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13.10.2019 Maria Ariyo

Espresso is a beautiful, flavourful shot of coffee, that also happens to be the foundation for all coffee drinks. What’s the story behind this intense drink, and how do you make a good shot of it?

Espresso is a favourite drink of many across the world, but especially in Italy. Did you know that in 2015 an Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti brewed an espresso in the space? Now that is something. You don’t have to go all the way to the moon to drink it though, let us guide you through the story of espresso.

Some of Our Favourite Espresso’s

Espresso in a Nutshell

espresso being made
Espresso is a short coffee drink, where hot water (but never boiling) is pressured through very finely ground coffee. The result is a brewed cup of espresso, which is about 30ml in volume. It’s more concentrated in both flavour and caffeine than for example drip coffee. Likewise, it contains a higher level of coffee fats, that while mixed with air, form the top layer known as the crema.

Darker roasts often have rich flavours of dark chocolate and nuts. Lighter roasts are often more complex, citrusy and floral. Think about your flavour palette when choosing the type of coffee you want your shot to be made of!

First Espresso Machines

The first espresso machine was invented by the Italian Angelo Moriondo from Turin, in 1884. The first models used to burn the coffee slightly, as the water was boiling hot. Through developing different models the machines were improved, and today’s machines have taken a huge leap from the 19th century.

Today’s machines are still manually operated but come with an electric pump connected to the water supply system. As a result, the brewing process is more controlled. Now, if you’re looking at buying an espresso machine, prepare yourself for the price tag: it can be anything from several hundred to thousands of euros. Better to warn Santa Claus in advance of this year’s wishlist!

espresso on the window sil

How to Prepare an Espresso

Good espresso is all about timing and consistency. There are a few steps to take into account:

Dose: a standard espresso drink is made with 18g of coffee. Take out your scale and make sure you’re precise over here.

Grind: You should grind your beans very fine — so you will need a powerful grinder.
Espresso grinders are usually quite expensive and a bit bigger than normal grinders might be. Good espresso grinders are the classic Mahlkönig EK43 and the newcomer, the Wilfa Svart Uniform.

Tamp: you should tamp the coffee dose in your tamper. This is done to even out the coffee and to make the coffee cake more compact. When your coffee is even in the basket, the extraction is also more even and you can get the best possible brew.

Extract: Here we go! You should turn the water flow on and make sure it’s at 90℃, wait about 30 seconds and turn the water flow off again to extract your espresso.

Basically, every coffee is different and hence also acts differently when brewing. So while making espresso, always feel free to test and explore. As the coffee ages, it may also change requiring you to alter the brewing time or grinding coarseness.

Do you drink espresso? What time of the day do you like to enjoy it? Share it with us in the comments!

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