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Espresso brewing, with a dark reddish-brown foam, called crema or schiuma.

Caffè espresso or espresso (from Italian; sometimes erroneously pronounced or spelled in English expresso[1]) is a concentrated coffee beverage brewed by forcing hot water under pressure through finely ground coffee.

Espresso was developed in Milan, Italy, in the early 20th century, but up until the mid-1940s it was a beverage produced solely with steam pressure. The invention of the spring piston lever machine and its subsequent commercial success changed espresso into the beverage as it is known today. With some espresso machines, espresso can now be produced with 0.82–1.8 MPa (8.2–18 atm; 120–265 PSI) of pressure.

The defining characteristics of espresso include a thicker consistency than drip coffee, a higher amount of dissolved solids than drip coffee per relative volume, and a serving size that is usually measured in shots, which have traditionally been between 25 and 30 ml (around 1 fluid ounce) in size. Many of espresso's chemical components quickly degrade by oxidation[2]. The most distinguishing characteristic is "crema," a reddish-brown foam that floats on the surface and is composed of vegetable oils, proteins and sugars. Crema has elements of both emulsion and foam colloid.

As a result of the high-pressure brewing process, all of the flavors and chemicals in a typical cup of coffee are concentrated. For this reason, espresso lends itself to becoming the base for other drinks, such as lattes, cappuccino, macchiato and mochas.

While there can be significant variation, on a per-volume basis, espresso contains approximately three times the caffeine content of regular brewed coffee (1.700 g/l (50 mg per fluid ounce) of espresso versus 0.50–0.75 g/l (14–22 mg per ounce) for brewed coffee). Compared on the basis of usual serving sizes, a 30 ml (1 fluid ounce) shot of espresso has about half the caffeine of a standard 180 ml (6 fluid ounce) cup of American-style coffee, which varies from 80 to 130 mg.[3]


[edit] Brewing process

A modern espresso machine.
A manual espresso machine
Faema espresso machine, automatic but oldstyle.

Preparation of espresso requires an espresso machine. The act of producing a shot of espresso is termed "pulling" a shot. The term originates from lever espresso machines, which require pulling down a handle attached to a spring-loaded piston, forcing hot water through the coffee at the requisite pressure. To pull a shot of espresso, a metal filter-basket is filled with 7 to 10 grams (¼ to ⅓ ounce) of ground coffee for a single shot or 12 to 18 grams (⅜ to ⅝ ounces) for a double shot. The ground coffee is then usually tamped (with beginners often being advised to use about 180 N (30–40 pounds) of force), evenly, into a firm puck of coffee. The portafilter (or group handle) holds the filter-basket and is locked under the grouphead's diffusion block. When the brew process begins, pressurized water at 85–95 °C (185–203 °F) and approximately 900 kPa (130 psi; 9 bar) is forced into the grouphead and through the ground coffee in the portafilter. Water cooler than the ideal zone causes sourness; hotter than the ideal zone causes bitterness. High-quality espresso machines control the temperature of the brew water within a few degrees of the ideal. The serving temperature of espresso is significantly lower, typically around 60 to 70 °C (140 to 160 °F), owing to the small serving size and the cooling effects of the cup and of the pouring process.

This process produces a rich, almost syrupy beverage by extracting and emulsifying the oils in the ground coffee. An ideal shot of espresso should take between 20 and 30 seconds to arrive, timed from when the brew cycle begins (including any preinfusion stage, during which the puck is soaked in hot water under reduced pressure). Varying the fineness of the grind, the amount of coffee, the amount of pressure used to tamp the grinds, or the pump pressure itself can be used to bring the extraction time into this ideal zone. Most prefer to pull espresso shots directly into a pre-heated demitasse or shot glass, to maintain the ideal temperature of the espresso and preserve all of its crema. Apart from the espresso made manually by a barista, espresso is also made by automatic machines in which the brewing process takes place with an espresso-brewer.

Freshly brewed espresso must be served or mixed into other coffee beverages immediately, or it will begin to degrade due to cooling and oxidation. Temperature and time of consumption are important variables that must be observed to enjoy an ideal espresso; it should be consumed within 2 minutes from when it is served if it is not combined with milk or other liquids for espresso based beverages.

[edit] Espresso roast and blends

A common misconception about espresso is that it is a specific bean or roast level. Any bean, combination of beans from different origins (referred to as a blend), or roasting level can be used to produce authentic espresso. While some major North American chains claim dark roasts as their espresso roasts[citation needed], some of the winning blends used in the World Barista Championship have been what is classified as a medium, "City,” or "Full City" roast, with little or no visible surface oil on the beans.

In the birth country of espresso, roast levels can vary quite a bit. In Southern Italy, a darker roast is often preferred, but the further north one goes in the country, the trend moves towards lighter roasts[4].

For taste quality, two main schools of thought are prevalent in roasting for espresso. The darker style tends to emphasize the roast level itself as a flavor producer, and many professional roasters believe it creates more sweetness and less acidity in the final espresso. Darker roasts tend to feature more body, chocolate, mild bitters and other caramelized flavors that come directly from the higher roasting temperatures and prolonged roasting times. These flavors are historically associated with espresso for many consumers.

The second school, following the lighter roast model, aims to maximize the distinctive flavor characteristics of the particular beans used. Roasters following this style will fine tune their lighter roasts to fully open up and amplify these specific flavors, resulting in espresso blends that feature a wider range of characteristics, including citrus, pectin fruit, floral, herbal and other more delicate aromatics and tastes that in the past were not usually found in a typical espresso shot. Some of these flavors are burned off by higher temperature roasting profiles.

There are still other roasters who take both of these schools and combine them, roasting some beans dark, and some beans light, to create blends that produce the best of both roasting models.

[edit] Baristas

An expert operator of an espresso machine is a "barista,” the Italian word for a bartender. In Italy and other parts of Europe, the barista is considered a career position, often with skills and training passed down from generation to generation. In other parts of the world, the job of the barista has been frequently seen as an employment choice for young people, one to get them started in employment, but is not seen as a career choice.

In North America and other parts of the world, the title of barista has long been in use, especially in Italian-style cafes and coffeehouses, but the use of the term gained mainstream popularity when Starbucks started to call their counter staff by this title[dubious ]. Since the late 1990s, the term barista became synonymous with the person in a cafe who specialized in preparing espresso-based beverages for customers. Along with this came the term "home barista" to distinguish the home espresso enthusiast.

There is a current movement both outside of Europe and in parts of the continent to build pride and professionalism among baristas, encouraging them to consider their work as a serious craft, worthy of the respect granted to other food preparation artisans. In some ways this trend is meant to follow the traditions in places like Italy and France where the barista is considered a respectable career decision. In other ways, this trend is part of what is seen as the "Third Wave" in coffee, where transparency in information sharing is paramount, and the open discussion of ideas, concepts, opinions, and education are shared, even amongst competing businesses in the world of coffee and espresso. The trend is part of the bigger process in specialty coffee to promote coffee as a culinary drink, not as something "regular" or average.

In the United States, the Barista Guild of America was founded to promote the professionalism of baristas. Along with the Barista Guild, the Barista Championships also promote professionalism amongst baristas. The Barista Championships start as a series of regional events in numerous countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Great Britain, Norway, and Sweden, among others. The competition culminates in the annual World Barista Championship.[5]

Responding to high turnover among coffee shop staff and a desire to reduce training costs, most commercial manufacturers are developing or improving lines of fully automatic machines, which allow a minimally-trained employee to create an espresso drink by merely pushing a button. Starbucks has been a notable adopter of these machines.

[edit] Popularity

A drive-through espresso bar near Silicon Valley

Espresso is the main type of coffee in most of southern Europe, notably Italy, France, Portugal, and Spain. It is also popular throughout much of the rest of Europe and in Argentina, Brazil, and Cuba, and many parts of North America. In Australia and New Zealand, espresso accounts for nearly all of the commercial cafe, coffeehouse and restaurant coffee business.

In the United States, Tampa's and Miami's influx of Cuban refugees brought their love of espresso with them although espresso consumption was limited largely to the Cuban community; see cafe con leche. With the rise of coffee chains such as Starbucks, Seattle's Best Coffee, Dunn Bros Coffee, Biggby Coffee, Caribou Coffee, and others, espresso-based drinks rose in popularity in the 1990s in the United States, with the city of Seattle being generally viewed as the fount of the modern interest. In addition to the Italian style of coffee, these chains typically offer variations and innovations by adding syrups, whipped cream, flavour extracts, soy milk, and different spices to their drinks. Cities like San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Chicago have long traditions of espresso drinking, with the North Beach area in San Francisco being perhaps the most well known.

Espresso have become increasingly popular in recent years, in regions where "American Coffee" has been the main coffee for centuries. In northern Europe (Iceland, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark), specialty coffee chains have emerged, selling various sorts of espresso from street corners and high streets. Europeans have embraced espresso as one of their favorite drinks. Many companies now have espresso machines, to be used free of charge by their employees.

Home espresso machines have increased in popularity with the general rise of interest in espresso. Today, a wide range of home espresso equipment can be found in specialist kitchen and appliance stores, online vendors, and department stores.

[edit] Etymology and usage of the term

The origin of the term "espresso" is the subject of considerable debate. Although some Anglo-American dictionaries simply refer to "pressed-out" (rooted in the Latin origin of the word), "espresso,” much like the English word "express," conveys the sense of "just for you" and "quickly," both of which can be related to the method of espresso preparation.

"The words express, expres and espresso each have several meanings in English, French and Italian. The first meaning is to do with the idea of 'expressing' or squeezing the flavour from the coffee using the pressure of the steam. The second meaning is to do with speed, as in a train. Finally there is the notion of doing something 'expressly' for a person... The first Bezzera and Pavoni espresso machines in 1906 took forty-five seconds to make a cup of coffee, one at a time, expressly for you." (Bersten (cited below) p. 99)

In Portugal espresso is called "bica" (in Lisbon) or "cimbalino" (in Porto), or just simply "café" (in full café expresso, Portuguese meaning coffee, which invariably means an espresso in all of Portugal, unless otherwise specifically stated).

Expresso is the form used in France, Spain (expreso), Portugal, and parts of the United States and Canada. It is a valid English word, a variant of espresso.

In an Italian coffee bar, as in much of Europe, ordering "a coffee" (un caffè in Italian), means ordering an espresso. In France, the term café is normally used as well, but the French café is usually dark roasted.[citation needed]

The terms "espresso crema" or "espresso crema effect" are sometimes used as analogue models for material scientific issues. E.g. surfaces of ancient ceramics can erode due to post-depositional processes resulting in a measureable chemical alteration and a physical increase of porosity which leads to an obvious surface brightening of an actual dark material[6].

[edit] Variations

A basic cup of espresso.
  • Affogato (It. "drowned"): Espresso served over gelato. Traditionally vanilla is used, but some coffeehouses or customers use any flavor.
  • Americano (It. "American"): Espresso and hot water, classically using equal parts each, with the water added to the espresso. Americano was created by American G.I.s during World War I who added hot water to dilute the strong taste of the traditional espresso.[7] Similar to a long black.
  • Black eye: A cup of drip coffee with two shots of espresso in it. (alternately a red-eye or Canadiano)
  • Bombón (Sp. "confection"): Espresso served with condensed milk. Served in Canary Islands.
  • Breve (It. "short"): Espresso with half-and-half.
  • Carajillo: (Sp. "Little kid"): Espresso with a shot of brandy, breakfast favorite in Spain for construction workers during winter.
  • Cappuccino: Traditionally, one-third espresso, one-third steamed milk, and one-third microfoam. Often in the United States, the cappuccino is made as a cafè latte with much more foam, which is less espresso than the traditional definition would require. Sometimes topped (upon request) with a light dusting of cocoa powder.
  • Corretto (It. "corrected"): coffee with a shot of liquor, usually grappa or brandy. "Corretto" is also the common Italian word for "spiked (with liquor)".
  • Con hielo (Sp. "with ice"): Espresso with sugar immediately poured over two ice cubes, preferred in Madrid during Summer.
  • Cortado (Sp./Port. "cut"): Espresso "cut" with a small amount of warm milk.
  • Cubano (Sp. "Cuban"): Sugar is added to the collection container before brewing for a sweet flavor, different than that if the sugar is added after brewing. Sugar can also be whipped into a small amount of espresso after brewing and then mixed with the rest of the shot. Sometimes called "Cafe tinto".
  • Doppio: (It. "Double") Double (2 fluid ounces) shot of espresso.
  • Espresso con Panna (It. "espresso with cream"): Espresso with whipped cream on top.
  • Flat white: a coffee drink made of one-third espresso and two thirds steamed milk with little or no foam. (Very similar to "latte", see entry for lattes below)
  • Iced coffee: Generally refers to coffee brewed beforehand, chilled, and served over ice. In Australia, Iced Coffee generally refers to Espresso chilled over ice and then mixed with milk and ice Cream, with some chains using Gelato in place of Ice Cream. In Italy, the Iced Coffee (Caffe Freddo) is pre-sweetened and served ice-cold, but never with ice. In the United States, instead, Iced Coffee is brewed on the spot and poured over ice. In Japan iced coffee is generally served only in summer.
  • Latte (It. "milk"): This term is an abbreviation of "caffellatte" (or "caffè e latte"), coffee with milk. An espresso based drink with a volume of steamed milk, served with either a thin layer of foam or none at all, depending on the shop or customer's preference.[citation needed]
  • Latte macchiato (It. "stained milk"): Essentially an inverted cafè latte, with the espresso poured on top of the milk. The latte macchiato is to be differentiated from the caffè macchiato (described below). In Spain, known as "Manchada" Spanish for stained (milk).
  • Long Black: Similar to an Americano, but with the order reversed - espresso added to hot water.
  • Lungo (It. "long"): More water (about 1.5x volume) is let through the ground coffee, yielding a weaker taste (40 ml). Also known as an allongé in French.
  • Caffè Macchiato (It. "stained"): A small amount of milk or, sometimes, its foam is spooned onto the espresso. In Italy it further differentiates between caffè macchiato caldo (warm) and caffè macchiato freddo (cold), depending on the temperature of the milk being added; the cold version is gaining in popularity as some people are not able to stand the rather hot temperature of caffè macchiato caldo and therefore have to wait one or two minutes before being able to consume this version of the drink. The caffè macchiato is to be differentiated from the latte macchiato (described above). In France, known as a "Noisette".
  • Mocha: Normally, a latte blended with chocolate. This is not to be confused with the region of Yemen or the coffee associated with that region (which is often seen as 1/2 of the blend "mocha java").
  • Red eye: A cup of drip coffee with one shot of espresso in it.
  • Ristretto (It. "restricted") or Espresso Corto (It. "short"): with less water, yielding a stronger taste (10–20 ml). Café serré or Café court in French.
  • Solo (It. "single") Single (1 fluid ounce) shot of espresso.
  • Wiener Melange (German: "Viennese blend") coffee with milk and is similar to a Cappuccino but usually made with milder coffee (e.g. mocha), preferably caramelised.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ entry of expresso; Merriam Webster
  2. ^ Espresso: The Science of Quality (2nd Edition); Andrea Illy, Rinantonio Viani; 2005
  3. ^ How much caffeine is in your daily habit? -
  4. ^ The Book of Coffee, Francesco Illy, Ricardo Illy, 1992
  5. ^ Welcome to World Barista Championship's Official Site
  6. ^ Tschegg, C., Ntaflos, Th., Hein, I., 2008, Journal of Archaeological Science
  7. ^ From Bean to Brew, National Coffee Board. Accessed January 13, 2009.

[edit] Further reading

[edit] External links

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