What is Espresso?
While espresso is getting more and more popular, there are still many coffee drinkers who do not know exactly what it is and why it is in such a high demand these days. There is a common misconception that espresso is merely a stronger form of coffee but actually, it is the method of brewing as opposed to the actual type of coffee. Most espresso lovers prefer this way of brewing simply because of the bold and intense flavors it offers. Espresso is commonly misspelled as expresso or expreso.
Terms Associated with Espresso
Before becoming an espresso expert of any sort, you will need to understand certain terms that are often associated with this form of brewing. Learning more about espresso and certain definitions will help you make important decisions like how to buy a machine to brew your own at home.
- Barista – This Italian term refers to a skilled and highly experienced espresso professional.
- Body – The body often makes reference to the richness, thickness, and overall texture as well as aroma, acidity, flavor, and strength of the espresso.
- Burr Mill – A burr mill is essentially a grinder specially designed for coffee beans. The burr is a blade that is used to shred beans to maximize flavor extraction.
- Crema – This term is also commonly used when referring to espresso and describes the brownish colored foam on the surface of freshly brewed espresso.
- Demitasse – Many espresso drinkers have used a demitasse but are not aware that this term actually refers to the cup most used to serve this type of beverage.
- Froth – A notorious feature of espresso drinks which is made by steaming milk with a device and has an ideal consistency which can be poured, not shaped like foam.
- Hopper – This is a part that is included in every coffee grinder or grind and brew coffee maker. It is the compartment that holds the beans to be grinded and is often preferred by most drinkers to have a large capacity.
- Shot – In terms of espresso, a shot is much different than when in the context of alcohol or other beverages. For this brewing method, a shot typically amounts to about an ounce of highly potent coffee.
- Steaming Wand – This useful tool is the essential item for frothing and steaming milk. Most coffee shop equipment will have commercial-grade machines but many espresso machines for the home are also offering built-in devices for frothing.
- Thermal Block – Commonly found in espresso brewing units, thermal block systems help to keep the water tank hot with internal pipe coils.
Different Varieties of Espresso
If you hope to become more familiar with espresso then it is pertinent that you learn about some of the most popular varieties available today. Especially when shopping for the right espresso machine to use, you will need to know which drinks each model can brew. Here are some of the common favorites available to espresso drinkers:
- Cappuccino – This extremely popular variety of espresso is served with one shot of extra strength coffee then topped with steamy froth and hot milk.
- Café au Lait – A café au lait is made with one part coffee and two parts hot milk. It has a slightly less bold taste than other varieties.
- Latte – This variety is similar to Café au Lait but this particular espresso drink uses a triple dose of hot milk and is topped with steamed froth.
- Americano – Another popular variety of espresso which is commonly called Caffe Americano and is an espresso made with excessive hot water.
- Macchiato – This is a stronger espresso drink compared to other varieties and is made with espresso and “stains” the drink with a tiny amount of frothed
milk. There is another variation of this drink which reciprocates the amount of espresso and milk.
Types of Espresso Machines
Since espresso is so popular these days, buying cup after cup at the café can amount to quite a large sum of money throughout time. In order to save money and also customize your own brew, it is best to invest in an espresso machine that can offer equal or better taste quality. Each type of espresso machine uses unique technology which offers a different benefit in terms of taste.
- Drip – This type of espresso machine brews by allowing hot water to slowly drip and settle around coffee grounds to extract the natural flavors. Most espresso machines used for the home are drip coffee makers. This type of equipment is best for beginners who have never brewed at home before.
- French Press – Also commonly called a plunger pot, a French press is a simple method that involves plunging a mesh accessory into a receptacle that ultimately separates the grounds from the brew itself. This method is often preferred because of the maximum flavor extraction and also requires no electricity. It is also a popular way to brew because it can be used outdoors and offers portability as well.
- Coffee Percolator – This method refers to any brewing process that involves hot water streaming through coffee grounds. Most percolators are elaborate and have great potential to extract bold and potent flavors. Many experienced espresso drinkers will choose this type of machine to brew at home.
- Pump Machine – This type of espresso machine uses a powerful pump to push boiling water through a compartment full of grounds. Equipment that includes pump action usually works faster and does a better job of brewing. Most machines with pump pressure have about 15 to 18 bars of power.
Where to Begin Enjoying Espresso
An easy way to start enjoying espresso is to try each variety and see which suits your preferred taste. Once you are aware of which types you like then you can proceed to find an espresso machine that either brews by pumping, dripping, or pressing.
Once you become more familiar with the varieties of espresso and the equipment used to brew, you can make better decisions about what each offer. Whichever type you prefer to use, brewing your own espresso at home is always a smarter choice because coffee shops charge high prices and assume that coffee drinkers do not know how easy it can be to make.