what is an espresso

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This is one fundamental question that beginners should ask themselves before embarking on their espresso journeys.

If you’re ready to learn the basics of the espresso, you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s start off with the basics: what is an espresso?

The term “espresso” has been used to describe the coffee occasionally for centuries, but it’s only in recent years that we can attribute it to Giuseppe Angelo Moriondo.

The first espresso machines were invented by Luigi Bezzera and were based on his patented piston mechanism we see today in 1950s and later models.

It was not until 1963, when Giovanni Giacomo Caselli created his original uni-block system, that the modern-day espresso machine was born.

What Is An Espresso?

This Italian coffee word is simply a coffee made using a single extraction in less than 20 seconds and in which the final coffee beverage contains more than 15g of solid coffee.

It’s a shot of intense, powerful caffeine-infused coffee, made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans at pressures high enough for the heat to extract all their flavor.

For beginner baristas or espresso snobs, it can be intimidating knowing what goes into making this potent drink.

Do not fret! I will guide you through this world of shot making with ease and pleasure.

Another definition would be a beverage made from high-quality coffee and extracted under high pressure by an espresso machine.

If we were to go deeper into the definition of what an espresso is, it is a more concentrated version of coffee than regular brewed coffee, which makes it stronger and thicker.

What makes an espresso different from other more commonly known coffee drinks that we usually see on a daily basis?

An espresso is made by finely grinding dark roasted beans into a powder-like consistency and then loading them into a portafilter where they’re tamped until all the air pockets are pushed out.

During this process, the mixture is heated to a temperature high enough to extract bitter flavors in a water-based extraction. It is then ready for serving.

All the bitterness in the coffee is extracted from flavoring agents such as caffeine and caffeine compounds, which are also powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory activity.

These bitter flavorings are usually absorbed in the coffee body, but after imbibing it, you will find that all its bitterness has been removed by the hot coffee experienced inside your mouth.

Flavorings in coffee are also called aromatic compounds, which are responsible for the aroma of coffee.

Espresso vs Coffee?

Want to know the main difference between espresso and coffee?

Espresso is not the same as regular coffee.

Espresso is made by forcing hot water through finely-ground dark roasted beans.

Regular brewed coffee, on the other hand, uses coarsely ground coffee beans.

Moreover, espresso tastes differently from regular brewed coffee because it contains more soluble solids that are extracted under high pressure by an espresso machine.

It has a thicker texture but less acidity due to its lower pH level.

It has a stronger flavor than regular brewed coffee because it’s made with more concentrated solutions of the essence of the bean.

The amount of espresso you drink will determine how much caffeine you absorb into your system.

What Are The Benefits Of Espresso?

It has been shown that caffeine drinkers have better mental performance than non-drinkers.

That’s why coffee lovers take their morning cup with them wherever they go — to work or school or even partying.

Drinking espresso on a daily basis doesn’t only give you a good mood, but it also increases your mental energy and stamina.

In addition, studies show that those who drink coffee regularly have a smaller chance of getting heart disease or some kind of cancer compared to those who don’t drink it at all.

In fact, some studies even show that people already diagnosed with cancer have a better chance of survival if they drink coffee regularly.

Drinking an espresso slows down cancer growth by triggering cancer-destroying enzymes and antioxidants in the body.

It’s not only the caffeine but also the antioxidants found in coffee beans that fight against free radicals in your body.

The brain of the person who drinks espresso every day actually works better than an average brain in general.

When you drink coffee, your body releases hormones that reduce stress and anxiety.

Studies show that people with high blood pressure have an 80 percent reduced risk of further developing high blood pressure after drinking coffee on a daily basis for two weeks.

It’s not just the caffeine in the coffee that makes it good for your health, but also its ingredients.

Theobromine is one of them that are highly effective against heart diseases and cancer, which are two of the most common causes of death in adults around the globe.

Now let’s go down further by exploring the different types of coffee drinks that are made from espresso.

Espresso Based Drinks

Espresso Latte

As a drink, a latte is a mixture of espresso and steamed milk. Some people like to include ice cubes in their latte as well. A latte can also be served on ice since it has less milk than a cappuccino.


The Cappuccino is an Italian coffee drink that is made by combining espresso with steamed milk.Its name literally means “cap” because of the cap on top of the cup, which makes it a creamy drink.

Its taste differs from a latte but somewhat resembles it.

Espresso Mocha

A mocha is comprised of espresso that’s mixed with hot chocolate or coffee flavor. It’s made with half-and-half or whole milk and comes in either small, medium or large sizes.

A mocha usually contains chocolate syrup or powder, which has a substantial amount of fat in it.

Espresso Macchiato

The espresso macchiato is an espresso shot with a dollop of foam on top of it.

Its definition literally means “marked” in Italian, hence the name.

It’s widely used in most American coffee shops like Starbucks or McDonalds because it’s easier to make without having to use different equipment for one cup only.

Espresso Con Panna

A con panna drink is basically an espresso with whipped cream added on top of it. It’s used as an alternative to sugar or vanilla syrups.

Espresso Alla Panna

This is basically an Espresso with whipped cream poured on top of it. It can be used as an alternative to sugar or vanilla syrups when preparing the usual latte or cappuccino drink.

Espresso Caffe Latte

The espresso caffè latte is an Espresso with steamed milk. It’s typically foamy on top to give it a good texture like that of a normal latte.

What Is An Espresso With Milk Called?

So what is an espresso with milk? Is it the same as a latte, mocha or Frappuccino?

Well, these drinks do have some similarities and can be considered as espresso with milk variations.

For instance, a latte and Frappuccino drink also has foam on top of it. You can easily tell them apart by their taste and texture.

A latte usually has cream on top to give it a rich texture while a frappuccino has the flavors of chocolate or vanilla syrup added to give it a creamy consistency.

But they can also be made with milk and syrup as well.

The herbal tea latte is made with plain bottled water and iced brewed herbal tea, which has a light and refreshing taste.

Some of the most popular flavored iced drinks include mango, peach and lychee.

Licorice coffee is an espresso with milk that’s normally used as a beverage for children since it’s low in caffeine content.

In case you want to avoid adding coffee to your drink of choice, go for the chai latte or caffè latte instead.

They both have steamed milk added to them to give it a creamy texture similar to a latte but without the frothy milk.

Chai lattes and caffè lattes can also be made with hot and frothy milk.

What Is An Espresso Lungo?

While we normally say a lungo, don’t blame yourself if you’ve typed in “espresso lungo” to get there.

The word “lungo” literally means long in Italian, so it’s easy to guess what this coffee type is all about.

This coffee is simply a longer version of the usual espresso shot.

It’s usually made to be served in a mug and not in a demi-tasse cup which is normally used for normal espresso shots.

It differs from the macchiato because the latter has steamed milk added to it while an espresso lungo has no milk added to it at all.

This also differs from the demitasse shot because it’s made to be served in a larger cup.

An espresso lungo is usually served with chocolate powder, sugar or caramel syrup.

You can also use cinnamon, almonds, or hazelnuts to make the drink more enjoyable.

An espresso lungo is also perfect for people who want to take their coffee on the go because it’s easy to drink even without using a saucer.

It has a stronger-tasting espresso than the other types of coffee you can find in cafes or restaurants.

What Size Is An Espresso Cup?

Usually, coffee and espresso cups and mugs can be classified into two: demitasse and espresso cups.

The sizes of the cups often depend on the type of drink that you order, so they can differ slightly from each other.

Espresso cups are typically used for espresso shots while cappuccinos and mochas use a large cup instead.

The demitasse is a small coffee cup that’s about 2oz in size on average, so it’s only good enough for one espresso shot.

You can pour your demitasse into a larger cup if you want to add some whipped cream or frothy milk on top of it.

Most coffee bars will have a little demitasse cup set aside for you so you can serve yourself.

An espresso cup is usually 3oz in size, which is enough to prepare a regular-sized shot.

This does not mean that the other sizes are less than that though since sometimes a large size cup can even be used for an espresso lungo.

When it comes to cappuccino and mocha drinks, a medium-sized cup normally holds 3 1/2 oz while a large size cup can hold up to 4 oz of hot chocolate drink.

Final Thoughts

An espresso is simply the regular yet more most flavorful way to prepare coffee.

It’s different from latte and mocha because it has a stronger flavor and contains no milk on top of it.

Making an espresso at home is not impossible if you have some equipment for that purpose.

Read more about the different brewing methods you can use to make your own espresso at home.

If you use a drip coffee machine rather than an espresso machine, it will still taste great because all you have to do is add the coffee beans and water together.

So there’s no need for an espresso machine to be used.

But if you want a more flavorful drink with frothy milk or a different flavor of syrup on top, then an espresso machine would be best for your choices.

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