Hey, espresso coffee lovers!! Do you love your delicious, bold and robust cuppa? Does it make your mornings a little easier? It sure does for me.
I love my delicious cup of frothy hot coffee. It’s the one thing that delights my senses in the morning. Something I just cannot skip.
And it needs to be perfectly brewed, delicious with the right flavour and aroma- it has to be an Espresso.
A coffee that is bitter, lightly sweet, acidic and tasty. A concentrated form of drink served in small strong shots.
Yes! It is Espresso. Coffee lovers have rightly said, “ All espresso is coffee, but not all coffee is espresso”.
So, what is espresso coffee? How to brew a perfect cup of espresso?
How is it any different from your regular coffee? Keep reading to find out more about this flavourful and robust coffee.
What is an Espresso?
Espresso is a unique coffee, fully flavoured, bitter and aromatic hot drink; made by ‘pressing down’ the coffee granules. It is a strong and concentrated drink with a short brewing time and quite a large load of caffeine content for a kick start.
Espresso’s humble beginnings can be dated back to the 1900s, in an Italian cafe in the ancient city of Milan. Since its advent, espresso has been enjoyed as a drink on its own or as a combination drink for many generations. It has laid the foundation for many delicious beverages such as cappuccino (yummy!), Americano and the famous latte varieties.
Espresso is also used in making desserts such as affogato and cocktails.
Well, how is an Espresso any different from your regular coffee? Why would you want to pay a visit to your local cafe to taste this strong and powerful hot brown liquid?
Because espresso is unique, it is a delight in itself. It is your great cuppa in all its glory served in small cups called ‘demitasse’. When hot water under high pressure penetrates finely ground coffee beans, the result is more potent and richly brewed espresso.
The high pressure generated by an espresso machine causes an intense and quick reaction, forming a thin and delicate layer of creamy foam called Crema. This technique of coffee brewing helps preserve the aromatic coffee oils and gives it a distinctive taste and flavour. An espresso drink is served in shots; a single shot, or a double shot.
Espresso has always been enjoyed by our ancestors in Italy, straight out from the machine without any added sweetness or cream. As years have passed by, espresso has taken the form of different drinks.
Even though being very bitter and a highly concentrated drink with a caffeine load, espresso comes with its package of goodness.
Suggested Health Benefits of Espresso
Did you know that even though it has been said that caffeine is bad for you, a full cup of delicious and perfectly brewed espresso has some potential benefits too? Current research suggests it:
- Improves heart health and prevents heart disease.
- Reduces your risk of dementia and cognitive impairment.
- Boosts long term memory, concentration and mood.
- Protects your liver from the damaging effects of excessive alcohol consumption.
- Is packed with antioxidants.
- Reduces calorie consumption- coffee is well-known to blunt your appetite.
Be cautious, though! Too much of anything could cause more harm than good- says your grandma and it is true. Science also suggests that excessive caffeine consumption can have detrimental effects on your health such as anxiety, insomnia and abdominal irritations. Studies have shown excess caffeine intake has been linked to high blood pressure.
Brewing the perfect espresso might seem like a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be. You can brew espresso in your very own kitchen, every morning or when you need to have a strong coffee, using a simple French press or a modern and express espresso machine.
Spoiler alert: Brewing the perfect cup of espresso without a machine can be challenging but not unattainable. To make that ‘just right’ cup of espresso is an expression of your culinary skills. It is easier if you perfect the skills required at home so that you can enjoy an espresso anytime the craving hits. Give your local cafe a try too, to enjoy a trained barista perfecto espresso.
How to make an Espresso?
The Espresso machines have long been used to make this dark and robust coffee – since 1884 when it was invented by a Turinese gentleman called Angelo Moriondo.
The three critical aspects of a perfect brew depend on the roast, the grind and the pressure needed. If you can learn to master these skills, you are on the way to a perfect start.
The Roasting: Espresso beans need to be darker roasted to get the full-bodied flavour. Deeper roasting makes the beans more porous and enables a more painless extraction of the coffee oils.
The Grind: You cannot enjoy espresso without the right grind. This is so important. Your beans need to be finely grounded to allow the hot water to infuse coffee granules under high pressure.
A coffee grinder gives just the right consistency for your coffee granules. You could try doing this manually but trust me; the results will be different.
Pressure: Espresso is strong coffee brewed in less than 30 seconds under high pressure. Coffee grounds are pressed under intense high pressure (equivalent to nine times atmospheric pressure) to produce a rich, full-bodied coffee with delicious crema dispersed on the top.
It can be pretty hard to replicate this pressure manually, but you can try mimicking the pressurisation process to produce an ‘espresso-style coffee.’
There are three standard ways of brewing an Espresso:
- Aero press (Check out our 5 top AeroPress picks)
- Moka pot (Check out our 5 top Moka pot picks)
- French Press
The kitchen tools you will need are:
- Aero press or Moka pot or French press coffee makers.
- Freshly roasted coffee beans.
- Burr coffee grinder.
An Aeropress is a convenient and powerful tool that has a simplified espresso brewing process. Aeropress makes excellent and perfect coffee in a few simple steps. The total immersion of coffee granules in an aero press machine enables complete extraction of the coffee oils resulting in a coffee delight. Let’s see how to use an Aeropress to make an espresso:
Step 1: Grind two tablespoons of your best quality coffee beans to superfine consistency. Transfer it to your Aeropress. Gently tamp down the coffee grounds to make a coffee cake bed. This tamping is crucial to give that aroma and unique flavour to your drink.
Step 2: Heat 1 cup of water to 91 to 96 degrees Celsius. Then, add about half of this hot water to your machine and give a quick stir.
Step 3: This is the best part.
Wait for 30 seconds after adding water and then plunge the machine. Keep plunging till the coffee beans are fully dispersed and voila! Your perfect espresso is ready to be enjoyed.
An Aeropress has become a much-needed appliance in the coffee lover’s kitchen these days, but it can cost you a couple of hundred dollars, and it needs gentle care and love for optimal functioning.
That’s where the Moka pot comes in handy.
A Moka pot is a handy dandy kettle to brew an espresso-style coffee. It is rightly called the cutting edge of coffee brewing. You can use the Moka pot to brew coffee in three simple steps:
Step 1: Grind two tablespoons of fresh coffee beans. The beans have to be grounded to superfine consistency. Put the coffee grounds into the filter and shake the pot to settle the grounds.
Step 2: Pour hot water into the bottom of the pot. Screw the top lid tightly and place the pot on the stovetop.
Step 3: Now, wait until the coffee expands, and foam rises to the top of the coffee. There, your freshly brewed espresso-style coffee is ready.
Pour a cup and enjoy it hot.
Last but not least comes the French Press. The french press is considered the last resort to make an espresso. But saying that, everyone owns a french press. You can use it to brew an espresso-style latte or cappuccino even when you don’t have a fancy machine.
The main steps involved are:
Step 1: As always, grind two tablespoons of fresh coffee beans to a fine consistency. Add these coffee grounds to the french press.
Step 2: Boil 1 cup of water to just below 95 degrees celsius. Add a little of this water to the coffee ground and stir it. Doing so releases the coffee flavour.
Step 3: Pour the remaining water and close the lid. Let the coffee immerse in the water for 30 seconds. Then, press the plunger slowly with steady pressure till the coffee is made with the crema.
Enjoy your coffee.
Speciality Coffee Association says,” Espresso is a 25-35 ml of beverage prepared from 7-9gms of coffee through which clean hot water between 90.5- 96.1 degrees have been forced through at 9-10 atm of pressure and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brewing takes 25-30 seconds.
Perfect coffee is brewed slowly. It takes time, skill and effort to grind to that perfect consistency, to enable the fusion for the ultimate pleasure. It should not be hurried.
The point to be noted here is the coffee bean profile. Your beans need to be fresh, high quality and ground just before making coffee for the perfect finish.
What are the best coffee beans for an espresso?
Do you get confused by the different varieties of coffee bean packaging? Is there anything such as an espresso blend of roast beans?
The good news here is, that you can use any type of coffee bean to make espresso. Your taste choice differs, the water ratio, coffee ratio, and consistency, all vary. Get adventurous and experiment with different blends and ratios until you satisfy your coffee palette.
In reality, most cafes prefer a unique blend for making delicious espresso. Restaurants have long used ‘espresso dark roast beans’ to make espresso because it just tastes better, it cuts through the creaminess when crafting a cappuccino or latte and it is available way cheaper than single-origin coffee beans.
Then comes the great debate: to use arabica or robusta? Single-origin or coffee blends?
Arabica beans are milder beans filled with more aroma. You may prefer your coffee made with arabica, but it can prove to be an expensive choice. Robusta, on the other end, is less acidic and sweet. Therefore, it forms an ideal bean for your espresso with a rich crema.
Single-origin coffee beans may fit your choice if you prefer undiluted coffee straight from the machine or to enjoy added notes of fruits or flowers to your coffee. Again, I should say from experience; blends can be the best choice for espresso.
An ideal espresso blend would be a combination of arabica and robusta beans blended to achieve that perfect acidity, sweetness, aroma and flavour to your coffee. What matters the most is dark roasted, fresh and finely ground coffee beans.
What is the difference between an espresso and a percolated coffee?
What makes an espresso any different from a percolated coffee. How would you taste the difference or even brew the two coffee?
Espresso coffee differs from a percolated coffee in its make, the consistency and the brewing technique.
Espresso coffee is preferably made using an espresso machine to brew the perfect espresso with the delicious crema, whereas a percolated coffee is brewed using the traditional percolator. A percolator is a simple and old fashioned way of brewing the perfect percolated coffee.
Espresso needs coffee beans that are fresh, packed and grounded to superfine consistency. This is to ensure the packed granules can be pressed by the plunger to brew the coffee in seconds. A percolator needs medium roasted granules for its coffee making. Too fine granules can seep through the filter and end up as sediments in your cup.
The grinding and the quality of your coffee beans make a significant difference to your coffee. But it is the final result that varies a lot. Espresso coffee is a bold and dark concentrated drink served in small shots with a crema topping. A percolated coffee, on the other hand, is more bitter coffee with a longer brewing time (needing some extra care too!).
Everyone loves their coffee in their unique style. You might prefer an espresso for its intense, bold flavours with a shorter brewing time or you might want to enjoy the simplicity of brewing using a percolator taking your time and calling for expertise.
My dear coffee lovers. Have you enjoyed this journey of a simple, yet so delicious and unique coffee with its distinctive flavour – espresso?
Are you among those who love just that ‘one local cafe down the road’, that brews the perfect espresso? Or maybe you haven’t given it a shot yet?
Life is too short to miss an espresso. Celebrate the simple and memorable moments of your journey with this luxurious yet divine indulgence. It’s time to expresso your love for espresso. Enjoy your cuppa.