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Espresso - Description of the Italian classic.
David Letterman once, talking about himself and his private life, confessed: "I drink way too much coffee. But if it weren't for coffee, I wouldn't have an identifiable personality anyway". And what a personality, anyone would add, remembering the great and perhaps most famous American television presenter and not only. The TV star who put Hollywood and music stars in trouble, who also had the presidents of the United States in front of him, is a coffee fan. It is assumed that we are talking about American coffee, being a native of Indianapolis, but surely also some espresso coffee has wet his lips.
But let's go in order. Coffee. A single term, a basic aroma common to all, many stories and curiosities. You only need to hear it pronounced to be able to imagine in your mind the ideal scenario. Those who love it at the bar, those who prefer it on the office desk, those who still bask in its scent and flavors in the warmth of their home, comfortably sitting on the sofa or even between the sheets.
An espresso - in Italy un caffè - is a small cup with an aromatic drink that briefly brings the surroundings to a halt for the moment of pleasure. The taste is dreamlike and intense and can't be compared to anything else. Why does it taste so outstanding and what is a perfect espresso? Is it a special bean or the way it is prepared? It is the mixture of everything that makes it so irresistible.
But be careful not to abuse it, otherwise the excitement - or rather the exaggeration - is just around the corner. You know Pikachu in the film Pokemon: Detective Pikachu, played by Ryan Reynolds? He consumed coffee over and over again, and not the long coffee typical of the States, but the real Italian espresso in comfortable, small cups, making his life and that of those around him tremendously hectic and tachycardic. But let's go back to the espresso coffee itself and go back to its origin, onomastics and culture.
Why is it called espresso?
The preparation of espresso became popular in Milan (Italy) around 1900 and from there it began its triumphal march to other countries around the world.
As often happens, large companies and corporations are born from small garages and simple ideas expressed in the shadow of a small house. This is witnessed by the best inventions of Apple, Google, Microsoft. The same principle also applies to espresso coffee. From a small workshop in Via Volta, in Milan, the espresso machine expanded throughout the Italian peninsula to the heart of Europe, from Paris to London, and then it reached the other side of the ocean, whether you look to the West or to the countries of the rising sun. Expressed, like a manifest desire. And it is precisely in this adjective that this delicacy has its roots.
The word espresso is derived from the Italian word espressamente, which means explicitly (for someone). The name comes from the fact that an espresso is a drink prepared freshly for a guest at their request. The second word that is included is pressione, which means pressure. This part of the word indicates that espresso is prepared under pressure. It is often assumed that the word has something to do with express, i.e. fast preparation or similar, this derivation of the name is incorrect.
Therefore the spelling Expresso is also incorrect.
How does coffee roasting take place?
Bean and roast
The beans used are generally a mixture of Robusta and Arabica beans; the typical mixing ratio is 80% Robusta and 20% Arabica beans. This mixture produces the coffee beans espresso. The classic roast for an espresso is dark, which gives the taste a heavy body and roasted aromas. Currently there are also lighter roasts on the market, which have a lighter body and a more fruity aroma, usually with a higher proportion of Arabica beans, which can be up to 100%. The further north the coffee roaster is located in Italy, the more often you will find light roasts and high Arabica bean percentages. The more southern the origin of the espresso beans, the darker they are roasted and the Robusta proportion is usually much higher - up to 100%. Buying coffee online offers the opportunity to obtain a multi-faceted selection of varieties, each with its own stories and tastes. Within our coffee shop website, we offer a wide selection, perfect for every taste and for every method of preparation.
Espresso is served in a pre-heated cup with a capacity of 40 ml. The cup contains 25 - 30 ml of espresso including crema. An espresso is often drunk with sugar and served together with a small glass of water.
The preparation of a coffee is essential, but that's not all. Espresso also deserves a textbook service, an implantation - or perhaps it is the case to coin the term "intaglio". There is not only one way to serve coffee, but the technique varies according to preferences, personal tastes on a purely practical and palatal level up to aesthetic preferences. Generally, it is served in a preheated cup, but there are also those who prefer it in a cold cup, to avoid unpleasant hand burns or for simple taste. Finally, there is also another way to serve coffee instead of in a cup: glass. This is a method that involves the use of small glass cups, usually used for the consumption of spirits, where to pour the simple dose of Italian espresso.
How do you prepare espresso coffee?
There are different ways to prepare it. No matter which method is used to prepare the espresso, a good espresso crema is a must. It is the mark of quality of a good espresso. The crema is dense, golden-brown foam made up of oils, carbon dioxide and proteins. A pressure of at least 9 bar is required for its formation. Due to the nature of the crema, conclusions can be drawn about the roasting freshness of the bean and the extraction process.
Espresso coffee preparation at home
It is possible to prepare a delicious and tasty espresso at home. There are different methods for this, which differ in the purchase price of the required equipment, the optimal grinding degree, as well as the taste of the prepared espresso coffee.
Before the preparation can begin, the right espresso must first be bought in a coffee shop. If coffee is bought online, the choice is manifold. Besides the intensity of the roasting, the cultivation of the beans and the fair prices are also important for the coffee farmers. Here Fairtrade coffee and organic coffee are a possible choice.
If possible, espresso coffee should be ground directly before preparation, so that it retains its aroma. In a fully automatic machine, this step is integrated into the machine. When preparing coffee in a portafilter machine or moka pot, a coffee grinder is required.
Buying espresso is not difficult, but preparing it is very difficult. Is this statement true? NO! Preparing espresso coffee is not witchcraft, but a pleasure and an aromatic experience.
Wanna know how to make the perfect espresso?
Espresso preparation step by step
Here you will learn all the important steps in the preparation of espresso. Especially as a beginner you can confidently skip some of these steps, but as a perfectionist and gourmet you should at least follow them.
Step-by-step instructions for the perfect espresso
1. turn the machine on and give it about 15 minutes to warm up completely
2. now the cup must be warmed up. You can use either hot tap water or hot steam from the machine's steam nozzle. Be careful that the hot water that has accumulated in the cup does not splash out of the cup!
3. then warm up the strainer carrier - if it is not already warm - by starting the machine's pump and allowing a little hot water to run through the empty strainer carrier.
4. now fill the sieve holder with the right amount (for one cup approx. 7 g) of freshly ground coffee powder.
5. press the powder slightly in the filter with a coffee spoon or a "tamper" and clean the corners of the sieve holder from coffee residues. The sieve holder can then be placed in the brewing group of the machine.
6. when the correct amount of espresso is reached (an espresso cup filled to about 2/3), the coffee delivery is stopped. Make sure that the espresso does not exceed the correct extraction time (20 - 30 sec.), otherwise the coffee will become too sour. However, this time may vary slightly depending on the machine and the grinding degree of the beans. Please ensure a brewing temperature of around and at 93°C (+/- 2°C). Boiling water and also temperatures above 96°C dissolve bitter substances from the coffee grounds. And who wants to drink a bitter espresso?
7. now the espresso can be served or the espresso drink can be completed, e.g. with a cappuccino or latte macchiato. More about this under Espresso preparation.
8. remove the filter holder from the brewing unit and empty it, or tap it out to prevent the coffee residues from encrusting the filter. However, please wait about 15 seconds before removing the filter holder to make sure that the pressure in the group has reduced!
9. After thorough cleaning, the filter holder is placed back in the brewing group to keep everything warm for the next cup.
How do you make an espresso with a portafilter?
Sieve carrier machine
With a little practice, a sieve carrier machine can conjure up an espresso like on your last holiday in Italy.
With a sieve carrier machine, among other things, the amount of coffee powder used is important. The decisive question here is how many grams of espresso should be added to the filter holder. About 7 grams of ground espresso coffee are considered a guideline for a simple espresso. The powder is pressed firmly with a so-called tamper. For preparation, the machine should have a pressure of at least 9 bar. This pressure is necessary for the beautiful crema that makes Bella Italia dream. During the brewing process, 25 - 30 ml of espresso should flow into the cup within 25 - 30 seconds.
The preparation process requires some practice and, in contrast to a fully automatic machine or a moka pot, takes a little more time. However, the method of preparation allows for more variation in the taste and intensity of the espresso.
You have a portafilter machine and are looking for the right beans?
Take a look at our roasters ➽ coffee portafilter assortment.
Good espresso in a fully automatic machine?
Fully automatic machine
A fully automatic machine can prepare different types of coffee. It has a system that can grind the coffee beans. Therefore an extra coffee grinder is not necessary with a fully automatic machine. The water in the machine is brought to the required temperature by means of a flow heater. Afterwards a coffee can be brewed. A fully automatic machine presses the freshly ground coffee powder into the machine fully automatically. Pressure is also used during the brewing process. The machines achieve a pressure between 7.5 and 9 bar.
With fully automatic machines, variations, e.g. with milk foam, can also be prepared at the touch of a button. Practice is not necessary to operate a fully automatic machine, as everything works at the push of a button.
You have a fully automatic machine and are looking for the right beans?
Take a look at our ➽ coffee beans for fully automatic machines assortment.
Who does not know it. The espresso from the stove
The stainless steel or aluminium pots are a cost-effective option for making espresso coffee at home. With the help of this jug, espresso can be prepared without a machine. The jug was invented in 1933 by Alfons Bialetti, who gave it the name Moka jug. Today, it is mainly referred to as an espresso maker or espresso pot. The term mocha pot has nothing to do with the preparation form of Turkish or Greek mocha. Hence the spelling with a "k".
The origin of the term dates back to the name of the ancient city of Mokha in Yemen, a port on the Red Sea famous for being the center of international coffee trade, among the largest and most productive, especially for its Arabic quality. For lovers of history and philosophy and for those who require overwhelming proof of what has been said, a clue can also be found in literature. Voltaire, the famous philosopher of the French Enlightenment and inspirer of the founding fathers of the United States of America, in his masterpiece Candido, or optimism speaks of espresso coffee during the story of the protagonist's journey to the Ottoman Empire.
So when we prepare an espresso on the stove of our kitchen, we do not always think that a small cup of coffee contains centuries of history, different ethnicities, philosophies of a world and morality now disappeared. In addition to the unmistakable aroma of the drink. But let's see the preparation procedure, from mechanical gestures to the most meticulous advice.
The water is introduced into the boiler (lower part) until it touches the safety valve. To prepare it, coarsely ground coffee powder is filled into the insert and then not pressed on. The jug can be placed on a hotplate or gas cooker. The water vapour that forms creates pressure that transports the espresso through the riser pipe. However, the pressure of 1.5 bar in these pots is too low for a crema to form.
Therefore, the end product of this form of preparation is often not regarded as espresso, as the characteristic crema is missing. However, there are currently mocha pots on the market that have a crema valve that helps the espresso to get a crema.
The cream is the alchemy between the four fundamental elements that characterize the iconic beverage, namely water, temperature, pressure and coffee itself. It is the light sheet with which the espresso is covered in order to preserve inside all the aromas and warmth that characterize it, a bit like we all do at the dawn of autumn when the first cold weather tends to lick our skin. And its presence in a cup or in a small glass becomes, for many espresso lovers and connoisseurs, a favourite or even a pretentious prerogative.
To create a perfect espresso coffee cream requires attention, dedication and a good dose of knowledge of the sector. You need: fine grinding, the right amount of coffee and ideal pressure on the powder. This is the only way to form that golden patina, that precious and tasty veil that will warm the heart and fill even the coldest and most empty days.
Feel like getting mocha? Take a look at our ➽ mocha pot assortment.
Barista coffee at home
Make espresso like a barista? With the right coffee beans, the knowledge and a few tricks this is possible. Each of the preparation methods has its advantages and disadvantages. The method used depends on personal taste. The preparation methods hardly differ from the actual brewing time. They all take between 25 and 30 seconds.
And so, after just half a minute, you will feel like a young and amateur barista, having a quality coffee, directly inside your kitchen, in front of the stove. The espresso is in fact a painting by Caravaggio, Raffaello or Leonardo inserted in the greatest art of gastronomic preparation: the pride of Italy, that every citizen of the Belpaese has been able to cultivate and sow all over the world. This is the only way to create infinite varieties, endless alternative methods to prepare an espresso coffee blend suitable for every taste, ethnicity and custom.
Long or ristretto, double or corrected, cold or hot macchiato, placed in a preheated or cold cup. And more, in ceramic or glass. Shaken or foamed, shaded with milk and enriched with cocoa powder, even cold or with ice cubes, according to Salento tradition. One could go on for hours and hours listing the variations in which espresso coffee can be prepared.
No matter which method is used to prepare the espresso, it can be used to prepare different drinks by adding other ingredients.
The different espresso preparation methods
An Espresso Cortado is an espresso that is blended 1:1 with hot milk. Hence its name. It comes from Spain and cortado means cut.
This speciality in the preparation of espresso coffee originated in Argentina, before expanding more widely in the Iberian Peninsula where it is consumed purely in the evening. It is also famous in Cuba with the name of "cortadito".
First, pour the espresso into a slightly larger cup. Then just add the same amount of hot milk and enjoy.
It is also interesting to point out the opposite, with the poetic and sensual name of "Làgrima": a small amount of coffee, the tear, plunges into a sea of hot milk, helping to reduce the acidity of the espresso.
A Cafe Americano is an espresso to which hot water is added. Pour the espresso into a slightly larger cup. Then add about three times as much hot water (90-100ml) and stir everything briefly. If you like, you can skim the crema floating on top with a spoon.
And your Cafe Americano is ready.
The Cappuccino is one of the specialties that can be prepared thanks to the oldest espresso in the world, linked to the very spread of coffee in Europe and the religious sphere of the Capuchin friars, from which it takes its name. Legend has it that Friar Marco d'Aviano, sent by the Pope to Austria to convince the Emperor to join forces against the Ottomans' assault, "corrected" the espresso coffee with milk for the first time. In his honor, the drink would be called by the Austrians "Kapuziner", precisely Cappuccino.
First, preheat the cappuccino cup with hot water. Then pour 30ml of freshly brewed espresso into the cup. Pour 60 - 120 ml of frothed milk into the cup. Then stir and enjoy. In addition to espresso, a cappuccino contains equal amounts of milk foam and milk. Since the espresso flows into the cup first, it can separate from the milk foam and gives the coffee speciality its characteristic appearance.
A little reminder: Cappuccino can be described as "coffee with milk", while latte macchiato is more of a "milk with coffee".
For the classic latte macchiato, foam about 100ml of milk in a heat-resistant glass (180-200ml). Then carefully pour a simple espresso into the glass. Your Latte Macchiato is now ready.
A Latte Macchiato (in English "spotted milk"), on the other hand, can be recognized by its three layers: It also consists of an espresso and frothed milk, but is topped up with warm milk. The layers in the glass are created by first pouring the warm milk into the glass, followed by milk foam and the espresso.
Some Tricks from the Barista
✓ The higher the fat content of the milk, the thicker and creamier the foam becomes. The optimum fat content is 3.3 - 4.0 %. The fresher the milk, the better the milk foam. The milk should not come directly from the refrigerator, but should already be at room temperature.
✓ If the milk is between 60 and 70 degrees Celsius, it is best to foam it up and the foam then tastes nice and full-bodied.
✓ If you have a sieve carrier machine or a coffee machine with a steam gland, put milk into a pot so that 2/3 of the pot is free. You should dip the steam lance into the milk at a 45-degree angle. As soon as the milk volume has increased by about 50%, immerse the steam lance deeper and make rolling movements with the jug.
By the way: 100 millilitres of cappuccino has about 47 calories, a latte macchiato with 200 millilitres of whole milk has about 130 calories.
Caffe Latte (Latte coffee)
For a caffe latte you need a cappuccino cup, a simple espresso, hot milk and some milk foam. First you pour the espresso into the cup. Then pour hot milk over it. However, make sure that there is still about one centimetre of space left to the edge. Now add some milk foam on top - and your caffe latte is ready.
With this espresso variation, it is important that you do not confuse it with a caffe latte. Because it is prepared in a similar way. Only here you leave out the hot milk. So you need a simple espresso in an espresso cup and put a small sip of frothed milk on it. And your Caffe Macchiato is ready.
Espresso con Panna
This espresso creation is coffee served with whipped cream. First you brew the espresso to the quantity you want. Then whip the cream until stiff and cover the coffee with a spoonful of it. And your caffe con panna is ready.
Espresso con panna is a classic Italian coffee speciality and counts among the hot drinks. In contrast to the traditional cappuccino, an espresso con panna is prepared with cream instead of milk. It consists of equal parts of espresso lungo and cream. For espresso con panna, a blend of Arabica coffee Robusta coffee in a ratio of 10/90 or 40/60 is used. The coffee is extracted with 6 to 7 g of coffee powder and 50 to 70 ml of water, i.e. prepared as espresso lungo. The coffee is then topped up with the same amount of cold cream (50 to 70 ml) and covered with a cap of lightly whipped cream and served. Optionally, the coffee can also be dusted with cocoa powder.
There are different ways to prepare this wonderful drink. One is the Italian version of Caffe Marocchino and the traditional version of Moroccan coffee.
Italian Caffe marocchino:
Here the hot espresso is poured onto a layer of melted chocolate, which was previously filled into the elongated glass in circular movements along the glass wall. Now pour 2-3 spoons of milk foam on top so that it forms a cap and sprinkle it with plenty of pure cocoa powder.
And your Caffe marocchino is ready.
Traditional Moroccan coffee:
This is an aromatic coffee of the Moroccan type.
A wonderful creation with many spices.
To prepare it, use 2-3 tablespoons of freshly ground espresso beans, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper, 3 ground or finely chopped cloves and ½ teaspoon of grated nutmeg. You can of course add other spices and ingredients such as aniseed, cardamom, fennel, sesame, almonds, walnuts or bay leaves.
Then mix all the spices well and, if necessary, powder them with a mixer.
Now put water, the ground espresso beans and approx. 2 tbsp. of the spice mixture into a pot and let it boil over low heat for 10 minutes.
If necessary, filter the coffee and enjoy it afterwards!
This creation is an espresso with the addition of Italian brandy.
Among the most used liqueurs are grappa, sambuca, aniseed, Brandy, Baileys, Rum and Whiskey.
An espresso glass is best suited for this variation. For two portions you need two parts freshly made espresso and 4cl brandy. First of all, preheat the glasses. Then divide the brandy between the two glasses and pour an espresso into each of them. Sprinkle with some brown sugar and enjoy.
If you have fun trying it, you can also use the following variation: You put only half of the brandy into each of the glasses and pour it over the espresso. Serve the remaining brandy in a separate glass. Now sweeten the espresso with brown sugar and drink it. Pour the remaining sugar in the glass with the remaining brandy, stir briefly and enjoy.
If you enjoy trying other variations, you can also taste it as follows: pour only half of the liqueur into each of the glasses and add the espresso. Serve the remaining liqueur in a separate glass. Now sweeten the espresso with brown sugar and drink it. Pour the remaining brandy into the glass with the sugar base, stir briefly and enjoy.
If no brandy is available, you can also use Grappa, Sambuca or Cognac.
This coffee creation is the perfect coffee drink for the summer.
To prepare it you will need ice cubes, about 50ml espresso and about 250ml cold milk and 1 tbsp sugar. First you put the sugar into the still hot espresso so that it dissolves quickly. Then mix all ingredients well. A cocktail shaker is best suited for this. And your Caffe Freddo is ready.
Another variation of Caffe Freddo is to add ice to sweeten it, instead of the classic sugar, a drizzle of almond milk at the bottom of the glass along with ice cubes. Much loved in the South of Italy, especially in the province of Lecce (so much so that another name of its own is "caffè leccese"), it is an excellent fresh refreshment from the sultry heat of the Italian summer.
To prevent the drink from becoming too watery, you can use coffee ice cubes instead of normal ice cubes. To do this, put espresso mixed with some water in an ice cube bag and let it freeze.
This great coffee creation is also a perfect summer drink.
For this you need a freshly brewed espresso, approx. 150ml milk, 1 tablespoon sugar, ice cubes and some cocoa powder.
First of all, foam up the milk and pour it together with the ice cubes into a glass so that it is filled to ¾. Then add the sugar to the still hot espresso so that it mixes well and now pour it into the frothed milk. At the end sprinkle some cocoa powder on top and serve.
Moka Espresso + Cioccolato
Now we have a creation for those of you who like it sweet.
For the Moka Espresso Cioccolatto you need 1TL cocoa powder, 1TL instant espresso powder, 1TL sugar, some vanilla sugar, 50ml cream and 200ml hot milk.
First mix the cocoa, the espresso and the sugar. Now pour the cream into a heat-resistant glass and add the powder mixture. Then mix everything well. (This works well with a mini mixer or milk frother)
Finally, add the hot milk and stir everything again.
If necessary, top with whipped cream and a little cocoa powder.
And your Moka Espresso Cioccolato is ready.
More about espresso preparations in our coffee knowledge section: Coffee preparation & recipes
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Whether single or double, with sugar or without, with milk foam or hot water, the espresso is small and aromatic and a pleasure every time.
Many specialties that espresso has in common, instant pleasure with an intense or delicate taste, able to conquer and unite all social classes since the dawn of its diffusion, appreciated by the rich and the people, now present in all homes.