What Is Espresso? (Origin, Taste and How to Make)

What Is Espresso


Every coffee aficionado out there knows about espresso, as it is one of the most hyped coffee beverages available. But, knowing that espresso exists is one thing and understanding what it is all about is a completely different thing.

A huge chunk of coffee drinkers fall in the category of those that know about espressos but do not understand it and some will not even know what sets it apart from regular coffee.

But, there is no harm in not knowing what an espresso is because coffee is a wide field with lots of beverages and terms to discover and this is one of the key things that make it such an interesting beverage.

And we are here to tell you more about this amazing coffee beverage from its origins to what makes it different from regular coffee and most importantly how to make it at home.

Table of Contents

Overview and Origin

Espresso is a thicker and bolder type of coffee that is usually made by forcing hot water under pressure through the finely-ground coffee and will typically have a nice crema at the top.

Due to the pressurized brewing process, espressos tend to have more concentrated flavors. This high concentration means you can only take little of it at a time, and so instead of full 8-ounce cups, it is served in 1 or 2-ounce shots and either single or double shots and in a demitasse which is a small ceramic cup designed specifically for serving espresso.

Like many other coffee types, espresso has its origins in Italy and according to different accounts of its origin, the coffee-making technique and the machine that made it can be attributed to Angelo Moriondo who go a patent for the first "espresso machine" back in 1884.

However, it was not until after the Second World War that the popularity of espressos spread to the USA and other parts of Europe and soon after to the rest of the world. While the technique and principle involved in making this coffee have remained the same, new and more advanced espresso machines are always coming into the market.

What Does It Taste Like?

What Does It Taste Like


One of the main reasons many coffee lovers will avoid espressos when ordering coffee in a café or restaurant is that they think that because it is more concentrated it will be bitter and hence unbearable.

While it is true poorly made espresso can be quite bitter, a good one can be best described as strong, rich, bold and full-bodied.

Espresso will have the full flavors you would get in a cup of coffee packed in an ounce or two, and so for some people, the high concentration of flavors might be a little too intense for their palates to register they will be overwhelmed.

However, for most people, the rich espresso flavors will not register when taking it for the first few times. But once you get used to it, you will be able to appreciate the rich aroma and smooth flavors characterized by sweet, floral, spicy, fruity and other pleasant notes.

Difference between Espresso and Regular Coffee

While for many coffee aficionados and experts the differences between espresso and regular coffee are obvious, things are not always that clear for some coffee lovers.

The difference between the two coffee beverages mostly stems from the method used to make the coffee. With espresso, coffee is made by forcing water through finely-ground and packed coffee at high pressure and with regular filtered coffee, on the other hand, gravity is used to slowly drive hot water through the coffee grounds to extract coffee.

Also, the grind size used to make the two coffee types are different. With espresso, you will need fine coffee grounds for the best brew quality but with regular filter coffee, a coarser ground is more appropriate as it provides nice coffee flavors and using fine ground would make the coffee bitter.

How Much Caffeine Is In Espresso?

Despite the small brew size, espresso contains quite a lot of caffeine, and it will have more caffeine per ounce than most other coffee types as it is a more concentrated beverage.

A typical shot of espresso contains about 65 mg of caffeine, and so if you take two a day you will be taking in around 130 mg of caffeine. While this might look like much, it is still way below the maximum recommended daily caffeine intake which is 400 mg.

Per serving, espresso contains just about the same amount of caffeine as regular drip coffee since an 8-ounce cup will have at least 95 mg of caffeine. And if you are like many coffee drinkers that prefer 12-ounce cups of drip coffee, you will be taking in a little over 140mg of caffeine.

How to Make an Espresso

Most coffee bars and restaurants have perfected the art of making espresso, and so they will provide some amazing brews. However, their coffee also comes with a hefty price tag and if you have to take it daily, you will end up spending a fortune to get your caffeine fix. But, the good news is that you can easily make espresso at home and here is how to do it.

Method 1: Espresso Machine

Espresso Machine


An espresso machine provides a fast and easy way of making espressos, and it is also a more convenient and consistent method. All, you need to do is add water and the coffee grounds and you should have a shot or two of espresso in your cup in a few seconds.

What You Will Need

Average Brew Time: 20-30 seconds (but pre-heating the machine takes longer)

Step By Step Directions

Step 1: Because some espresso machine can take up to 45 minutes to heat up, you should always start by switching on the machine to heat it as you do everything else.

Step 2: Next, grind your coffee beans to a fine consistency if you are using whole beans.

Step 3: Fill up the water reservoir on the machine with filtered water.

Step 4: Remove the portafilter and fill it with the coffee grounds and tamp.

Step 5: Return the portafilter to the espresso machine and place your demitasse on the machine.

Step 6: Press start to pull a shot of espresso and enjoy.

Method 2: Moka Pot

Moka Pot


Just because you do not have one of those fancy espresso machines it does not mean you cannot make and enjoy some flavorful espresso. There are still other methods you can use that do not involve machines such as the stovetop Moka pot which is also quite an easy method.

What You Will Need

  • A Moka pot
  • 20-22 grams of finely ground coffee beans
  • Filtered water
  • Stovetop or any other heat Source

Average Brew Time: Under 5 Minutes

Step By Step Directions

Step 1: If you do not have fine coffee grounds, start by grinding your whole beans finely with a burr grinder.

Step 2: Add water to the Moka pot up to the maximum fill line.

Step 3: Next pour the ground coffee into the middle chamber which is the coffee basket.

Step 4: Finish assembling the Moka pot by adding the top chamber where the espresso will collect and put it over the heat source at medium heat.

Step 5: Listen to the hissing sound that the pot will make when brewing and once it stops, your espresso is ready and you can now serve and enjoy.

Note: While the two methods above explain how to make espresso when you have a machine and when you do not, there are still many other methods of making espressos such as French press and AeroPress. And so it is always great to experiment with these different beverages and settle for the taste you like best.


Espressos make the perfect cup of coffee for any coffee lover that prefers strong, bold, rich and full-bodied coffee and its taste is like no other coffee type.

Better yet, espressos expose you to a wide variety of beverages as it forms the base for many other beverages from milk-based ones like cappuccino and lattes to black coffees like long black and Americano.

And even if you do not want to invest in an expensive espresso machine, you can still enjoy this amazing coffee as there are many other methods of making it such as using a Moka pot, AeroPress and French press.


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