Last Updated on February 4, 2022 by John Moretti
Espresso is one of the most commonly used terms by all coffee lovers. But have you ever wondered what makes espresso, what it actually means, and how it’s different from traditional coffee? Here are 28 questions about espresso that I’m going to discuss. It’ll answer and clear all your questions and confusions regarding this hot topic.
Maybe you’ll be surprised by some of them. So, let’s get started!
1. What is Espresso?
Whether it’s a pure shot, cappuccino, or latte, many people regularly drink espressos. Some of them don’t know what it precisely is. In simple words, espresso is a strong black coffee created by forcing hot water through coffee beans.
Although it sounds pretty similar to regular coffee, both are different drinks. The brewing time of espresso is significantly faster than regular coffee, and it also requires a lot more pressure.
So, it’s safe to say that espresso is a type of coffee, but not all coffee types are espresso.
2. What Does Espresso Actually Mean?
Grammatically speaking, espresso means “to express,” and it’s the past participle of the Latin word “esprimere.”
The word espresso doesn’t refer to a type of bean. It refers to the unique process used to make espresso coffee that involves faster brewing speed and high pressure.
3. When was Espresso Invented?
Angelo Moriondo invented the very first espresso-type machine back in 1884. Later in 1903, Desiderio Pavoni started an espresso machine selling company after purchasing the patent to the espresso machine.
The technology improved, and espresso became increasingly popular with time. It created a faster way to make coffee on demand for coffee shops around the world. Several coffee chains, especially Starbucks, gained traction during the 1980s and 1990s, and they’re credited with making espresso culture mainstream.
4. What Does Espresso Coffee Taste Like?
Usually, espresso comes with a slightly acidic, bitter, and sweet taste than a traditional drip coffee.
However, the flavor of this incredible drink is much more diverse than many people realize. The taste also depends upon the types of beans and the method used to make espresso.
High-quality beans and the right technique produce a complex and bursting ripe flavor. It offers a lingering finish, smooth consistency, syrupy body, and satisfying sweetness to leave you wanting more.
5. How Do You Pronounce Espresso?
The correct pronunciation of the word espresso is “es-press-oh.” It’s important to note that it’s not pronounced with the letter “x,” and it also doesn’t appear in the spelling.
6. Why Do Some People Pronounce “X” in Espresso?
As mentioned, there is no sound of the letter “x” as it doesn’t appear in the spelling. But still, some people pronounce it “expresso.” It’s a false pronunciation that most probably became common because of the meaning of espresso, which is “to express.”
7. What Coffee Should You Use for Espresso?
Espresso is basically the brewing process which means you can use your desired roast. However, if you want to enjoy the best taste, consider using dark roast or specialized espresso beans.
8. Are the Bean Bags That Label “Espresso” in Stores Actually Expresso?
Sadly no. The pressurized and fast brewing process is the only method to make actual espresso. It doesn’t matter what type of beans you use if you don’t follow the right brewing process.
The beans that you buy from stores with the “espresso” label are specialized roasts that produce incredible taste. But again, you’ll only be able to enjoy it if you follow the pressurized brewing process.
It’s also possible to use beans with an espresso label to make any other type of coffee you want. For example, you can make a simple drip coffee, or you can also go for a French press if desired.
9. What is the Meaning of Double Shot?
Espresso coffee is usually measured in shots that are equal to 1 ounce of liquid. So, the double shot of espresso contains 2 ounces of liquid, and sometimes it’s also called a doppio.
There’s a line of espresso coffees that Starbucks offers called “Doubleshot.” But all the coffees of that line don’t necessarily contain 2 espresso shots.
10. What Does Ristretto Mean?
Ristretto is one of the most renowned ways to serve espresso coffee.
It’s a more concentrated and stronger shot of espresso that many coffee lovers prefer. If you’re not one of those, you can try an Americano, which is less intense. It’s an espresso shot made by mixing hot water.
11. What Does Lungo Mean?
Espresso is all about achieving the perfect balance between flavor, volume, and strength of the coffee. Usually, a single espresso shot or 1 ounce of liquid is made between 20 to 25 seconds.
A lungo is a type of espresso that uses the same amount of coffee but produces 1.5 ounces of product. So, it’s a little weaker than a normal espresso that’ll suit you better if you don’t prefer a stronger taste.
12. What are the Different Components of An Espresso Shot?
There are three different parts of espresso coffee. The first part is the top layer called crema. It tastes sweeter as compared to the rest of the coffee and offers a lighter color. The second part is the largest that sits in the middle.
The third and last part is the heart of espresso coffee that sits at the bottom of the cup. It contains an acidic and bitter flavor and offers a deep brown color.
13. Does Espresso Come with More Caffeine As Compared to Drip Coffee?
The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) reports that one espresso shot contains about 64 milligrams of caffeine. The USDA also says that 8 ounces or one cup of drip coffee contain about 95 milligrams of caffeine.
So, if you compare both drinks “ounce to the ounce,” drip coffee contains way less quantity of caffeine. However, it’s important to note that drip coffee and espresso are not served in the same way. Most coffee shops, including Starbucks, add 1 espresso shot in 8 ounces of beverage.
14. Can You Drink Espresso in the Same Way as You Drink Coffee?
As mentioned, espresso is served and measured by shots or ounces. You can drink espresso by itself if you want. But it won’t be similar to drip coffee that you drink by filling up a big mug.
Doppio or 2 shots of espresso is the most common way to drink espresso. It’s usually served in a demitasse, which is a small cup if you want to drink it by itself.
15. How Workers at Coffee Shop Use Espresso?
Coffee shop workers use espresso in a range of different drinks such as Americanos, cappuccinos, and lattes. They use an espresso machine to quickly make espresso coffee on-demand in order to serve alone or with other beverages.
16. How Do You Order Espresso?
Asking for a doppio is one of the most common ways to order espresso if you want to drink it in a coffee shop.
The barista will offer you a small cup of espresso coffee with 2 shots. Doppio con Panna and doppio macchiato are two other very common espresso coffees that you can offer.
A doppio con Panna contains 2 ounces of espresso but it also contains a dollop or mark of whipped cream. It makes the taste of your espresso less bitter and sweeter.
The doppio macchiato also contains 2 ounces of espresso, but it contains a mark or dollop of foamed milk. Many people confuse doppio macchiato with a caramel macchiato, but both are different. The latter one is similar to a latte.
17. Can You Make Espresso by Using Regular Coffee Beans?
Yes, you can use any type of coffee beans to make espresso. You don’t necessarily need to buy beans that come with an “espresso” label. However, using beans formulated especially for espresso will undoubtedly offer a much better taste.
18. Can You Use Decaffeinated Coffee Beans to Make Espresso?
As you can use any type of beans to make espresso, it’s also possible to use decaf coffee beans.
It’s a great option for people who like to drink decaffeinated espresso coffee. Most coffee shops also offer this type of espresso, and all you need to do is ask while ordering.
19. Are Espresso Beans Edible?
Just like any other type of coffee bean, you can also eat espresso beans if you want. However, the taste of all types of coffee beans is grainy and bitter. That’s why many companies cover their espresso beans in chocolate to offer a better taste.
Technically speaking, such coffee beans aren’t espresso. However, the method companies use to roast these beans makes them ideal for espresso.
20. Do You Get Caffeine by Eating Espresso Beans?
Yes, eating coffee beans also means that you’re consuming caffeine.
The USDA reports that 1 ounce of coffee beans covered in chocolate contains about 227 milligrams of caffeine. It’s a lot more than what you get by drinking 1 ounce or 1 shot of espresso coffee.
21. Is Making Espresso at Home A Good Option?
Making espresso at your home is a great option but pulling it off is not a piece of cake. It requires the willingness to learn new skills, a lot of practice, and, most importantly, patience. But once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to maintain your skills.
Making espresso coffee at your home can be a great option for you if:
- You want to learn the complex method to learn espresso coffee.
- You are motivated and focused enough to learn how to make espresso.
- You have spare time to spend on it as it requires a high level of dedication.
Making espresso coffee at your home won’t be a good option for you if:
- You just want to enjoy an incredible cup of espresso coffee.
- You are too busy to spend time learning new skills with dedication.
- You don’t want to spend money on buying the required equipment to make espresso.
A superb espresso shot, in my opinion, takes more work than a perfect cup of coffee. The difference isn’t huge, but it’s obvious enough to keep most people from spending time learning new skills and investing in specialized equipment.
22. How to Make Espresso at Home?
If you meet all the conditions mentioned above and are confident that making espresso at home is the right option for you, you’ll first need to invest in equipment.
A specialized machine creates the right amount of pressure required to turn beans into espresso. It pushes water through compacted beans at high pressure, and it’s not possible without using the right equipment.
23. What Kind of Machine Should You Buy?
Pump-powered and seam-driven are the two most common types of espresso machines available in the market. I recommend you invest in a pump-powered machine.
24. What is the Difference Between Pump-Powered and Steam-Driven Machines?
As the name implies, a steam-driven espresso machine boils the water and creates steam and pressure. But it can’t generate as much pressure as a pump-powered machine does and creates bitter coffee.
Pump-powered machines come in different sizes and strengths, but they’re way better than steam-driven ones.
Instead of generating steam, power-pumped machines come with a water pump system. It pushes water through coffee from a reservoir and produces consistent and predictable pressure. This mechanism allows it to create espresso coffee with a better taste.
25. How to Use A Pump-Powered Espresso Machine?
Almost all the pump-powered espresso machines feature a capsule or pod where you add finely ground espresso coffee beans. The capsule or pod goes into the brewing chamber, and you also need to add water to the water compartment.
The machine offers multiple brewing functions that it can perform. The available option also depends upon the model of your pump-powered espresso machine.
All you need to do is to choose your preferred option, and that’s about it. It’s important to go through the user manual to understand how each function works.
26. How Do You Know Whether Your Homemade Espresso is Right?
The quality of the top layer is the most important factor that shows how good your homemade espresso is. This creamy brown layer will be fluffy in case of a perfect espresso coffee. If it’s not, then you might need to try again.
When the espresso machine puts 130 pounds of pressure, it extracts the flavor, essence, and oils of the coffee beans. It suspends the gasses and disburses them neatly in order to make fluffy crema.
27. What If You Don’t Get It Right the First Time?
If you are not able to make the perfect espresso coffee, don’t despair. As mentioned earlier, it requires practice and patience. Failing for once certainly doesn’t mean that you’ll never learn. It’s an art, and you’ll need to go through the trial-and-error phase.
Keep experimenting by using different methods and techniques. Use different types of coffee beans and learn about all the functions your espresso machine offers. It can be very tiring, but you’ll be the talk of the town once you understand how to brew the perfect espresso.
28. How to Clean the Espresso Machine?
The cleaning operations and methods vary from machine to machine and model to model.
According to the general rule of thumb, you must never place even the smallest part of the espresso machine in your dishwasher. However, you can do it if it’s specifically mentioned by the manufacturer in the user manual.
Most espresso machine manufacturers advise using a damp cloth to wipe down a different part of the machine. You’ll need to be extra careful while dealing with the steam wand.
That’s because the best way to clean this part is to use a damp cloth when it is very hot, which increases the chances of steam burns.