamper with good quality materials like stainless steel and choose the right size to fit your filter basket.

  • Shot Glass

    This is not for drinking tequila. As we discussed, espresso comes in shots so you need the proper glass to catch the liquid. This will help you keep track of how much espresso you pull.

Now that you know what you need to make a perfect espresso shot, you can come up with gourmet drinks like cappuccino, latte, and others. For those drinks, you would need to steam and froth your milk and here is the best milk frother for your consideration.

Espresso Tips

You now know what is an espresso and you want to perfect your shot. Here are some tips that could differentiate a regular espresso and a great tasting one.

When using a semiautomatic espresso machine, you should be aware of the pressure. You need to use about 30 to 40 pounds of pressure to come up with a good espresso shot. This will prevent the water from opening a whole in your coffee puck.

Pulling your espresso shot should only take about 15 to 20 seconds to pull the water through the grounds. Anything longer than that could affect the taste of your espresso.