What is Espresso? | History, Brewing Guide And Benefits!
All you Wanna know about Espresso
Espresso is a type of coffee brewing method in which hot and pressurized water is passed over finely ground coffee grounds.
Espresso is one of the most popular coffee brewing method in the World originated from Italy. I bet every coffee lover on Earth has consumed Espresso one way or other. As many popular milk based or cold coffee drinks like Cappuccino or Latte are prepared by pouring milk or creamers over freshly brewed Espresso shot.
Espresso is the most concentrated coffee drink with a rich and bold taste. As it is highly concentrated, the caffeine content in it is also higher.
As a result of the pressurized brewing process, a thick foamy layer is formed at the top of the Espresso shot called Crema. Crema is a trademark of Espresso and indicates the freshness and the quality of the brew.
Some people love to drink Espresso as it is. Some prefer to have a diluted form of Espresso known as Americano or Lungo. Some prefer to make a milk-based drink out of Espresso, like Cappuccino, Macchiato or Latte.
So, let us go through the history of this delicious and the most famous drink around the World.
History of Espresso
Coffee was a huge business in Europe at the start of the 19th century. There was exploding number of cafes serving this heavenly drink. But at that time, traditional coffee brewing methods took up to15 to 30 minutes. And the customers have to wait for long times to have a cup of coffee.
Seeing opportunity in this situation, many researchers started to try new and faster ways of brewing coffee.
Angelo Moriondo made the first invention of the steam-driven coffee machine. This machine was capable of generating steam at a pressure of 1.5 bars and used both the water and steam to brew coffee in bulk. Angelo Moriondo was the inventor of Espresso type machines, but he was certainly not a good marketer. That’s why his design did not become very popular.
At the start of the 20th century, Luigi Bezzera made several innovations in the existing design of Moriondo and invented the single-serving Espresso machine. Three years later, La Pavoni, a businessman, bought the patents from Bazerra and started marketing it with the name of Espresso machines.
This machine was capable of brewing a shot of Espresso in a matter of seconds; that’s why it became popular. But this popularity remained in the few cities of Italy as this machine had no pressure relief valves, and it was heated on flames, so it was very difficult to control the temperature and pressure. So, the shots brewed from this machine were not very consistent in taste.
This machine was capable of generating pressure of only 2 bars which is way less than today’s standards of 9 bars. The first man to surpass the pressure of 2 bars was Gaggia; he invented the lever-type manual Espresso machine, capable of generating controlled pressure of 9-10 bars. And because of this high brewing pressure, Gaggia’s invention was capable of forming a layer of Crema over the Espresso shot.
In 1948, Ernesto Valente invented the famous semi-automatic Faema E61. The design of this machine was very similar to the Espresso machine, which is in use nowadays. After the invention of Valente, Espresso becomes popular first across Italy and then the whole of Europe.
Whats the difference between Espresso and Coffee?
There are no differences between Espresso and Coffee. In fact, Espresso is a type of coffee. Espresso is popular because of its unique pressurized brewing method and rich and bold taste.
Espresso can be brewed with any type of coffee, whether Arabica or Robusta. Or any kind of coffee roast, whether light or dark. But Arabica coffee beans (Blend of Arabica and Robusta is also quite popular) and medium-dark roasts are preferred to brew a perfect shot of Espresso.
Espresso shot has a much higher caffeine content than a regular brewed coffee. But as Espresso is served in the form of 1 or 2 oz shots, the caffeine content per serving is almost the same as regular coffee.
How to brew a perfect shot of Espresso
For a perfect start of the day, a perfect shot of Espresso is an essential thing.
Brewing a perfect shot of Espresso is not easy; you need quality coffee beans, grind them to perfect size, you must know how to operate the espresso machine properly and indeed you have to follow expert brewing tips, which I am going to share with you.
Step 1) Clean the portafilter
So, the first step to brew an outstanding shot of Espresso is to clean the portafilter with hot water. There should not be any remains of coffee grounds in the portafilter from the previous brew.
Step 2) Grind the coffee beans
If you have a super-automatic Espresso machine, you don’t need to bother; the machine will automatically do this step for you. For everyone else, grind your coffee beans to fine settings.
You can also use pre-ground coffee, but it’s not recommended if you really want fresh flavors.
1:2 is the perfect ratio for brewing Espresso that means 1 gram of coffee for the 2 grams of water. That makes up to 15-16 grams of coffee for single shot and 28-30 grams for double shot espresso.
Step 3) Fill the portafilter
Now fill the portafilter with coffee grounds and level off the surface with your fingers.
4. Tamp the coffee grounds
You have to perform this step very carefully as tamping is the most important step in brewing a perfect shot of Espresso.
Apply the pressure with the help of a tamper on the coffee grounds and make sure that your coffee grounds are perfectly leveled. If they are not, they will ruin your brew.
5. Insert the portafilter in the Espresso machine
Now insert the perfectly tamped coffee grounds into the Espresso machine and start brewing immediately.
6. Note the brew time
Now note the brew time with the help of a stopwatch; if it’s in the range of 18-24 seconds, then congratulations, you have brewed a perfect shot.
If the Espresso comes out too fast before 18 seconds, then you will get a watery taste. The reason for that might be improper dose, improper tamping, or the use of coarser coffee grounds.
If it comes out after 24 seconds, then your Espresso will be foamy with a very taste bitter . The reason for that is also improper dose, improper tamping, or use of wrong grind size i-e extra fine.
Read a guide on Dialing in Espresso machine
7. Drink the shot right away
Don’t let the freshly brewed espresso shot sit for longer periods. Because as time passes, the beautiful caramel-colored layer starts disappearing, and your shot will stale and become more and more bitter with time.
Add milk, sugar, or creamer in it to make a cappuccino or latte
How to drink Espresso
If you want to enjoy the flavors of Espresso truly, then you must know how to drink Espresso. There are three steps to drink Espresso, and they are meant to be followed if you want to enjoy the heavenly flavors of Espresso.
1. Take a sip of water
In many fancy restaurants, they serve sparkling water or simple water with a shot of Espresso. Well, there is a purpose of serving water with Espresso. Taking a sip of water before drinking Espresso makes your palate clean and removes the aftertaste of any food you had eaten before. This lets you enjoy the flavors of Espresso without the interference of any other flavor that might be present in your mouth.
2. Skim or Stir the Crema
The freshly brewed shot of Espresso has a beautiful caramel-colored layer of Crema over it. The taste of this layer is not as good as it looks; it’s very bitter. So, some people recommend skimming off this layer, while some recommend stirring it in the cup.
I prefer to stir the Crema; the reason behind this skimming not only removes the bitterness but also removes many flavorful oils. So, if you like the balanced bitter flavors in the espresso shot, you should stir the Crema. And if you are entirely against bitterness, then skimming this layer will be a better option for you.
3. Sip and Enjoy
Now it’s time to feel the wonderful flavors of Espresso. Finish your shot by taking 1-3 sips and enjoy the aftertaste of Espresso.
Don’t let it sit for very long otherwise the espresso shot will go bad with time.
What are the benefits of Espresso
Apart from being delicious, Espresso also has many health benefits.
1. Boosts your Energy level
It’s the most well-known advantage of Espresso, and most people drink Espresso in the morning because it gives them the energy to work all day long.
Espresso boosts the level of adrenaline in the body; this hormone makes the body more energetic and alert.
So, after drinking, we can perform our tasks with more attention and detail.
2. Helps in Weight loss
This might be the most exciting benefit for health-conscious people.
Espresso is very low in calories, and it boosts metabolic activities in the body. This helps us do a more intense workout, which helps burn the fats.
Espresso is also known as an appetite suppressant. So, drinking Espresso before having a meal reduces the urge to eat more food.
3. Reduces the risk of diabetes
Diabetes is getting more and more common in the World Day by day. But if you are an Espresso drinker, then there is good news; you are at a lower risk of getting affected by the disease.
4. Improve your mood
If you are an Espresso lover, you might have noticed that Espresso makes your mood fresh whenever you are tired.
Dopamine is a hormone released in the brain and makes the mind fresh and energized. According to research, Caffeine molecules bind to dopamine and make them even more effective.
So, Espresso is the best remedy whenever you feel down or depressed.
5. Strengthening long-term memory
Espresso not only helps your brain to be more attentive but also helps to improve long-term memory.
6. Variety of Drinks can Prepared
Espresso buying guide
Espresso Machines are generally every expensive and you have to invest more than 500 dollars if you really want a good machine. There are, however, some good semi-automatic machines that can brew perfect shots for less than $150. Check out the the detailed review of these machines. I must say these are perfect for beginners
Espresso Coffee Beans
Selecting the right coffee beans for brewing Espresso is necessary because, without the right beans, even the best coffee machine in the World wouldn’t pull the perfect Espresso Shots.
Portable Espresso maker
Portable Espresso makers are great way to enjoy Espresso shots while camping or traveling. These hand powered manual machines allows you to brew Espresso without a machine.