Espresso is perhaps one of the most misunderstood coffees. With the recent addition of Nespresso compatible coffees to our line of products, we have had shall we say...a slight obsession with the subject lately. Today we thought we would share our knowledge on this elusive style of coffee brewing.
Espresso was invented and some say also re-invented by the Italians. We all know that those Italians do eating and drinking right and they nailed it with their version of how coffee should be brewed. To this day, sipping an espresso is part of their daily routine. As it has made its way around the world, it has of course altered a bit but, those who now better keep the tradition living on.
Let's start with what espresso is not.
It is not a particular type of bean. The is perhaps the most common error we see. There are coffees that are labeled espresso, this in and of itself does not make it espresso.
It is not simply a strong coffee. Although you can capture a similar taste by brewing certain coffees with a very low amount of water, you are just mimicking the brew, not making a true espresso. Let me clarify though, there are no coffee snobs in this neck of the woods. Sometimes you got to do what you got to do. We are all about less fuss, less mess, less time. If that means making a strong coffee rather than an espresso if the urge calls, so be it. (I am especially fond of using a Moka Pot and using Dark Magic Keurig K-cups to come extremely close to the real thing).
It is not high in caffeine. Some people seem to believe that a shot of espresso gives you a massive amount of caffeine when in reality it only provides about 50mg (a regular brew provides 100-200mg). Obviously, if you are considering volume, espresso's caffeine content is incredibly concentrated.
So what is espresso?
Espresso is a pressurized brewing process that requires a small amount of hot water to be forced through tightly packed, finely ground coffee. This can be any type of coffee bean, there are light, medium and dark roast espresso varieties. The brewing process allows dissolved solids to pass through into your mug creating a thick liquid with a crema on top.
Ah the infamous (might I say delicious) crema. This is a beautiful layer of coffee oils and aromatics that sits on top of the middle body, this is perhaps the most essential part of a good shot of espresso. The middle is where all the umph is found, the heart of the shot. Finally, there is yet a third layer "the heart" that contains a pleasant bitterness. The magic all happens when you take a sip and all three of these layers combine creating a masterpiece for your taste buds.
Espresso can always be enjoyed on its own or with a dash of milk but, more often it is the basis for almost all coffee house drinks. Cappuccino, Latte, Cafe Au Lait, Mocha, Macchiato, Americano...and many, many more are espresso based coffee's.
Although there is much disagreement about how to brew the espresso "the right way" and certain coffee aficianado's can get quite heated about the subject, we think that the right way is your way. Do you like the taste? Well then don't let anyone make you feel silly or juvenile, it is a simple pleasure, enjoy it!