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

Caffè espresso, or just espresso is a concentrated coffee beverage brewed by forcing hot water under pressure through finely ground coffee. In contrast to other coffee brewing methods, espresso often has a thicker consistency, a higher concentration of dissolved solids, and crema. As a result of the pressurized brewing process, all of the flavors and chemicals in a typical cup of coffee are very concentrated. For this reason, espresso is the base for other drinks, such as lattes, cappuccino, macchiato and mochas.

The first espresso machines were introduced at the beginning of the 20th Century, with the first patent being filed by Luigi Bezzera of Milan, Italy, in 1901. Up until the mid-1940s, when the piston lever espresso machine was introduced, it was produced solely with steam pressure.

While espresso has more caffeine per unit volume of most beverages, 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 drip brewed coffee, which varies from 80 to 130 mg.[1]


Brewing process

A modern espresso machine.
A manual espresso machine

Preparation of espresso requires an espresso machine. The act of producing a shot of espresso is often termed "pulling" a shot, originating from lever espresso machines which require pulling down a handle attached to a spring-loaded piston, forcing hot water through the coffee at high pressure. Today, however, it is more common for the pressure to be generated by steam or a pump.

This process produces an almost syrupy beverage by extracting and emulsifying the oils in the ground coffee.

Espresso roast

Espresso is not a specific bean or roast level; it is a method of making coffee. Any bean or roasting level can be used to produce authentic espresso.

In Italy, the birth country of espresso, roast levels can vary quite a bit. In Southern Italy, a darker roast is often preferred, but the farther north one goes in the country, the trend moves towards lighter roasts.[2]


An expert operator of an espresso machine is a barista, the Italian word for a bartender.


Espresso is the main type of coffee in many parts of the world, though this is a recent phenomenon.

With the rise of various coffee chains in the 1990s, espresso-based drinks rose in popularity in the United States, with the city of Seattle viewed as one of the origins of modern interest. In addition to the Italian style of coffee, coffee chains typically offer many variations by adding syrups, whipped cream, flavour extracts, soy milk, and various spices to their drinks.

Espresso has become increasingly popular in recent years, in regions where coffee has traditionally been prepared in other ways. In Northern Europe, specialty coffee chains have emerged, selling various sorts of espresso from street corners and high streets.

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 kitchen and appliance stores, online vendors, and department stores.


The popularity of espresso developed in various ways; a detailed discussion of the spread of espresso is given in (Morris 2007), which is a source of various statements below.

In Italy, the rise of espresso consumption was associated with urbanization, espresso bars providing a place for socialization. Further, coffee prices were controlled by local authorities, provided that the coffee was consumed standing up, encouraging the "stand at a bar" culture.

In the Anglosphere, espresso became popular particularly in the form of cappuccino, due to the tradition of drinking coffee with milk and the exotic appeal of the foam; in the United States this was more often in the form of lattes, particularly with flavored syrups added. The latte is claimed to have been invented in the 1950s by Italian American Lino Meiorin of Caffe Mediterraneum in Berkeley, California, as a long cappuccino, and was then popularized in Seattle,[3] and then nationally and internationally by Seattle-based Starbucks in the late 1980s and 1990s.

In the United Kingdom, espresso grew in popularity among youth in the 1950s, who felt more welcome in the coffee shops than in public houses (pubs).

In Australia, espresso consumption grew in popularity due to the ban on serving alcohol after 6 pm.

Espresso was initially popular particularly within the Italian diaspora, growing in popularity with tourism to Italy exposing others to espresso, as developed by Eiscafès established by Italians in Germany.

Initially expatriate Italian espresso bars were downmarket venues, serving the working class Italian diaspora – and thus providing appeal to the alternative subculture / counterculture; this can still be seen in the United States in Italian American neighborhood such as Boston's North End, New York's Little Italy, and San Francisco's North Beach. As specialty coffee developed in the 1980s (following earlier developments in the 1970s and even 1960s), an indigenous artisanal coffee culture developed, with espresso instead positioned as an upmarket drink.

Today coffee culture commentators distinguish large chain, midmarket coffee as "Second Wave Coffee", and upmarket, artisanal coffee as Third Wave Coffee.

In Northern Europe (particularly Scandinavia) and to a greater extent in most of Central Europe, espresso is associated with European identity, as in New Europe. By contrast, in Hungary, espresso is associated with pre-Communist cafe culture.

In the Middle East and Southern and Southeast Asia, coffee is associated with Western culture, in contrast to more traditional tea culture, and is often drunk chilled, due to the heat.

Currently in Britain espresso is uniformly popular across all pre-retirement age groups, but is unevenly popular across class lines, being primarily associated with educated professionals.

Café vs. home

A distinctive feature of espresso as opposed to other coffee is espresso's association with cafés, due both to the equipment and skill required, and thus espresso has been primarily a social experience.

Initially espresso machines were not available for home use (1948–1970s), domestic machines only developing in the 1970s, and remaining expensive, bulky, and requiring skill to operate. In recent years the development of easy-to-use home espresso makers based on coffee pods has increased the quantity of espresso consumed at home, though top-quality espresso continues to require expensive equipment and skill, and remains primarily associated with cafés or the enthusiast community.

Etymology and usage of the term

The origin of the term "espresso" is the subject of considerable debate.[citation needed] Although some Anglo-American dictionaries simply refer to "pressed-out",[4] "espresso," much like the English word "express," also 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) -

Many Latin based countries, such as France, Spain, and Portugal, use the expresso form.[citation needed] In the United States and Canada, both espresso and expresso are used.[5] Italy uses the term espresso, substituting most x letters in Latin root words with s; x is not considered part of the standard Italian alphabet.

Modern espresso, using hot water under pressure, as pioneered by Gaggia in the 1940s, was originally called "crema caffè", in English "cream coffee", as can be seen on old Gaggia machines, due to the crema.[6] This term is no longer used, though "crema caffè" and variants ("caffè crema", "café crema") find occasional use in branding.

Shot variables

The main variables in a shot of espresso are the size and length.[7][8] Terminology is standardized, but precise sizes and proportions vary substantially.

Cafés generally have a standardized shot (size and length), such as "triple ristretto",[8] only varying the number of shots in espresso-based drinks such as lattes, but not changing the extraction – changing between a double and a triple require changing the filter basket size, while changing between ristretto, normale, and lungo require changing the grind, and cannot easily be accommodated in a busy café, as fine tweaking of the grind is a central aspect to consistent quality espresso-making, which is disrupted by major changes such as ristretto to lungo.


The size can be a single, double, or triple, which correspond roughly to a 1, 2, and 3 fluid ounce standard ("normale") shot, and use a proportional amount of ground coffee, roughly 7–8, 14–16, and 21–24 grams; correspondingly sized filter baskets are used. The Italian term doppio is often used for a double, with solo and triplo being more rarely used for singles and triples. The single shot is the traditional shot size, being the maximum that could easily be pulled on a lever machine, while the double is the standard shot today.

Singles, doubles, and triples vary not only in volume, but also in extraction – the puck of coffee in a single is the same cross-section, but shorter, while a triple has the same cross-section, but is longer, and this length has some effect of extraction.

Portafilters will often come with two spouts, usually closely-spaced, and a double-size basket – each spout can optionally dispense into a separate cup, yielding two solo-size (but doppio-brewed) shots, or into a single cup (hence why they are closely spaced). True solo shots are rare, with a single shot in a café generally being half of a doppio shot.

In espresso-based drinks, particularly larger milk-based drinks, a drink with three or four shots of espresso will be called a "triple" or "quad", respectively, but this does not mean that the shots themselves are triple or quadruple shots. Rather, generally double shots will be used, with 1½ shots used in a triple (split via the two spouts), and 2 shots used in a quad.


The length of the shot can be ristretto ("restricted"), normale/standard ("normal"), or lungo ("long"): these correspond to a smaller or larger drink with the same amount of ground coffee and same level of extraction. Proportions vary, and the volume (and low density) of crema make volume-based comparisons difficult (precise measurement uses the mass of the drink), but proportions of 1:1, 1:2, and 1:3–4 are common for ristretto, normale, and lungo, corresponding to 1 oz, 2 oz, and 3–4 oz (30 ml, 60 ml, 90–120 ml) for a double shot. "Ristretto" is the most commonly used of these terms, and double or triple ristrettos are particularly associated with artisanal espresso.

Ristretto, normale, and lungo are not simply the same shot, stopped at different times – this will result in an underextracted shot (if run too short a time) or an overextracted shot (if run too long a time). Rather, the grind is adjusted (finer for ristretto, coarser for lungo) so that the target volume is achieved by the time extraction finishes.

A significantly longer shot, rare in the Anglosphere, is the caffè crema, which is longer than a lungo, ranging in size from 4–8 oz (120–240 ml), and brewed in the same way, with a coarser grind.

Espresso can also be lengthened by dilution with hot water, as in the Americano, Canadiano or long black.

Espresso-based drinks

In addition to being served alone, espresso is frequently blended, notably with milk (either steamed or foamed) and with hot water. Notable milk-based espresso drinks, in order of size, include: macciato, cappuccino, flat white, and latte, while espresso and water drinks especially include the Americano and long black.


  • 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.[9] Similar to a long black, but with opposite order.
  • Antoccino: (lt. "Priceless") A single shot of espresso with the same quantity of steamed milk poured above it, served in an espresso cup.
  • Black eye: A cup of drip coffee with two shots of espresso in it. (alternately a red-eye or Canadiano)
  • Bicerin (Pms. "Little glass") Made of layers of espresso, drinking chocolate, and whole milk. Invented and served in Turin.
  • Bombón (Sp. "confection"): Espresso served with condensed milk. Served in South East Asia, Canary Islands, Cook Islands and Mainland Spain.
  • Breve (It. "short"): Espresso with half-and-half.
  • Caffè Tobio : Espresso with an equal amount of American Coffee. Similar to Americano or Long Black
  • Carajillo: (Sp. slang for "nothing"): 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 from 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)
  • Guillermo: Originally one or two shots of hot espresso, poured over slices of lime. Can also be served on ice, sometimes with a touch of milk.
  • 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.
  • Café au lait (Fr. "coffee with milk"): In Europe prepared with shots of espresso and steamed milk[citation needed]. In the United States usually prepared instead with French press or drip coffee. (Very similar to "latte", see entry for lattes below)[10]
  • Latte (It. "milk"): This term is an abbreviation of "caffellatte" (or "caffè e latte"), coffee and 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".
  • Cafè Marocchino: Created in Turin, normally served in a small glass, this is a shot of espresso, a sprinkling of cocoa, frothed whole milk (about two table spoons to bring to the brim of the glass), then a further sprinkling of cocoa on top
  • Marron:(Brown) Etymology from Venezuela. An espresso with Milk. Latte. Varying from "Marron Claro" (Light Brown) with more milk and "Marron Oscuro" (Dark Brown) less milk.
  • 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.
  • 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").
  • Normale: A normal length shot, not ristretto or lungo. Term primarily used to contrast with "ristretto" and "lungo".
  • 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.
  • Triplo or Triple shot: Triple (3 fluid ounces) shot of espresso; "triplo" is rare; "triple shot" is more common.
  • '"Miami Vice'" or '"Cuban Americano'": The mixture of a Cubano and Americano, Sugar in the collection container, then mixed with hot water. This is often made as a double.

See also


  1. ^ How much caffeine is in your daily habit? -
  2. ^ The Book of Coffee, Francesco Illy, Ricardo Illy, 1992
  3. ^ "Caffe Mediterraneum – Invention of the Caffe Latte". Retrieved 2009-04-19. 
  4. ^ "espresso". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University press. 1989. Retrieved 2009-10-30. 
  5. ^ entry of expresso; Merriam Webster
  6. ^ (Morris)
  7. ^ Brewing ratios for espresso beverages
  8. ^ a b Anatomy of a Triple Ristretto, by Jeremy Gauger, Gimme Coffee, Mar 17, 2009 – images and explanation
  9. ^ From Bean to Brew, National Coffee Board. Accessed January 13, 2009.
  10. ^ Café au lait,

Further reading

  • Illy, Francesco; Illy, Ricardo (1989/1992). The Book of Coffee. Milano: Abbeville Press. ISBN 1558593217. 
  • Illy, Andrea; Viani, Rinantonio. Espresso: The Science of Quality. Academic Press. ISBN 0123703719. 
  • Bersten, Ian (1993). Coffee Floats Tea Sinks: Through History and Technology to a Complete Understanding. Helian Books. ISBN 0646091808. 
  • Fumagalli, Ambrogio (1995). Coffee Makers. Chronicle Books. ISBN 0811810828. 
  • An espresso timeline, with illustrations.
  • Adam Dean, The Founding Fathers of Espresso, Mainly an online summary of Bersten's original research (see above) on the development of the espresso machine by Luigi Bezzera, Desiderio Pavoni and Giovanni Achille Gaggia.

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also espresso


German Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia de


Espresso m. (genitive Espressos, plural Espressos)

  1. espresso

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|A cup of espresso]] Espresso is a type of Italian coffee that is concentrated. In order to make espresso, coffee beans are powdered and hot water is added under high pressure. This makes espresso have a very strong flavor. Because espresso is so strong, it is usually mixed with other coffee drinks.

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