Pulling shots, serving a doppio, drinking 'spro... there are many words for espresso floating around coffee shops today. But what exactly is it?
Espresso is a concentrated form of coffee, brewed by forcing pressurized hot water (around 90 °C or 190 °F) through finely ground coffee beans and yielding 1-1.5 oz of coffee. It originated in Italy in the early 20th century as a result of industrialization and has since become extremely popular worldwide.
Fun fact: The word "espresso" in Italian means "pressed out" or "expressed"!
Espresso can be served alone or as a component of most milk-based coffee drinks, such as lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos, as well as with hot water to make an Americano or Italiano. Generally, espresso has a full-bodied and bold taste with a balance of sweetness, acidity, and bitterness. The crema is a defining characteristic of a quality espresso shot, adding a velvety texture and complex flavors. A creamy, golden-brown layer that forms on top of the shot, the crema is created through the emulsification of coffee oils and carbon dioxide during the brewing process.
A common misconception about coffee is that there are certain beans you must use for espresso. This is untrue... however, there are certain beans and roasts that can make for a smoother, tastier espresso-based drink! Coffee beans used for espresso are often roasted slightly darker than those used for other brewing methods. The darker roast can enhance the bittersweet and caramelized flavors commonly associated with espresso.
Here at Makeworth, we rotate the beans we use in our espresso hopper on a regular basis. We find that each coffee has different complex, intricate flavors when tasted on espresso.
We suggest our State St blend — it's our boldest roast, perfect for any espresso-based drink! If you're looking for a lighter espresso, give this Colombian Pink Bourbon from Luis Calderon a try — its strawberry, kiwi tasting notes are bright and juicy unlike any other!