If you’re a coffee lover, you’ve probably wondered what espresso tastes like. Espresso is made by forcing pressurized hot water through finely-ground coffee beans, which produces a thicker coffee with a more intense flavor.
But what does espresso taste like? Depending on your taste preferences, you may find espresso to be slightly bitter, sweet, or nutty.
If you’re thinking about trying espresso for the first time, here’s a closer look at what you can expect in terms of taste and texture.
What Does Espresso Taste Like?
As we’ve mentioned, the taste of espresso can vary depending on your personal preferences. Some people find it to be slightly bitter, while others compare the flavor to that of dark chocolate or roasted nuts. The initial taste of espresso may be strong, but it’s typically followed by a sweeter aftertaste.
Traditionally, espresso has a very bitter and roasted quality to it. In modern times, espresso can have a range of flavors. You can experience hints of tropical sweet fruits, cocoa, citrusy flavors, and more.
If you use good quality dark-roasted beans for your espresso, then generally you’ll find chocolatey or nuttiness as a base flavor. This is one of the first or last quintessential flavors you may experience while sipping espresso. This is why this chocolatey note is attributed as the “natural” or standard flavor of coffee for most people around the globe.
The bitterness of espresso is caused by the high level of acids present in the coffee beans. These acids are broken down during the roasting process, which is why dark roasted beans typically have a less bitter taste than lightly roasted beans. If you find the bitterness of espresso to be too intense, you can try adding milk or cream to balance out the flavor.
The Texture Of Espresso
In addition to its unique flavor, espresso also has a thicker texture than regular brewed coffee. This is due to the pressure and ratio (coffee grounds to water) used to brew an espresso. As a result, less water is absorbed by the coffee grounds. You’ll notice that when you order an espresso at a café, the barista will often use a metal pitcher to steam milk before adding it to your drink. This step helps create a smooth and creamy texture that’s perfect for savoring every last drop.
Palate Profile: Bitter Or Sweet?
Espresso can inhabit both bitter and sweet flavors simultaneously due to the incorporation of a wide range of flavors. Most people would describe the palate profile of espresso as ‘bitter’.
However, this is highly due to the actual bean origin, roasting perfection, grind level, and brewing skill behind your cup of espresso. Generally speaking, an ‘ideal’ shot of espresso should be well-balanced, have a chocolatey or nutty base, and have a smoother finish. Depending on the bean’s origin, you may also have the aromas of tropical fruits.
Make Your Espresso Sweeter
Espresso can be turned sweeter in a brew. For this, you have to pick a quality roast profile for your espresso ground. Moreover, you have to perfect the extraction procedure. Try finding a smoother and well-balanced roast profile – to achieve a sweeter result. Pulling a shorter shot (i.e., ristretto) can also enhance the inherent sweetness of your espresso coffee grounds.
Additionally, you can include various milks (dairy and non-dairy) in your espresso. Milk adds more natural sweetness. Coffee creamers and sugar can help as well! You can go all the way by adding both milk and sugar!
Whether you’re a veteran coffee drinker or just getting started on your caffeine journey, there’s no denying that espresso is worth trying at least once. And especially, you should try to perfect the espresso-making at home! Espresso and espresso-based drinks (latte, cappuccino, mocha, macchiato, and so on) are becoming very doable drinks for home baristas. This is why we encourage you to engage in home practice.
But until then, the next time you’re in your local café, order an espresso and see for yourself what this unique type of coffee tastes like!