What is Espresso?

By DeathWishCoffee — / Coffee Talk

What is Espresso and How is it Made?

Espresso (ess-PRESS-oh) is coffee brewed by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans. Espresso is generally thicker than coffee brewed by other methods, has a higher concentration of suspended and dissolved solids, and has crema on top (a foam with a creamy consistency).

A clear shot glass being filled with espresso from an espresso machine.

What's the Difference Between Espresso and Coffee?

Espresso is made using the exact same plant as coffee and is roasted the same way. You can use the coffee roast of your choice to make espresso. The main difference between coffee and espresso is in the grind of the beans. For espresso, you typically grind the beans to a finer consistency and firmly packed before hot water is forced through using an espresso machine.

As a result of the pressurized brewing process, the flavors and chemicals in a typical shot of espresso are very concentrated. It has all the same flavors as your typical cup of joe but amped up and topped with a brown foam that forms from a properly pulled shot of espresso. That brown foam is called crema and leaves a rich lingering espresso flavor in your mouth.

How Do You Drink Espresso? 

Espresso is served in the form of “shots” since it has a higher caffeine content than brewed coffee. These shots are not to be mistaken with the shots you take at a bar. Instead, espresso is meant to be sipped slowly so you can full indulge in the rich flavor.

If a shot of espresso isn’t for you, you can find it used as the base for several popular drinks at your local coffee shop. What drinks use espresso?

  • Cappuccino: A single shot of espresso topped with steamed and forthed milk.
  • Café Latte: A double shot of espresso topped with steamed milk.
  • Café Americano: A shot of espresso combined with hot water.
  • Red-Eye: Filtered coffee combined with one shot of espresso.

How Much Caffeine is in Espresso?

While espresso often has the reputation of being high in caffeine—it really comes down to how much you drink. Espresso has more caffeine per unit volume than most coffee beverages, but because the usual serving size is much smaller, the total caffeine content is less. Of course, the actual caffeine content of any coffee drink varies by size, bean origin, roast method and other factors.

A bag of the whole bean medium roast next to a bronze coffee canister.

How to Choose the Right Coffee for Espresso?

Since espresso really pulls the flavor our of the beans, it’s important you choose a premium coffee brand that has no artificial ingredients and is sustainably sourced. Fortunately, Death Wish Coffee checks off all those boxes and can be ground to an espresso grind and used in an espresso machine. This brings out many wonderful dark cherry, mocha, and almond flavors that you may not taste when brewing with conventional methods. 

How to Properly Store Your Coffee?

Besides picking the right beans, aka the World’s Strongest Coffee, knowing how to properly store those highly caffeinated beans is a key factor in making that perfect cup or espresso shot. Air, moisture and heat strong impact the freshness of your coffee—and ultimately, the taste.

To preserve the freshness of your beans for as long as possible you’ll have to ward off those demons by storing them in an opaque, air-tight canister at room temperature…kind of like a coffin. For the best cup of coffee or shot of espresso, make sure those premium beans remain in a cool, dark and dry environment.

RELATED: How to Best Store Your Coffee   

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