Here your espresso, Sir! (Made in Italy)

Here we are again, talking about the fascinating world of Italian coffee.

If you read my post Trendy coffee with an Italian accent you have the basics to move on and learn about today’s topic: the Italian espresso. But for all of you that missed it because you had to run to Starbucks, well… you can just click on it… and next time please bring me a chai latte!!! – just kidding, maybe!

Let’s get professional now – well, as professional as I can be…

Let’s learn about espresso, the base of the other Italian coffee beverages.
Espresso has nothing to do with brewed coffee. In fact it has a thicker consistency, a higher concentration of dissolved solids, and crema (foam). A good espresso runs between 25 and 30 seconds, it fills about a shot glass – an inch of coffee – and the crema is clearly visible.

A lot of people think espresso contain more caffeine than brewed coffee, but that’s absolutely wrong! That is often because of the strong and mouth-filling flavor. But the quantity of caffeine is determined by the time water goes through the coffee. Of course, the longer it takes to brew, more caffeine will be in the coffee. This explains why brewed coffee – that brews for a few minutes – has about double of caffeine contained in an espresso.

Many factors are needed in order to have a good espresso: the temperature of the water and the cup – if the cup is cold the coffee will have no crema -  the grind of the coffee and, of course, the barista‘s hands.

Another legend says espresso is a specific bean or roast level, but it’s actually only a method of making coffee. Any bean or roasting level can be used to produce authentic espresso. A darker or lighter roast will translate into a bitter or acid flavor respectively, and  mixtures where there are several roast levels are common.

In Italy roast levels can vary quite a bit. In Southern Italy, for example, a darker roast is often preferred, but the farther north one goes in the country, the trend moves toward lighter roasts.

Espresso can be enjoyed for breakfast, after lunch or dinner, and is never – NEVER – to go! Actually Italian coffee shops never have to go cups, because il caffè, or cappuccino, or any other beverage it’s meant to be consumed in the shop – called bar.

Other interesting thing to know: Italian people usually order a glass of water with the coffee, to drink before or after the espresso. (In Italy bars charge for water as well!)

Variations of espresso are:
- espresso doppio (double espresso);
- espresso macchiato (espresso with a dash of milk);
- espresso doppio macchiato (double espresso with a dash of milk);
- espresso lungo (long espresso, made with some extra hot water)
- ristretto (literally restricted, made with less water, yielding a stronger taste);
- espresso con panna (espresso with cream)
- corretto (espresso with a shot of liquor, usually grappa or brandy).

Try one before my next post.

To be continued…©

If you enjoyed this post you may want to read:
Tired to fake Italian
Italian food stereotypes, no grazie!
Trendy coffee with an Italian accent
Cappuccino, sweet pleasure for breakfast only and How to make a prefect foam cappuccino without a machine!

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11 responses to “Here your espresso, Sir! (Made in Italy)”

  1. Antonella says :

    E se qualcuno vi serve un espresso fatto con la macchina appena accesa è un criminale! ;-)

  2. Jenny Holm says :

    You’ve taught me a lot I didn’t know about espresso with this post. Thank you! I look forward to learning more from you.

  3. Debra Kolkka says :

    I am in Italy now. I have just got my Italian driver’s licence and I am really enjoying the coffee!!!

  4. Fragolina says :

    Thank you for this informative post,I love coffee but I never tasted the real italian one, I should go to Italy to have one, to taste different kinds of coffee..

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