What is an Espresso?

An espresso is a coffee that is made by passing pressurised water through coffee powder. The water is nearly boiling, and no additional water is added to this coffee.

The history of an espresso goes back to the 1800s, with an Italian in Turin, Angelo Moriondo, being granted the patent. Since then the Espresso has been a favourite coffee in Italy.

The word espresso means “pressed-out” coffee but has now also come to mean freshly prepared and to be instantly enjoyed. Though the true Italian name is espresso with an ‘s’, many now call this coffee an “expresso” because of the term “express” or instant.

what is an espresso


The espresso is a primarily a method of brewing coffee and was one of the early instant coffees.

Coffee purists believe that this is the purest coffee available, an extract of beans that delivers a rich, velvety and complex set of flavours to the palate.

Illy, one of the global brands of Italian coffee defines a perfect espresso as the following:

Espresso’s authentic formula is clear and basic, its proper execution a matter of training, experience and natural talent.
A jet of hot water at 88°-93°C (190°-200°F) passes under a pressure of nine or more atmospheres through a seven-gram (.25 oz) cake-like layer of ground and tamped coffee.
Done right, the result is a concentrate of not more than 30 ml (one oz) ...

Espresso making is both a science and an art. This is the reasons why baristas take such pride in their creation of the perfect espresso.

The definition of Doppio, Ristretto & Lungo

Doppio - A doppio is a double espresso or two shots of espresso.

Ristretto – The term “ristretto” means limited or restricted in Italian. The ristretto is an espresso that is cut short. Typically, it is the first 22ml of an espresso. Thus, this is even more concentrated than an espresso and has an intensity of flavour that is loved by some.

Lungo – The lungo in Italian means “long”. This is therefore the opposite of the ristretto. This is an espresso that’s been extracted for a longer period. It thus has more water in it and the flavour is different to an espresso. The longer extraction and addition of water causes this taste change.

Espresso spread across the world with the speciality coffee movement. Read about this and some UK coffee roasters you should know here.