4 Things You Need to Know About Espresso

Preso, presso or expreso – all terrible names for the Italian beverage, Caffè espresso. It originated at the beginning of the 20th century and became the most popular drink in the world. What points must a coffee meet to be marked as espresso? There are actually a lot. Thus, a lot can go wrong.

1. How did the name espresso originate?

Nobody actually knows one hundred percent. It is certain that two words come into play. The first being express, meaning fast, expressive; the second being espimere, which can be translated as ‘to push’. No matter how the word was formulated, this combination accurately describes the beverage, which is also called Caffè, in Italy.

2. What classifies a true espresso?

It is simply 7g of properly ground coffee, through which the water was pressurised by 8-10 bar, at a temperature of roughly 90°C. True espresso runs for about a quarter of a minute and results in exactly 30ml of fluid. These conditions must be met for optimal extraction. The reward is a beverage with a creamy coloured surfaced which is no thicker than two 2 millimetres, but no thinner than 1 millimetre.

The surface of each espresso crema should be the colour of hazelnut.

The surface of each espresso crema should be the colour of hazelnut.

An unwritten rule for a good espresso I a preheated cup (hence why the are often kept on top of the coffee machine). A warm cup ensures that the coffee retains its temperature for longer thus retaining its taste.

However, even fulfilling all of these parameters does not necessarily mean a good coffee. The quality of the coffee, the way it is stored, milling and, of course, the freshness comes into play.

3. Errors when preparing espresso

Nobody is perfect, sometimes even a master barista may mess up. Unsuccessful espresso work may result in a darker colour crème. This tell us we have most likely used to much pressure during filtration. The cause of this may be that the coffee was ground too finely or compacted too much.

The way the coffee compacted has a significant effect on the resultant taste.

The way the coffee compacted has a significant effect on the resultant taste.

Bright crème indicates that a cold cup or non-fresh coffee was used. Another possibility is that the coffee was too coarse (ground too roughly), or it was poorly compacted resulting in the water passing through too quickly. A tasty coffee with pale crème is unattractive. If there is no crème in the cup, the Barista used stale coffee.

Sometimes, burnt coffee can occur because the temperature of the water used is too hot. This is the cause of a bitter taste and an unpleasant aroma.

Weak coffee is served by a barista who allows more than 30ml of water to flow into the cup. This results in a junk americano, which is an espresso with water.

4. Where to go for an espresso?

The situation is improving, but it’s still hold true that to get good quality coffee, you need to go to a really good and proven cafe. By chance, you can sometime enjoy a good coffee in bar or pub, however, this normally happens by accident. If you have the ambition to prepare an espresso at home, a high-quality coffee machine is not enough. Ensuring you use the correct grinder, you have good quality, fresh and well stored coffee is also important. Consider whether it would be better to prepare your home coffee in a French press, or perhaps in moka pot.