Italian Espresso Italian Espresso

Espresso: All About This Iconic Italian Coffee

By Lavazza Team 2/3 minutes

The first coffee machine by Angelo Moriondo was patented in 1884. The device was a simpler version of an espresso machine than we currently have. At the beginning of the Twentieth Century this machine becomes available throughout Italy thanks to the work carried out by Luigi Bezzera (1901), who revised Moriondo’s project, and Desiderio Pavoni, who helped into its industrialisation.

But what is espresso?

What is an Espresso Coffee?

Espresso is a concentrated coffee that is served in shots. Espresso machines force pressurised hot water through fine coffee grounds, resulting in a thick dark brown liquid. Espresso has a crown-on-top called crema, foaming in a slightly paler brown colour from air bubbles that mix with oils in the ground coffee. Due to different densities, the foam floats on top and will feel thicker in texture and richer in flavour.

If you ask what does espresso mean? The word can be loosely translated as a cup of coffee brewed expressly. 

Choosing the Coffee Beans

You can use any coffee beans to make an espresso. Many prefer medium dark-roasted coffee as it gives espressos a more robust taste. If you’re wondering what is espresso powder you often find in the market, it’s usually referring to medium-dark roasted beans that are finely ground.

Beans aside, you must ensure that your coffee is finely ground. It’ll appear almost as smooth as flour. When you extract your espressos using coarsely ground coffee, your machine might not extract it correctly. Your espresso will taste dull, less thick, and less rich in flavour.

The History and Diffusion

Regarding espresso history, it all started with an explosion of the coffee business in Europe. Many cafes began flourishing across the continent, and there wasn’t enough knowledge to fulfil the enormous demand.

Back then, the machines relied on steam power to produce espresso quicker. Many created prototypes, but Angelo Moriondo’s machine was the gate-opener to espresso’s invention. His machine uses a large boiler that heats up to 1.5x bars of pressure which pushes water through the coffee grounds underneath. It also comes with a second boiler, producing steam to flash the coffee ground and finish the brew.

There wasn’t any apparent reason why Moriondo’s machine didn’t make the market. In the end, it wasn’t Moriondo who invented espresso. It was Luigi Bezzera and Desiderio Pavoni who came right after to dominate the market.

Luigi Bezzera was adept in manufacturing and making liquors. He presented espresso in the early 20th century. He constantly looked for a way to produce espresso quicker and pack it into a cup to be more convenient to distribute and sell. His first trial made espresso in a matter of seconds, but in return, his machine caught fire due to overheating.

Although failing his first attempt, Bezzera kept trying and only stopped as he ran out of money to expand his trials and market his products. This was where Desiderio Pavoni stepped in, buying Luigi Bezzera’s patents in 1903. Based on Bezzera’s design, Pavoni improved his creation with a pressure release valve. He also added a steam wand as a way to make use of the built-up steam inside the machine’s boiler.

Together, they perfected the espresso machine and presented their creation at the 1906 Milan Fair. It was the day the world was introduced to caffè espresso.

Characteristics of an Espresso

The little cup of dark elixir has an intense flavour. Taking it from the top, a good espresso would have a crema that’s thick enough to hide the watery coffee, but it wouldn’t be too frothy until it disperses before we can taste it. Then what is a long espresso, and why does it have less body? Long espressos are pulled for longer. It’ll contain more water and dilute the coffee concentration.

Any espresso aroma must be solid and intense. You can usually sense the notes just from inhaling the freshly brewed coffee. Sometimes you can smell the scent for several minutes after the espresso is brewed.

As for the taste, good espresso characteristics should be balanced flavour, nice sweetness and gentle acidity. Although strong, it’ll give a clean impression to the tongue. A good espresso also leaves a long-lasting aftertaste, which is fragrant and vivid even after you’ve finished your cup.

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