What is an Espresso?
To those who do not drink coffee, this drink can come as a surprise. First-time coffee drinkers would do well to educate themselves about this drink because literally all coffee drinks are based around an espresso. So what is an espresso?
An espresso is a concentrated form of coffee that is served in a 70ml cup. The drink itself is 30ml for a single shot of coffee and 60ml for a double shot. This drink originated in Italy. It is made from coffee beans and is an intense, strong drink with high caffeine content.
The Oxford English dictionary describes an Espresso (ess-PRESS-oh) as a full-flavoured, concentrated 30-60ml form of coffee that is served in “shots.” It is made by forcing pressurized hot water through very finely ground coffee beans using an espresso machine. The result is a liquid stronger than coffee topped with a “crema”, a brown foam that forms when air bubbles combine with the soluble oils of fine-ground coffee and sits on top of a properly pulled shot of espresso. The crema adds to the rich flavour and lingering aftertaste of espresso. Depending on the roaster, there can be either a sweet taste or an acidic aftertaste based on how the coffee was roasted and what accents of flavour you look out for.
3 Health Benefits of Espresso:
Please be forewarned that the consumption of too much caffeine carries certain health risks. However, as the saying goes- “all things in moderation” – the beverage has several health benefits as well.
Heart Health – There have been a series of studies conducted on caffeine intake and research goes to show that the right amount of caffeine helps improve body functionality. It also acts as a preventative measure against things such as heart disease. People who drink coffee often are 19% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.
Liver Health – Several studies have pointed out that the regular consumption of coffee can reduce the risk of cirrhosis, a disease that affects the liver due to heavy consumption of alcohol.
Brain Health – Drinking this beverage also plays a role in reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Several studies on mental health and caffeine consumption conclude that moderate to regular coffee consumption reduces the risk of cognitive decline.
The beverage is especially loved in its home country of Italy, where it is frequently enjoyed plain, fresh out of the machine. Espresso shots are served in specially made espresso cups, these cups are generally 70ml or 3-4 ounces in weight. The one-ounce shots are a quick and intense pick-me-up and can also be served as a two-ounce double shot. This too can be replaced as a prework out, providing the same results from a natural source.
Some coffee houses only serve double shots, or doppio, to help keep quality consistency. Espresso can also be made lungo, or a “long” shot that uses the same amount of coffee but twice the amount of water. This beverage is consumed throughout the day but is especially popular in the morning or after a meal. Decaf coffee (coffee that has been roasted to the point where all caffeine has escaped the bean) should be considered after a meal in the evening so as not to keep an individual away from precious sleep.
How to Drink Espresso
Though a serving of espresso is called a shot, it is not meant to be swallowed in a single gulp. Instead, espresso is meant to be savoured, sipped slowly so you can take in it’s full, rich flavour. Most enjoy a shot or double shot of espresso as it comes, but sugar or another type of sweetener can be added. It is sometimes served with a sweet biscuit-like biscotti.
This beverage is also used to make a number of popular coffeehouse drinks:
- Caffé Americano: A single shot of espresso merged with hot water.
- Red-eye: Filtered coffee merged with a single shot of espresso.
- Caffé latte: A double shot of espresso topped with steamed milk.
- Cappuccino: A single shot of espresso topped with steamed and frothed milk.
Caffeine Content in Espresso
The espresso is notorious for being a drink that Is high in caffeine, however, this all depends on the quantity of coffee consumed. Since the beverage is served in smaller servings, it can sometimes be consumed twice as fast as other beverages. Double and triple shots of espresso can dramatically increase the amount of caffeine. Drinks like redeyes can bump up the caffeine level significantly.
The single-shot espresso contains 29 to 100 milligrams of caffeine in a single shot, the average benchmarks hovers around 75 milligrams. A double shot can contain from 58 to 185 milligrams of caffeine. By comparison, a cup of filter drip coffee can contain 80 – 200 milligrams of caffeine depending on the variety and brew of the coffee.
Since espresso can be made with any kind of coffee, the acidity will vary depending on the roast. Lighter roasts are more acidic since darker roasts tend to hide the bean’s natural acidity. Many coffeeshop espressos are a darker roast, making espresso slightly less acidic than some brewed coffee.
Buying and Storing
Look for fresh-roasted, whole, high-quality coffee beans for the best results. We recommend purchasing beans from your favourite local coffee shop or speciality grocer. Since espresso really pulls the flavour out of the beans, find a quality bean and roast you like and stay away from cheap supermarket brands. The same goes for ordering an espresso at a coffee shop. Choose an establishment that has well-trained baristas and fresh, top-notch coffee beans.
Store whole beans or ground coffee in a thick, opaque, air-tight container and store in a cool, dark place. Air-tight containers are vital in increasing the lifespan and flavour of the coffee. Avoid placing your coffee in the fridge freezer unless you plan to store the entire bag. Removing the coffee beans from the freezer to use them time and time again introduces moisture to the beans and sucks out their flavour. If your beans came in a thick, re-sealable foil bag with a valve, keep them stored in the original packaging. Aluminium containers with air-tight lids often prove the best in the storage of opened coffee.
Once opened, use coffee beans within a week or two if possible. For best results, grind the beans just before using them. Do not grind the entire bag of coffee and store ground coffee. This will ensure that the flavour escapes the bean and you will end up tasting it in the coffee beverage itself.
More Information – What is an Espresso?
Espresso is made using the same plant as coffee and is grown, processed, and roasted in the same manner. Any origin and roast coffee can be used to make espresso. The difference between coffee and espresso is in the grind and the treatment of the beans. The beans used are ground to a finer consistency than coffee and firmly packed before hot water is forced through using an espresso machine. This results in a shot which can be enjoyed as-is or used to make an extensive list of delicious beverages, including a cappuccino or an Americano. The espresso is considered the ‘base’ of all coffee drinks… it’s not coffee without a shot of espresso!
This beverage has all the same flavours of coffee but amplified—bitter, lightly sweet, acidic, toasty. The exact flavour profile will vary depending on the coffee roast. It has a thicker, creamier texture than instant coffee.
This beverage can be used to make several classic coffee drinks, as well as the dessert drink affogato and cocktails.
- Espresso Macchiato
- Flat White
- Triple Espresso Martini
- Long Black
- Caffe Latte
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