What is an espresso?

If you are new to coffee, you may be wondering what is an espresso? You see it on bags of coffee, on the menu at coffee shops and wonder what is this drink that is served in such a tiny cup.

Espresso is a concentrated shot of coffee, brewed by pushing hot water (90-96 degrees celsius) through a puck of finely ground, compacted coffee, under high pressure (9 bar) and served in a demitasse cup with a creamy head of crema. It is typically around 30ml for a single shot or 50-60ml for a double.

The coffee should typically have a thick body and smooth texture, a head of crema and an intense, complex flavour.

Any coffee can be used to brew an espresso, but certain origins and blends may lend themselves better to espresso. Any flavours in the bean will be concentrated and that can make certain that would be wonderful as a drip coffee become unpleasant when brewed as an espresso.

A darker roasted coffee will create a less acidic, more smokey flavoured espresso while a lighter roasted coffee will usually be more acidic and retain more of it’s unique flavours.

While espresso contains more caffeine per ml than most other coffee drinks, due to the small size it usually contains less caffeine than other coffee drinks. An average shot of espresso will contain 120-170mg of caffeine, whereas a typical serving of drip brewed coffee will contain 150-200mg.

A shot of espresso will take approximately 30 seconds to brew depending on espresso recipe and whether it is a single or double shot.

To brew a shot of espresso you need:
An espresso machine
Some coffee beans
A coffee grinder
A coffee tamper
A cup
Optionally you can also get a scale and a timer to really dial in your brews.

To find out more on how to use all of the above equipment, click here.

The resulting product can then be drunk as it is. It could also be combined with hot water to create an americano or steamed/foamed milk to create cappuccinos or lattes.

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