What is espresso?
Espresso (ess-PRESS-oh) it's not actually a type of roast or a fancy coffee bean; it's actually a way of preparing the coffee. Espresso is made from finely ground coffee beans –that’s it. It’s basically a concentrated form of coffee served in one-ounce shots.
Espresso is made by forcing pressurized, hot water through the finely ground beans. This method produces a fuller coffee-flavor, in addition to crema on top. What in the world is crema? Crema is creamy foam, similar to what you might get in a pint of beer.
Crema and espresso’s fast extraction method give espresso a fuller flavor, stronger taste and lower caffeine content than regular coffee. The stronger, more concentrated taste makes espresso perfect in many coffee drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos.
How do you drink espresso?
There are many ways to enjoy espresso. However, if you want to drink it like a true Italian, you drink espresso much like you drink wine –cleanse, swirl, and sip.
First, you’re going to want to drink some water to cleanse your palette. Believe it or not, espresso has unique and lingering flavors that you’re going to want to taste.
Next, skim off the crema with your spoon. Although a thick, deeply colored crema means a good shot, it doesn’t always taste the best. Finally, use your spoon or swirl your cup to give your espresso a stir. Take a sip and enjoy.
Although this is the traditional way to drink espresso, there are many other ways that you’re probably more familiar with.
Espresso Macchiato: You can drink your espresso in an Espresso Macchiato. This coffee shop drink includes a single espresso with a touch of stained foam. Macchiato means spotted or stained; the espresso is “stained” with foam.
Cappuccino: Another way to enjoy espresso is in a cappuccino. This type of coffee drink is made in thirds -1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk, and 1/3 foam. The milk should appear smooth and shiny. The milk and foam should be mixed to make a thick, creamy texture.
Café Latte: A latte is probably the most popular way to drink espresso. It is made with 1/3 espresso, 2/3 hot milk, and a very thin layer of foam. Lattes commonly have sugary syrups like vanilla added to them, as well.
Café Mocha: Mochas are no hidden secret. In fact, they’re basically on every coffee shop menu. Mochas are made with 1/3 espresso, 1/6 chocolate, 1/3 milk, and 1/6 foam. Chocolate is the first layer, and then the double espresso shot. Then the steamed milk is added.
Americano: If you’re not into milk, an Americano could be your drink of choice. An Americano is made with a touch of hot fresh water and a double shot pulled long. This gives you a fresh, bold coffee taste, much like brewed coffee (only better).
What is the difference between regular coffee and espresso?
The biggest noticeable difference between regular coffee and espresso is the amount you get in a serving size. A traditional cup of coffee is 8 ounces while a shot of espresso is only 1 ounce. Hence, why a cup of coffee has more caffeine. A cup of coffee averages roughly 130 mg of caffeine while a shot of espresso has about 40 mg.
Now, let’s look at what they have in common. Believe it or not, both coffee and espresso come from the same plant, which produces the same exact beans. And, the beans are also typically roasted the same way.
The biggest difference is how the beans are prepared. With traditional coffee, medium ground coffee beans are placed in a filter while hot water is poured through. You’re left with a fresh pot of coffee that can be enjoyed for hours.
Espresso’s method of preparation is a little different than your average Joe. When espresso is made, the coffee beans are ground much finer. The beans are then pressurized while hot water is shot through.
Is espresso stronger than regular coffee?
Despite what many think, the amount of caffeine is actually greater in a drip cup of coffee. However, it really depends on if you’re comparing the serving size or the concentration amount.
According to Kicking Horse Coffee, a single shot of espresso has an estimated 40 mg per ounce whereas a brewed cup only has around 10 mg in each ounce. By concentration we see espresso having more caffeine. The difference in the serving size is where the confusion occurs. There is technically less caffeine in espresso from a drink perspective.
How do home espresso machines work?
The espresso machine is not like a coffee pot. Which is typically pretty simple. According to How Stuff Works, to force the water through the coffee, the simplest espresso machines use pressure that comes from heating water inside a sealed vessel.
In this type of machine, the coffee is packed into a funnel-shaped piece of metal that has a tube extending to the bottom of the reservoir. A few ounces of water are put into the reservoir and the top is screwed on.
When the water is heated, pressure builds inside the vessel, and the only way for it to escape is up the tube. This forces the hot water through the ground coffee and out of the spouts. Ideally, it should take about 25 seconds for about 1.5 ounces of espresso to come out. Pretty impressive, right?
Espresso machines are also made to steam milk. To steam some milk for something like a latte, you place cold milk under the steam wand. Then, you turn the valve to the steam position. This turns on the heater, which quickly boils the water in the heating vessel and opens the valve, starting the flow of steam out of the nozzle. The steam quickly heats up the milk, and, if you hold the steam nozzle near the top of the milk, it can make froth.
What coffee do you use in an espresso machine?
Espresso is not a special type of coffee bean, or a fancy type of roast. Espresso is simply a way to brew coffee. What this means is, any type of coffee can be brewed as espresso. The only thing to make sure is that the beans are ground finely enough.
What is the best espresso machine?
The best espresso machine is the Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler. This is an expensive espresso machine and really only should be considered by espresso aficionados who will use this on a regular basis.
That being said, you get a lot in return for what you pay for with this one—especially when compared to the $3,000+ competitor semi-automatics that come with less features.
Unlike the other Breville, this one is regularly noted for how easy it is to use; however, some of that may be due to the type of person who would be willing to pay this much for an espresso machine (i.e. the expert).
With auto programmer functionality, advanced monitoring, commercial features, and more, this espresso machine gives users more control over that perfect pull.
Being as this is a semi-automatic with commercial-level performance, you’re going to get great espresso from this machine. Breville usually provides helpful guides along with each of their machines, so you can turn to that if you should run into any problems producing a high-quality shot.
What are some good home espresso machines?
Some other good home espresso machines are the Breville BES870XL Barista Express and the Gaggia RI8762 Anima Prestige Super Automatic.
The Breville is much like the Breville Dual Boiler we mentioned above (only half the cost). At $579, this is actually a really affordable espresso machine for what you get.
Many of the commercial-grade semi-automatic espresso machines we found were well over $1,000, so you should expect that this compromise in price comes with compromises elsewhere (for instance, a steep learning curve, plastic construction in some places, prone to making a mess, etc.)
This machine is for intermediate to expert aficionados who prefer to experiment with settings to get the perfect shot. Once your settings are well aligned, the quality of espresso from this machine will rival, and perhaps even beat, that of most coffee shops.
Part of this is due to the extra features that come with it. A high-quality espresso should always be made with freshly ground beans, so having the integrated grinder is essential for high quality results. The pressure gauge is also noted as one of the more helpful tools on this machine.
As far as super automatic espresso machines go, the Gaggia has a lot going for it. With a ceramic burr grinder, auto frothing, pre-infusion, and a high-quality construction, you’re getting more than you pay for with this.
When compared with the Breville semi-automatic espresso machines, some customers may find themselves not wanting to try this out based solely on price. However, it’s important to remember that this is a super automatic espresso machine, which means less effort is required. This one also happens to be great at preserving energy, so the higher price tag on this is reflective of these additional benefits (and more).
Your ease of use is going to depend on what level of experience you have with Gaggia espresso machines. It seems like those who have used Gaggia in the past do not have any problems at all in setting this up or getting it to produce a good shot. However, it does appear to be a struggle for everyone else.
This machine gives you great espresso. However, because this is a super automatic, it does mean that your shots may have less precision and overall quality than those made with a semi-automatic. But if you favor convenience over having more control over settings, this espresso machine will do you just fine.
Why do espresso machines tend to be so expensive?
Espresso machines do more and last longer than a coffee pot, which is why they cost a lot more. First and foremost, espresso machines are made with much better materials (metals over plastics). They have better electronics (PID temperature control) and multiple boilers (one for hot water and one for steam). Good espresso machines also have quieter and more powerful pumps (rotary vs. vibrating). All this adds cost but gives you the chance for a better coffee experience.
Also keep in mind that "expensive" may be relative. If you are a regular, coffee shop, espresso drinker and drink one almost every day, it may be worth looking at the difference between finance and economics.
Here’s what we mean: let's say you have been buying a latte every day for a year. That’s $4.25 x 365 = $1,551.25 per year. If you decide to buy an espresso machine and make them at home, you’re actually saving money.
A more affordable espresso machine will cost close to $600. You may also need a Burr grinder, which will cost roughly $60. An ounce of coffee beans will cost $.50, while a cup of milk will be about $0.20. That’s $0.70 for the cost of your daily at-home latte. In a year, that’s only $255.
So, depending on your espresso habits, it may be "expensive" to not own an espresso machine.
How do you use an espresso pot?
Step 1: Pour water into the bottom part of your espresso pot. Keep in mind that you don’t want the water to touch the pressure valve.
Step 2: Put the filter on top and scoop the coffee beans in. Be careful not to tap or press the beans down. Also make sure that there are no coffee grinds on the edges of the filter.
Step 3: Screw the top of the pot on tightly.
Step 4: Turn your stove on high (the highest temperature possible). Place your espresso pot on the stove with the pot’s lid closed. Listen carefully for the noise that your pot makes. This is the water boiling and distilling through the coffee grinds and up to the top. When the noise gets loud take the pot off the stove. Now your espresso is ready!
What is the best espresso pot?
The Original Bialetti Moka Express is the best espresso pot. And, it’s made in Italy, which is pretty cool too, right?
Having an in-home espresso maker can be a very expensive investment for those who don’t drink it too often or who aren’t obsessed with exact precision over their shots. For those who simply want an easy way to make espresso (or, as some would argue, just really strong coffee), this espresso pot is a great pick.
You can’t get any better than $46 if you’re looking for a sturdy and trustworthy espresso pot.
Since this is an espresso pot and not a full espresso machine that can precisely heat the water and pour the shot, you’ll need to adjust your expectations a little. While this pot does pour a delicious espresso, it doesn’t produce authentic, thick, bittersweet espresso.