When you wake up in the morning and stumble bleary-eyed to the kitchen to make your first cup of espresso of the day, do you ever stop and think what country does the word espresso come from? Well, lucky for you, we’ve done the thinking part for you! Read on to learn about the long and winding history of everyone’s favorite pick-me-up.
What Is An Espresso?
Espresso is a coffee beverage that is brewed by forcing pressurized hot water through coffee beans that have been ground very finely.
The result is a strong, concentrated coffee with warm honey color and a layer of cream up top. While espresso is often drunk on its own, it is also used as the base for many other popular coffee drinks, such as cappuccinos, lattes, and mochas.
What Does The Word “Espresso” Mean?
The word “espresso” actually comes from Italian, and it means “pressed out.” This refers to the method of brewing espresso, which uses pressure to force hot water through the grounds very quickly. According to legend, espresso was invented in Italy in 1884 by Angelo Moriondo. However, it wasn’t until 1901 that Luigi Bezzera patented a machine that could make espresso more efficiently.
Fun Note: You may be surprised to learn that the drink (and the brewing technique of) espresso was invented well before the word espresso! Angelo Moriondo patented his invention first – it was a fast, steam-powered coffee maker. The word espresso appeared and was colloquialized later after subsequent inventors improved both the machine and brewing process.
How Espresso Became So Popular…
Espresso didn’t really become popular in America until after World War II when soldiers who had been stationed in Italy returned home with a taste for this new way of making coffee. In 1957, two Italians—Achille Gaggia and Ernesto Valente—opened the first American espresso bar in New York City. From there, the popularity of espresso spread across the country like wildfire. These days, you can find espresso at practically any café you go to—even Starbucks!
Some Interesting Facts About Espresso
- Origin: Originated in Italy, the very first espresso machine was patented back in 1901 by Luigi Bezzera
- Brewing Process: Espresso is brewed by forcing pressurized hot water through finely-ground coffee beans. It typically takes about 25 to 30 seconds to brew a shot of espresso
- Crema: One distinctive characteristic of espresso is the crema, a layer of foam that forms on top of the shot. The crema is created by the pressurized brewing process and is considered an indicator of a well-made espresso
- Size: A standard shot of espresso is about 1 ounce (30 milliliters) in volume. However, there are different variations, such as the single shot (solo), double shot (doppio), and even triple or quadruple shots
- Caffeine Content: Contrary to popular belief, espresso is not the most caffeinated type of coffee. While the brewing method concentrates the flavors, it actually has less caffeine per serving compared to drip coffee. A regular shot of espresso carries around 63 mg of caffeine
- Espresso-Based Drinks: Espresso serves as the base for various popular coffee drinks. Some examples include cappuccino (espresso, steamed milk, and milk foam), latte (espresso and steamed milk), macchiato (espresso with a small amount of milk), and Americano (espresso diluted with hot water)
- Espresso Shots Per Day: It is common for Italians to enjoy multiple shots of espresso throughout the day. It is a part of their cultural tradition and is typically consumed in small, quick servings
- Pressure: Espresso machines use high pressure, typically between 8 and 10 bars, to force the water through the coffee grounds. This pressure is essential for extracting the flavors and oils from the coffee beans efficiently
- Grinding: The coffee beans used for espresso are ground to a fine consistency, finer than those used for drip coffee. This finer grind allows for a slower extraction process, resulting in a concentrated and intense flavor profile
- The Espresso Martini: The Espresso Martini is a popular cocktail that combines espresso, vodka, coffee liqueur, and sugar syrup. It was created by a London bartender named Dick Bradsell in the 1980s and has since become a classic cocktail enjoyed around the world
These are just a few interesting facts about espresso. It’s a fascinating and beloved coffee preparation method with a rich history and a dedicated following of coffee enthusiasts.
It’s historically correct that English speakers adopted the word espresso, popularized it globally, and the delicious, rich coffee it stands for — from Italy. Even though, the speedy brewing method was invented years before the word itself. This is why you’ll hear “expresso” instead of “espresso,” when it comes to pronunciation!
Regardless, who would have thought that such a small word could have such a big history? So, the next time you take a sip of your morning or afternoon espresso, be sure to pause for a moment to appreciate all the different people and places that brought this delicious beverage into your life.