What is an espresso?
Espresso is a coffee extract with a pleasant smell, strong flavour and dense nutty foam. It is prepared in a small cup of 25–30 ml. About 7g of freshly ground quality coffee beans are used to brew one serving.
Both its origin and name come from Italy. The word “espresso”, translated literally, means “putting under pressure”, which exactly characterises its method of preparation. Real espresso is brewed under 9 bar of steam pressure that guarantees the full flavour of the beverage. The temperature of the water reaches 90–95 degrees Celsius. Preparation is very fast and doesn’t take longer than 22 seconds.
Growing popularity of espresso
The first espresso machine was made in 1901. Since then, coffee machines have improved a lot. In addition, people long for making an espresso at home by themselves, in the same quality they can get in a café. Fortunately, with the coffee machines currently available on the market it is not a problem.
TIP: Read how to choose the best coffee machine for your home or office.
Step-by-step espresso preparation
1) Automatic coffee machine
Fully automatic coffee machines are the most comfortable choice for your home or office. You just need to fill it with high-quality coffee beans, add water into the tank and then press the relevant button.
To make a high-quality espresso in an automatic coffee machine you need:
- High-quality coffee beans
- A clean coffee machine
For one cup take 7 g of freshly ground coffee. Before switching the machine on, check the coffee for clumps. They could cause the water to flow through unevenly and change the final taste of the beverage. If there are any clumps, break them up with a fork.
2) Lever coffee machine
Gourmets and passionate coffee lovers praise to the heavens a lever coffee machine, thanks to which they can enjoy the whole preparation ritual.
1) Use a proper coffee grinder to grind the best quality beans. 100% Arabica or a blend of Arabica and Robusta are the best choices in this case.
2) Fill the warm and clean portafilter basket with 7g of fresh ground coffee.
3) Using a coffee tamper, press the grinds in the portafilter basket.
4) Empty the water from the brew head.
5) Wipe the drip tray with a cloth.
6) Load the full portafilter into the machine.
7) Let your real espresso pour into a preheated cup of 25–30 ml. It takes about 20–22 seconds. A thin, steady coffee flow should pour into the cup.
TIP: Never let the coffee flow for longer than 22 seconds. Apart from aromatic oily substances, you would extract additional compounds which should not be in a real espresso. It mainly concerns tannins and woody substances that completely change the taste of your coffee.
Other coffee specialities with espresso
Real Italian espresso is the basis for many other coffee specialities. The most popular ones are:
- Cappuccino – it contains 1/3 of espresso, 1/3 of milk and 1/3 of milk foam. Read the recipe for a proper cappuccino with delicious milk foam.
- Americano – as baristas say, it is the only proper variation of a “large espresso”. It is an espresso with added water in the ratio of 1:5.
- Caffé Latte – you can make it from hot milk without foam and an espresso in the ratio of 3:1. Most often 150 ml of milk and 50 ml of espresso.
- Latté Macchiato – it contains 200 ml of hot milk of which good milk froth should form about 1/3. 50 ml of espresso is then poured into the milk mixture.
- Caffé Macchiatto – it is an espresso topped with milk foam.
- Caffé Freddo – a cold espresso with ice and a bit of milk.