Espresso Coffee

What Is Espresso Coffee?

With all of the terms floating around: coffee espresso, espresso coffee, caffe espresso, etc., it gets confusing.  Is their a certain type of bean that's an espresso bean?  What makes ordinary coffee become espresso coffee?  Can you make espresso coffee with a normal coffee pot?  This is your guide to everything you need to know about what the difference is between coffee and espresso coffee.  To begin with,  espresso coffee, as it is normally referred to, simply means espresso.  There is no difference between coffee espresso and espresso. coffee-espresso-shot/

Coffee Beans vs. Espresso Beans

Perhaps the biggest misunderstanding revolves around the beans in espresso.  It is not the coffee bean that determines whether a drink is coffee or espresso.  There are not particular "espresso beans" that are grown.  In fact, any type of bean can be used to brew espresso, as well as varying types of roasts.  Contrary to the thought that espresso beans need to be a dark roast, as you would normally find on the west coast, you will find that on the east coast, a lighter roast is the preferred style, and if you head even farther east to Italy, you'll discover espresso brewed with a medium roast.  It depends completely upon your taste preference.  Some find that a light roast doesn't have enough oils in the bean to produce true espresso flavor.  Others find that a dark roast has too many oils which can give the espresso a bitter taste.  To be safe, a medium roast will often produce the most consistently good espresso flavor.  It is also not the blend that determines the outcome; however, there are certainly special blends created for espresso coffee, most notably, perhaps are Lavazza, illy and Segafredo.  It is important to note that espresso coffee beans are ground to a much finer consistency than a coffee beans ground for a drip coffee machine.  The finer the grind, the longer it will take for the espresso to come out.  Most baristas aim for a 25 second window, and the coffee can be ground finer or coarser to accommodate this time frame. coffee-espresso-beans2/

How-to-Make Espresso Coffee


Espresso is created by using pressure to force hot water through a very finely ground coffee.  This pressurized brewing system creates a very concentrated and intense product, which is why coffee espresso can form the basis of other drinks, including Americanos, lattes and cappuccinos.  If you were to add extra water or flavorings in that way to a cup of standard coffee, you would be left with a very weak beverage.  Intense does not, however, necessarily mean more caffeine.  In fact, a shot of espresso, (approx. 1 ounce) has only half the caffeine of a cup of drip coffee (approx. 6 cups).  Both drip coffee and espresso have an equivalent extraction: generally 20% of coffee grounds are extracted into the coffee beverage, but espresso is more concentrated simply due to less water being added.  To create this intense beverage, pressure, generally a 9 BAR minimum, is used to force the small quantity of water through the grounds.  Coffee espresso makers that claim to be espresso machines but rely on steam pressure, such as the Moka Express by Bialetti and only achieve a maximum pressure of 1.5 BAR and are not able to produce true espresso.

Coffee Espresso Machines

Any machine that can reach up to 9 BAR, or 135 PSI (pounds per square inch) can technically be considered a coffee espresso machine.  Coffee espresso makers that do not should be grouped under percolators.  To produce one shot of espresso, generally a lever must be pulled down.  This lever is attached to a spring-loaded piston, which springs to push the water through the fine coffee grounds.  This process is called "pulling" a shot of espresso.  In super automatic coffee espresso machines, this is done for the barista with either steam or a pump.

What's in Your Mug? Coffee or Espresso?

coffee-espresso-mug2/ Still not sure what're you're drinking?  Straight coffee espresso will be a smaller quantity, generally one or two shots, and will be thicker than standard drip coffee.  You should also look for the crema, a foam that is produced from the steam process of creating espresso.  Often fancy coffee shops will create unique art designs in lattes and cappuccinos.  Remember, if someone says coffee espresso, espresso coffee, or caffe espresso, you can save yourself confusion and simply think espresso.  And when a coffee fanatic asks you to pick him up some "espresso beans," remember that they're going to need to be very finely ground, and depending on what area he's from, it could be a light or dark roast, but medium is always safe!