What is Espresso?

Running the business of Espressopedia I receive many questions about coffee, coffee machines (recommendations and maintaining), coffee recipes, remedies, you name it. So I thought lets strip it back to basics and create a series of blogs, starting with:

What is Espresso?

The coffee beans for making espresso are typically of the Arabica Coffee bean varietal with some espresso blends adding in some Robusta coffee beans to impart specific qualities. Robusta beans thrive in espresso blends because they contain roughly twice the caffeine of Arabica beans, and create a better crema.

Usually espresso coffee beans are given a Dark Roast though a lighter roast is perfectly acceptable.

What really defines an espresso is how it is brewed, and therefore the grind. The grind size for espresso is very fine with the goal of producing a very intense and concentrated coffee drink.

The espresso machine provides pressurised extraction when it forces hot water under very high pressure through a compressed bed of roasted, ground coffee in our coffee pods.

What is an Espresso – Brewing the Espresso Shot

A classic espresso is comprised of a single shot which has a volume of around 50 millilitres, with a double shot being twice this amount. An espresso is traditionally served in a demitasse which should be pre-heated before pulling the espresso shot.

Characteristics of Espresso – What is Espresso

When you have a properly pulled shot of espresso you will notice that it is very flavourful and quite strong with a thick consistency and robust taste due to the high concentration of coffee flavouring materials.

Proper pulling of the espresso includes using a proper brewing temperature and pressure that is created by the espresso machine. This forces hot water through tamped coffee grounds.

What Is the Crema Atop the Espresso?

Sitting on top of the espresso shot in a very thin and fine layer is a layer of emulsified oils containing sugars and proteins. This is the crema and it contains the sweetness of the shot as well as preserving the intensity of the espresso shot.

The espresso shot’s crema is created due to air and carbon dioxide and other gases that are injected into the liquid at extremely high pressure. An excellent crema is golden-brown in colour and possesses the best tastes and aromatic qualities.

The Three Components of a Shot of Espresso

There are three main parts to a shot of espresso and these are the heart, body, and crema. The heart is at the bottom while the body is in the middle and the crema floats gracefully on top.

The heart should be deep brown and holds the shot’s bitterness providing a nice balance to the sweetness of the aroma expressed by the crema. The colour of the body should be caramel brown.

Drinking Espresso

Espresso should be enjoyed at your leisure. Some people say that consuming it immediately after brewing is ideal, however as a shot of espresso sits, its flavour changes and different qualities of it become stronger or weaker.

Then drink your espresso at the peak of its freshness and with a great sense of ceremony all in one gulp, this is known as drinking it “solo” and gains the maximum appreciation of the subtle nuances and fine aromas and flavours..

When comparing espressos, consistency is key more than anything. That is why pods are so popular as they maintain the freshness of the perfectly ground coffee in a convenient ready to use portion.

Michele the owner of Italian Coffee for Espresso Lovers, scours the world for the best beans constantly researching and refining the products that we can bring to you, here at Espressopedia.