Italian espresso

The Italian coffee is espresso. At least that's how we know it, in Italy it's just called a coffee. Espresso is a coffee preparation in which hot water is pressed under high pressure through very finely ground and pressed coffee.

Origin of espresso

The espresso preparation process was invented in the 19th century in France, but underwent a significant evolution in Italy from the beginning of the 20th century. Italy is therefore classically regarded as the 'homeland' of espresso.

Due to the great demand for faster preparations, Louis Bernard Rabaut and later Edward Loysel devised a method for the production of large quantities of coffee in which hot water was filtered through the coffee grounds by means of steam pressure.

The steam pressure was obtained by heating the brewing water in the boiling vessel to a high temperature. Around 1900, variations on this brewing method were devised in Italy, making preparations per cup possible. The name 'espresso' (Italian for 'fast') was born.

And so the real Italian coffee was born. But the development of the espresso machine still had a long way to go.

First compact espresso machine

In 1902 Luigi Bezzera patented the first compact espresso machine 'Ideale' suitable for any ordinary drinking establishment. Water and steam were pressed through the ground coffee under 1,5 bar. The disadvantage of working with steam pressure was the water that was too hot, which gave the coffee a 'burnt' taste.

First compact espresso machine Ideale by Luigi Bezzera

In 1947 Giovanni Achille Gaggia solved this problem by disconnecting pressure and water temperature. The water at a temperature below the boiling point is filtered through the grind by means of mechanical pressure.

By manually turning a lever up, a strong spring was tensioned which, once the lever was released, relaxed and moved a piston downwards, which in turn forced the hot water through the valve with the filter basket and coffee grounds.

Although the system still exists, today the spring with lever has been replaced by an electric pump.

Espresso preparation
Making espresso is a delicate business. This is defined with the formula:
7g * 23-28 sec * 9-10 bar * 92-96°C

That is, for one espresso (also called a shot or about 30 ml of coffee), water of about 95°C is forced through 7 grams of coffee, at a pressure of 9 bar, for about 25 seconds. Most espresso lovers make double shots, with at least 14 grams of coffee for about 40 – 60 ml.

This is how you recognize a good espresso

A good espresso is – except for the intense taste – characterized by a nice layer of deep brown crema (fats and sugars that are squeezed out of the coffee by the pressure), on which a small spoonful of sugar must rest for a short time.

Despite the strong taste, an espresso contains less caffeine than other coffee preparations due to the speed at which it is brewed. Fortunately, you can drink extra much of it.

The person in a catering business who deals with espresso and related drinks is the barista called. In Italy this is absolutely not a student job, but an honorable profession. The barista is aware that he is an important link in the coffee enjoyment of his clientele.

Espresso-based coffees

In fact, all Italian coffees are espresso-based coffees. Here you see an overview of the most common coffees that you can order in Italy at every bar and cafe.

  • de doppio (a double espresso in a cup);
  • de caffe macchiato ((spotted coffee), an espresso with a dollop of milk foam)
  • de Americano (an espresso brewed on a cup of hot water, looks like a regular Dutch cup of coffee)
  • de caffe corretto (an espresso with a shot of grappa, sambuca or brandy)
  • de cappuccino (espresso with steamed milk and milk foam in a cup of about 150-170 ml)
  • de caffe panna (espresso with whipped cream for the enthusiast).
  • de limited (an espresso with a smaller volume but with the full extraction time, for an extra strong taste)
  • de coffee lungo (an espresso that "continues to run" a little longer so that the volume is greater)
  • de caffè latte (a lungo with a splash of warm milk, about fifty-fifty)
  • de latte macchiato (more or less the 'coffee latte', i.e. a glass of warm milk with an espresso added)

☕ See also this blog article for the tastiest Italian coffee specialties.

Espresso with a mocha pot

The real Moka Express from Bialetti

Without investing in an expensive espresso machine, you can taste it at home for a good price strong taste of fresh espresso, immediately mocha jar (also called espresso pot).

The coffee you make with this is not a real espresso (because it can only be prepared with the formula given above), but offers that real Italian in no time at all. bite.

You can just use ground coffee for this. But if possible, choose an Italian brand of coffee.

If you want it even more, you buy real Italian coffee beans, which you first run through a coffee bean grinder, and then use them for your espresso pot.

How do you store Italian coffee?

Whichever brand you choose, for the best taste results, keep the opened package of the coffee in the fridge. Preferably in a non-transparent closed bus. I use Lavazza coffee cans for it, with a plastic lid.

Note: not everyone will agree with this option, because coffee beans easily absorb odors, which then influence the taste. It is best if you have a refrigerator in which you only store, for example, closed, odorless products (such as cans of beer).

coffee can fridge
I keep my coffee beans in such a coffee can in the fridge