Espresso is black coffee made in a coffee machine or a special coffee maker, where hot water at a pressure of 9 bar is passed through the compressed ground beans. The finished drink should have a dense foam (baristas call it cream) of a uniform golden nut color, at least 2 mm thick. The taste of espresso harmoniously combines sweetness, bitterness and slight sourness. Flavor shades depend on the blend’s bean varieties, roast and barista skills.
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The homeland of the drink is Italy. Espresso is made very quickly and is drunk just as quickly. It has several variations and serves as the basis for many other coffee drinks.
Origin of name
The word espresso itself, translated from Italian, means “made just now, here and just for you.” This is how the Italians themselves understand the term. The version is supported by the fact that back in the middle of the 20th century, freshly cut espresso spaghetti was sold in Italian spaghetti.
However, the espresso process uses pressurized water. Thanks to this, another version of the translation of the name of the drink was born: “pressed”, “made under pressure”.
The history of espresso coffee
Strong black coffee is the eternal love of all inhabitants of the Mediterranean coast. But until the 20th century, the drink was prepared only in cezves (Turks), and visitors to coffee houses had to wait too long for an order. Therefore, when the Milanese engineer Luigi Bezzera invented the coffee machine in 1901, it immediately became clear that the machine had a great future. Already in 1903, the entrepreneur Desiderio Pavoni acquired a license and in 1905 began to produce Pavoni coffee machines.
The novelty delighted the public: now it took only half a minute to make coffee, so the name espresso turned out to be well deserved. Even before the war, the fashion for coffee machines swept Italy and France. In 1927, the first coffee machine appeared in a bar in New York.
But not without the dissatisfied. The fact is that in the model of the coffee machine invented by Bezzer, the particles of ground coffee overheated, the taste of espresso lost its sophistication, and the tones of burnt grains were felt in it.
The defect was corrected by the Milanese bartender Achille Gaggia, who proposed a completely different technology. In a semi-automatic Gadzhia coffee maker, pressure was created by a stream of hot water supplied under high pressure. Since the water temperature in such a coffee maker is below +100 ° C, the aroma of the drink is fully revealed, but the smell of burnt grains does not arise.
The economic situation in Italy after the war was extremely difficult, which is why many inhabitants emigrated to English-speaking countries: the USA, Canada, Australia. Espresso coffee was served in cafes and bars that Italian emigrants opened in a foreign land. As a result, already in the mid-60s of the last century, the drink gained popularity on all continents. He is loved even in conservative Asian countries, however, there they drink espresso chilled, mixed with ice.
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Espresso preparation rules
Classic espresso differs from other types of coffee by the absence of impurities: milk, cream, alcoholic beverages, spices. By adding these ingredients in different proportions to espresso, you can make dozens of other coffee drinks.
Italian coffee connoisseurs believe that the quality of espresso is influenced by 4 factors, which for ease of memorization are called the 4 m rule:
- miscela (mixture) – a well-chosen mixture of grains;
- macinadosatore – grinding;
- maccina – coffee machine;
- mano (hand) – barista skills.
Choosing an espresso coffee
The main advantage of espresso is its full-bodied taste and rich aroma. Arabica has a great aroma, which is why these beans are the most in espresso mixes. But if you brew espresso from beans of any one type, the aroma will be much poorer, “one-sided” than a mixture of different varieties of Arabica.
For greater strength, a little robusta is added to such mixtures, which is almost 2 times richer in caffeine. Robusta has one more feature: it gives a dense foam.
When buying coffee beans, you need to pay attention to whether there is a foil valve on the pack. Only if it is present does the coffee retain its aroma throughout the entire shelf life.
In specialized stores, you can make a mixture yourself, but they sell loose coffee in paper bags. Such coffee retains its aroma no longer than 2 weeks from the date of purchase.
When buying pre-ground coffee in packs, it is important to ensure its airtightness. After opening the package, it is better not to leave the coffee in the pack, but pour it into a glass container with a ground lid. The same should be done with excess self-ground coffee. But after 2–3 weeks of storage, the smell of ground coffee weakens.
The best aroma is found in espresso from beans that are ground just before brewing. Even if several hours pass between grinding the beans and brewing the coffee, the coffee will have time to damp and even fizzle out a little.
Flavored ground coffee is not suitable for making espresso: it is impossible to predict how the artificial flavors will behave in an espresso machine.
Grinding espresso coffee
It is important to know the rules:
- if the grind is too fine, the trickle of coffee pouring into the cup becomes almost black, and small particles can clog the coffee maker filter;
- when coarsely ground, espresso is thin and tasteless.
There is a special fine espresso grind: finer than medium, but coarser than fine. However, you can also use medium-ground coffee. Experienced baristas in wet weather advise using a slightly coarser grind: this powder is slower to absorb moisture.
Choosing a coffee maker
Each model of coffee maker or coffee machine has individual characteristics that are important to learn.
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Signs of a good espresso machine:
- holder from stainless steel. No matter how high-quality the plastic holder is, when heated it adds unpleasant chemical odors to the espresso aroma;
- the optimal pressure in the espresso chamber is 9 bar, the pump must provide a pressure of 15 bar, coffee makers with lower values of these parameters should not be bought;
- the water in the boiler must be heated to a temperature from +87 to +95 ° С. At a lower temperature, the coffee turns out to be liquid, insufficiently extracted, at a higher temperature, shades of burning are felt in the drink.
Preparing to brew an espresso
To make the espresso rich and aromatic, you need to consider some subtleties:
- Even if you want to make the espresso stronger, you cannot pour too much coffee into the holder: in this case, it will be difficult to tamp it with tempera. If the ground coffee is not compressed evenly, water will flow through areas of lower density. As a result, the drink will turn out to be liquid;
- it is important to choose the right tempera. Preference should be given to stainless steel temperams: aluminum and plastic are too fragile. The flat base tamper is suitable for both single and double holders. But the Americans prefer to use temperas with a convex (spherical) base for double holders: it compresses the center of the tablet most intensively, and presses the edges against the walls of the portafilter. As a result, the surface area of the particles washed by the water increases;
- ground coffee for a carob coffee machine is compressed, applying a force of 19–20 kg to the tamper;
- on too hard water, coffee turns out to be fresh and non-aromatic, in distilled water – the taste deteriorates, the strength decreases. For espresso, you need moderately soft, filtered or bottled water (mineralization – 75–250 mg / l, optimally 150 mg / l) without chlorine ions;
- ready-made coffee should be poured into a pre-warmed cup, preferably a ceramic one;
- espresso cannot be poured from one container to another;
- the foam should be uniform in color. White spots are a sign of excess caffeine in a serving.
The classic espresso recipe
- ground coffee – 7 grams;
- water – 30 ml;
- sugar to taste.
1. Switch on the coffee maker and wait for the ready indicator to go on.
2. If the coffee machine has a built-in grinder, put a tablespoon of beans in it. For a carob coffee maker, put 1 measuring container or 2 teaspoons with a small slide of ground coffee into the horn.
3. Press the coffee in a holder with tamper (for a carob coffee maker).
4. Install the holder into the coffee maker.
5. Place a clean, warm cup in the drip tray. Cooking time – 25-30 seconds.
6. Add sugar to taste.
Sometimes on the Internet you can find homemade espresso recipes prepared in a Turk. However, this drink is a variant of Turkish coffee and is absolutely not like a classic espresso. Real espresso coffee can only be brewed in a special coffee machine.
The method for preparing espresso variants is the same as for the main recipe. Adding a teaspoon or 5 gram sugar sticker increases the calorie content of a serving of coffee by 19.35 kcal.
- Doppio (double espresso): 14 g ground coffee, 60 ml water, preparation time 25-30 seconds. Caloric content – 4.5 to Cal.
- Tripplo (triple espresso): 21 g ground coffee, 90 ml water, preparation time 25-30 seconds. Caloric content – 6.75 kcal.
- Lungo: 7 g ground coffee, 50-60 ml water, preparation time 25-30 seconds. The drink contains more caffeine than classic espresso. Caloric content – 2.25 kcal.
- Ristretto: 7 g ground coffee, 15–20 ml water, preparation time 15–20 seconds. The drink contains less caffeine than classic espresso. Caloric content – 2.25 kcal.
- Coretto: Add a few drops of grappa to a standard espresso. Sometimes grappa is substituted for Irish whiskey, but this is considered not entirely correct.
- Romano: Add 5 ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice to a standard espresso. Sprinkle the froth with a pinch of lemon zest.
- Americano: A standard espresso is mixed with 60 – 90 ml of boiling water. Sometimes boiling water is served separately so that the visitor himself can adjust the strength of the drink.
- Espresso with cognac: add 1 – 2 teaspoons of cognac to a standard serving of espresso.
How to serve and drink espresso
The espresso is served within 1–1.5 minutes after preparation, in special small coffee cups or thick-walled demitassa cups. Together with coffee, be sure to put a glass of still water at room temperature and a sugar sticker (5 g) or a sugar bowl on the table. Sugar is added to the ready-made drink (optional).
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Before drinking coffee, you need to take a sip of water to clear the receptors. The espresso should be drunk as soon as possible, otherwise its taste and aroma will deteriorate.
Espresso can be eaten:
- chocolate (bitter or with pepper is especially good);
- hard cheese.
- Meats, fish, vegetables, beer and wine cannot be combined with espresso.
The benefits and harms of espresso
A healthy person will not hurt 1 cup of espresso a day. Sometimes the dose can be increased up to 2 – 3 cups, in exceptional cases – even up to 6-7. But the constant abuse of the drink often leads to problems with the cardiovascular system.
For those who already have such problems, it is better to exclude coffee altogether or limit its consumption to 1-2 cups a month. In case of diseases of the blood vessels and the gastrointestinal tract, it is not recommended to use espresso with alcohol.