☕ Coffee Journey - Espresso

Photo Credit: Di Bella Coffee

Welcome back to my Coffee Journey, a joint post for A - Z 2022 and Ultimate Blog Challenge. 

Today it's all about Espresso, the heart of every coffee beverage.

Espresso is used to describe the method of brewing, in which hot water is forced under pressure through a compressed bed of finely ground coffee. It's is the base for every steam-heated, steam-frothed milk beverage you may call your favorite: Caffè Latte, Cappuccino, Caffè Macchiato,...

Espresso has its roots in Italy, where this type of coffee preparation emerged in Milan around 1900. There, before the introduction of other methods, it was prepared exclusively with steam and served in bars only at the counter.

The name espresso goes back to so-called "coffee locomotives" manufactured between 1840 and 1870. Their name alludes to the analogy of preparing coffee with steam and a steam locomotive. Luigi Bezzera of Milan was able to capitalize on the popularity of the association of coffee with steam-powered express trains when he patented the first machine for caffè espresso. 

However, Espresso is just one method of making coffee: my favourite way for example is using my French Press. Technically this is not "brewing", but "steeping".  Here's a post on how to make coffee using a French Press.

Photo Credit: Rachel Brenner on Unsplash

Other people like their siphon brewer or mock pot, or they practice pour over. And then there is filtration or drip coffee.

Due to the strong roasting, the ground coffee for espresso contains less caffeine (about 212 mg of caffeine per 100 grams of liquid brewed coffee) than an equal amount of ground coffee for filter coffee. Accordingly, with the typical portion sizes, the amount of caffeine per cup of espresso is also lower than per cup of filter coffee. 

In case you were wondering.


Let's talk about the three components of an espresso shot:

Crema, Body and Heart.

I know, I know. You've been spending all your life believing your mental and physical wellbeing was all about Mind, Body and Heart.

Sorry to burst your bubble. Speaking of...

Crema is formed during the extraction process when water and coffee bean oils emulsify. After coffee beans are roasted, they begin to release CO2. Most of that is released into the air between roasting and grinding, but what CO2 remains in the cells is released during grinding. 

When hot water hits the coffee grounds with the high pressure of an espresso machine, the water emulsifies the oils in the coffee and then gets supersaturated with CO2, resulting in lots of tiny bubbles that make up the foamy layer of crema. 

The fresher your coffee is, the more foam you're going to have, so consider it a quality feature.

Crema usually tastes more bitter than the espresso itself. If you separate the crema from the coffee and drink the coffee, it’s going to be sweeter. Because of crema’s intense flavour, there are different opinions on dealing with it. Some recommend skimming it off the espresso, while others recommend stirring it in.

The middle layer is called the body and should be a caramel brown color.

Finally on the bottom of the espresso shot it the heart of the espresso. Its color should be a deep, rich brown. The heart of the espresso contains the bitter qualities, which balance out the sweetness of the crema and the espresso's aroma. 


That was a lot to take in!

You sure deserve a coffee break now. I do hope you're going after an espresso!

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

PS: Nespresso capsules may be super convenient and pretty looking, but if you're about good coffee, keep looking ;-) And it's not that I didn't adore George Clooney. 

PPS: In my book "expresso" is not an acceptable alternative proncuntation. Only exception: your native language is Spanish or Portuguese. 

PPPS: I have a theory about people and their coffee. Whether you prefer black coffee or your latte says a lot about your personality. More about it in my letter X post.


  1. So much to know about expresso..these days I shifted to my black coffee as am on no dairy ...so cool to know about creme layer...i never realised how it's formed

    Loved ur post and craving for coffee now :)

    Dropping by from A to Z –

  2. These really are delightful posts Tamara. I literally felt new appreciation for my morning cup of coffee today. And I had a number of misconceptions about espresso which you've cleared up.

  3. I think that's a lot of work to go through for a cup of coffee and I think it's too strong for me. Yes to George Clooney!

    Janet’s Smiles

  4. You might get me checking out Starbucks yet, Tamara. This coffee thing is very interesting. Good to know that there is less caffeine in expresso than filtered coffee.

  5. Popping in to try again!

    I don’t even drink coffee, except on the rare occasion when I’m trying to help a headache, but I enjoyed your history of the different types of coffee.

    And I do enjoy using my French press, although I use mine for herbal tea, lol!

    God bless!
    Ridge Haven Homestead

  6. This was a great post, by the way. Good on you, Tamara - we are all the recipients of an education through your blog posts!

  7. I had no idea that espresso had a lower caffeine content than regular brewed coffee. I don't why, I just always assumed it had more caffeine.

  8. Both of my children are very much into espresso... but I've never warmed to it. I guess as I like my coffee not so strong.

  9. My sister in law swears by using a French Press to make her coffee. I had no idea that espresso was lower in caffeine. Weekends In Maine


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