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What Is Espresso?

What Is Espresso?

Espresso is one of those fancy names you commonly see on the menu when you go to a coffee shop.

But not a lot would dare order this coffee either because they are not familiar with what it’s made of or they have heard about it being too bitter and strong.

If you are looking to expand your coffee palate and try to discover new flavors, you have come to the right place. In this article, we are going to introduce you to one of the coffee classics, the espresso, and its wonders.

We are going to show you that espresso is more than a bitter coffee, as a lot of people would describe it. An espresso can give you a lot of flavors that will make you wonder why you haven’t tried it before.

What is Espresso?

Espresso is most commonly defined as a concentrated coffee drink made by pushing 1 or 2 oz of heated water through a tightly packed finely ground. It is served in small shots.

When you order one, you will be served a cute tiny cup of coffee with some cream on top.

Espresso is made from the same coffee beans as a regular coffee. The main difference between a regular coffee and an espresso is not so much on the coffee beans but particularly in the brewing method.

Espresso machines take pressurized hot water and then force it through tightly packed coffee grounds. After the brewing process, you will get a concentrated coffee with a rich aroma and flavorful taste.

What is an Espresso


Espresso has its origins from Italy. The first espresso machine was invented in 1884 by Angelo Moriondo. In 1901, Luigi Bezerra, a Milanese inventor, made his own patented, improved version that’s close to the espresso machines we have today.

Before, espresso machines were mostly confined and served only in espresso bars in Italy. But during the 1950s to the 1990s, together with the rise of the latte, espresso has also gained traction, particularly in the United States.

Until today, espresso can be found on the menu of a lot of cafés and coffee shops enjoyed by people of all ages.

Espresso and Crema

The crema on top of an espresso shot is one of the distinct characteristics of espresso. Not every single coffee brew can achieve that beautiful crema after the brewing process. But what exactly is the crema?

The crema is the foamy layer that you see on top of your espresso shot. This forms during the brewing process. When the pressurized hot water is forced through the tightly packed coffee ground of espresso, the pressure and the heat cause a reaction when the coffee oils mix with the water.

After brewing and serving the espresso from the machine, the sudden change of pressure from high to low concentration causes the carbon dioxide molecules within the coffee oils to escape and the result of which is the bubbling, foamy crema on top of your espresso shot. If brewed perfectly, the crema should be foamy and thick creating a rich shot of espresso.

Sizes of Espresso

Espresso comes in a lot of different sizes. Among the most well-known espresso shots are the doppio, ristretto, and lungo.


Doppio is simply a double shot of espresso measuring 60 milliliters. It tastes as strong as a single shot of espresso but just differs largely in the volume.


Ristretto is only about half the size of a single shot of espresso but has a strong taste, double that of a regular shot. It is made using the same amount of coffee grounds but only with half the amount of water of a regular shot of espresso. This, therefore, creates a thicker, stronger taste.


Lungo, on the other hand, is the opposite of ristretto. It still uses the same amount of coffee grounds but uses double the amount of water thereby creating a weaker espresso shot.


How does an Espresso taste like?

Probably one of the main reasons why a lot of people refuse to try even a single shot espresso because of the misconception that it tastes strong and too bitter. Although admittedly, a lot of espresso recipes out there are mostly bitter, espresso does not necessarily have to be bitter.

An espresso shot can taste bitter, sweet, chocolatey, or smooth. But because espresso is essentially a full cup of coffee packed in a small one-shot cup, its concentrated flavor can taste too strong for our taste buds. If you take an espresso for the first time, it is natural to notice its intense flavor.

But after several times trying an espresso, that’s when you’ll notice the sweet and smooth flavor of a well-brewed espresso.

If espresso is brewed properly with consistency, it will give you that sweet, rich aroma of a coffee. Its slight bitterness will balance the acidity. You will notice the sweetness of the shot that will impress your taste buds.

Final Thoughts

If you have read this far into the article, certainly you have a more knowledgeable view of what an espresso is. It is more than just a tiny shot of concentrated coffee. It doesn’t necessarily taste bitter. Espresso is a rich, flavorful variant of coffee. 

Espresso can be sweet, smooth, and creamy.  There can be an espresso for everyone! What’s yours? 

So, the next time you stop by your favorite coffee shop, order that espresso shot that has always interested you. Discover new flavors and if you can, you can also try to make your own at home and come up with your kind of espresso.  Enjoy every drop!

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