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A cup of espresso from Ventimiglia, Italy
Country of origin Italy
ColorBlack or brown
Coffee, brewed, espresso, restaurant-prepared
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy8.4 kJ (2.0 kcal)
Riboflavin (B2)
0.2 mg
Niacin (B3)
5.2 mg
80 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water97.8 g
Theobromine0 mg
Caffeine212 mg

Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults,[1] except for potassium, which is estimated based on expert recommendation from the National Academies.[2]

Espresso (/ɛˈsprɛs/ , Italian: [eˈsprɛsso]) is a coffee-brewing method in which a small amount of nearly boiling water is forced under pressure through finely ground coffee beans.

Originating from Italy,[3][4] the French also made significant contributions[vague] via the invention of coffee makers, predecessors of today's espresso machines.

Espresso can be made with a wide variety of coffee beans and roast degrees, and numerous espresso-based drinks exist, often blending in milk. It is one of the world's most popular coffee-brewing methods.[citation needed]


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Angelo Moriondo, inventor of an important precursor to the espresso coffee machine
Luigi Bezzera and the first espresso machine at the World Expo 1906 in Milan
A manual Italian handmade espresso machine
An automatic Italian handmade espresso machine


The first espresso machine[5] or prototype[6] was created in France in 1822 by Louis Bernard Rabaut.[7]

In 1855, another Frenchman, Edouard Loysel de Santais, presented a café express machine able to make 2,000 cups of coffee in one hour. However, the machine did not use steam to directly force water through the coffee, and it apparently brewed coffee into a pot.[8][9]

Angelo Moriondo is often erroneously credited for inventing the beverage, since he patented a steam-driven coffee beverage making device in 1884 (No. 33/256), probably the first Italian coffee machine similar to other French and English 1800s steam-driven coffee machines. The device is "almost certainly the first Italian bar machine that controlled the supply of steam and water separately through the coffee", and Moriondo is "certainly one of the earliest discoverers of the expresso [sic] machine, if not the earliest".[10] Seventeen years later, in 1901, Luigi Bezzera, from Milan, devised and patented several improved versions of the coffee machine, the first of which was applied for on 19 December 1901. Titled "Innovations in the machinery to prepare and immediately serve coffee beverage"; Patent No. 153/94, 61707, was granted on 5 June 1902 and was the first espresso machine.[11] In 1903, the patent was bought by Desiderio Pavoni, who founded the La Pavoni company and began to produce the machine industrially, manufacturing one machine daily in a small workshop in Via Parini, Milan.[12]


A detailed discussion of the spread of espresso is given in (Morris 2007). In Italy, the rise of espresso consumption was associated with industrialization and urbanization, notably in Turin, Genoa, and Milan in northwest Italy.[citation needed] Italians also spread espresso culture into their East African colonies, Italian Somalia and Italian Eritrea.[13] Under the Fascist regime, coffee consumed standing up was subject to price controls, encouraging the "stand at a bar" culture.[citation needed]

In the English-speaking world, espresso became popular, particularly in the form of cappuccino, owing to the tradition of drinking coffee with milk and the exotic appeal of the foam; in the United States, this was more often in the form of lattes, with or without flavored syrups added. The latte is claimed to have been invented in the 1950s by Italian American Lino Meiorin of Caffe Mediterraneum in Berkeley, California, as a long cappuccino, and was then popularized in Seattle[14] and then nationally and internationally by Seattle-based Starbucks in the late 1980s and 1990s.

In the United Kingdom, espresso grew in popularity in the 1950s among youth, who felt more welcome in coffee shops than in pubs. Espresso was initially popular particularly within the Italian diaspora, growing in popularity as tourism to Italy exposed others to espresso, as developed by Eiscafès, established by Italians in Germany. Initially, expatriate Italian espresso bars were seen as downmarket venues, serving the working-class Italian diaspora and thus providing appeal to the alternative subculture; this can still be seen in the United States in Italian American neighborhoods, such as Boston's North End, New York's Little Italy, and San Francisco's North Beach. As specialty coffee developed in the 1980s (following earlier developments in the 1970s and even 1960s), an indigenous artisanal coffee culture developed, with espresso instead positioned as an upmarket drink.

Since the 2010s, coffee culture commentators have distinguished large-chain mid-market coffee as "second-wave coffee" and upmarket artisanal coffee as "third-wave coffee". In the Middle East and Asia, espresso is growing in popularity, with the opening of Western coffee-shop chains.[15][self-published source?]

The third-wave coffee movement encompasses espresso machines as a broader coffee culture that values relationships with growers and importers and the craftsmanship involved in making specific coffee-based drinks. The mention of brands like Synesso, La Marzocco, and Slayer, known for their top-notch equipment, highlights the differences between traditional espresso machines and super-automatic machines to achieve complete coffee preparation.[16]

The significance of espresso machines in coffee culture today lies in their central role in the preparation of espresso-based drinks. Espresso machines are not merely tools for brewing coffee; they are symbols of craftsmanship, quality, and dedication to coffee making.

Etymology and spelling

Some English dictionaries translate espresso as "pressed-out",[17] but the word also conveys the senses of expressly for you and quickly:

The words express, expres and espresso each have several meanings in English, French and Italian. The first meaning is to do with the idea of "expressing" ("pressing out of") or squeezing the flavour from the coffee using the pressure of the steam. The second meaning is to do with speed, as in a train. Finally there is the notion of doing something "expressly" for a person ... The first Bezzera and Pavoni espresso machines in 1906 took 45 seconds to make a cup of coffee, one at a time, expressly for you.[18]

Modern espresso, using hot water under pressure, as pioneered by Gaggia in the 1940s, was originally called crema caffè (lit.'cream coffee'), as seen on old Gaggia machines, due to the crema.[19] This term is no longer used, though crema caffè and variants (caffè crema, café crema) still appear in branding.

The spelling expresso is mostly considered incorrect, though some sources call it a less common variant.[20] It is common in French and Portuguese. Italy uses the term espresso, substituting s for most x letters in Latin-root words, with the term deriving from the past participle of the verb esprimere, itself derived from the Latin exprimere;[21] x is not considered part of the standard Italian alphabet. Italians commonly refer to espresso simply as caffè (lit.'coffee'), espresso being the ordinary coffee to order. The same happens in Portugal (café), with some regional variations (bica in Lisbon and cimbalino traditionally in Porto). In Spain, while café expreso is seen as the more formal denomination, café solo (alone, without milk) is the usual way to ask for it at an espresso bar. Some sources state that expresso is an incorrect spelling, including Garner's Modern American Usage.[22] While the 'expresso' spelling is recognized as mainstream usage in some American dictionaries,[23][24] some cooking websites call the 'x' variant illegitimate.[25][26][27] Oxford Dictionaries online states: "The spelling expresso is not used in the original Italian and is strictly incorrect, although it is common."[28] The Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster call it a variant spelling.[22] The Online Etymology Dictionary calls expresso a variant of espresso.[29] The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style (2000) describes the spelling expresso as "wrong", and specifies espresso as the only correct form.[30] The third edition of Fowler's Modern English Usage, published by the Oxford University Press in 1996, noted that the form espresso "has entirely driven out the variant expresso (which was presumably invented under the impression that it meant 'fast, express')".[31]


Espresso is generally thicker than coffee brewed by other methods, with a viscosity similar to that of warm honey. This is due to the higher concentration of suspended and dissolved solids and the crema on top (a foam with a creamy consistency).[32] As a result of the pressurized brewing process, the flavors and chemicals in a typical cup of espresso are very concentrated.

Espresso contains more caffeine per unit volume than most coffee beverages, but as its usual serving size of 25–30 ml (1 US oz) is much smaller than other coffee drinks, the overall caffeine content of a single "serving" of espresso is generally lower than that of other coffees.[33] While the exact caffeine content of any coffee drink will vary, a typical 30 millilitres (1 US fluid ounce) serving of espresso contains approximately 65 milligrams of caffeine, but a typical 240 millilitres (8 US fluid ounces) serving of drip coffee contains 150–200 mg of caffeine.[34][35][36]

The three dispersed phases in espresso are what make the beverage unique. The first dispersed phase is an emulsion of oil droplets. The second phase is suspended solids, while the third is the layer of gas bubbles or foam. The dispersion of very small oil droplets is perceived in the mouth as creamy. This characteristic of espresso contributes to what is known as the body of the beverage. These oil droplets preserve some of the aromatic compounds that are lost to the air in other coffee forms, enhancing the strong flavor of espresso.[37]

The crema is a layer of dense foam that forms on top of the drink.[38][39] It consists of emulsified oils in the ground coffee turned into a colloid, which does not occur in other brewing methods. Crema is produced when water placed under very high pressure dissolves more carbon dioxide, a gas present inside the coffee that is produced during the roasting process.[40]

Espresso is served on its own, and is also used as the base for various other coffee drinks, including caffè latte, cappuccino, caffè macchiato, caffè mocha, flat white, and americano.


Espresso brewing
Finely ground coffee for espresso
An Italian-American espresso shop

Espresso is made by forcing very hot water under high pressure through finely ground compacted coffee. There is no universal standard defining the process of extracting espresso,[41] but several published definitions attempt to constrain the amount and type of ground coffee used, the temperature and pressure of the water, and the rate of extraction.[42][43] Generally, one uses an espresso machine to make espresso.

The act of producing a shot of espresso is often called "pulling" a shot, originating from lever espresso machines, with which a barista pulls down a handle attached to a spring-loaded piston, which forces hot water through the coffee at high pressure. However, it is more common for an electric pump to generate the pressure.[44]

Tamping down the coffee promotes the water's even penetration through the grounds.[45] This process produces a thicker beverage by extracting both solid and dissolved components.

The technical parameters outlined by the Italian Espresso National Institute for making a "certified Italian espresso" are:[46]

Parameter Value
Necessary portion of ground coffee 7 g ± 0,5
Exit temperature of water from unit 88°C ± 2°C
Temperature in cup 67°C ± 3°C
Entry water pressure 9 bar ± 1
Percolation time 25 ± 5 seconds
Viscosity at 45°C > 1,5 mPa s
Total fat > 2 mg/ml
Caffeine < 100 mg/cup
Volume in cup (including crema) 25 ml ± 2,5


Any bean or roasting level can be used to produce authentic espresso. For example, in southern Italy, a darker roast is generally preferred. Farther north, the trend moves toward slightly lighter roasts, while outside Italy a wide range is popular.[47]


See also: Doppio, Ristretto, and Lungo

Extracting a doppio
A double ristretto with the first half of the shot in the glass at the bottom of the image, and the second half in the glass on the right

The main variables in a shot of espresso are the "size" and "length".[48][49] This terminology is standardized, but the precise sizes and proportions vary substantially.

Cafés may have a standardized shot (size and length), such as "triple ristretto",[49] only varying the number of shots in espresso-based drinks such as lattes, but not changing the extraction. Changing between a double and a triple requires changing the filter basket size, while changing between ristretto, normale, and lungo may require changing the grind.

The size can be a single, double, or triple, using a proportional amount of ground coffee, roughly 7, 14, and 21 grams; correspondingly sized filter baskets are used. The Italian multiplier term doppio is often used for a double, with solo and triplo being more rarely used for singles and triples. The single shot is the traditional shot size, being the maximum that could easily be pulled on a lever machine. Single baskets are sharply tapered or stepped down in diameter to provide comparable depth to the double baskets and, therefore, comparable resistance to water pressure. Most double baskets are gently tapered (the "Faema model"), while others, such as the La Marzocco, have straight sides. Triple baskets are normally straight-sided. Portafilters will often come with two spouts, usually closely spaced, and a double-size basket. Each spout can optionally dispense into a separate cup, yielding two solo-size (but doppio-brewed) shots, or into a single cup (hence the close spacing). True solo shots are rare, with a single shot in a café generally being half of a doppio shot. In espresso-based drinks in America, particularly larger milk-based drinks, a drink with three or four shots of espresso will be called a "triple" or "quad", respectively.

The length of the shot can be ristretto (or stretto) (reduced), normale or standard (normal), or lungo (long):[50] these may correspond to a smaller or larger drink with the same amount of ground coffee and same level of extraction or to different length of extraction. Proportions vary, and the volume (and low density) of crema makes volume-based comparisons difficult (precise measurement uses the mass of the drink). Typically, ristretto is half the volume of normale, and lungo is double to triple the normale volume. For a double shot (14 grams of dry coffee), a normale uses about 60 ml of water. A double ristretto, a common form associated with espresso, uses half the amount of water, about 30 ml. Ristretto, normale, and lungo may not simply be the same shot stopped at different times (which could result in an under- or over-extracted shot), but have the grind adjusted (finer for ristretto, coarser for lungo) to achieve the target volume.[citation needed] A significantly longer shot is the caffè crema, which is longer than a lungo, ranging in size from 120–240 ml (4.2–8.4 imp fl oz; 4.1–8.1 US fl oz), and brewed in the same way, with a coarser grind. Passing too much water through the ground coffee can add other, potentially unpleasant flavors to the espresso.[citation needed]


Main article: espresso machine

A home espresso machine

Home espresso machines have increased in popularity with the general rise of interest in espresso. Today, a wide range of home espresso equipment can be found in kitchen and appliance stores, online vendors, and department stores. The first espresso machine for home use was the Gaggia Gilda.[51] Soon afterwards, similar machines such as the Faema Faemina, FE-AR La Peppina, and VAM Caravel followed suit, with similar form factors and operational principles.[52] These machines still have a small but dedicated share of fans. Until the advent of the first small electrical pump-based espresso machines, such as the Gaggia Baby and Quickmill 810, home espresso machines were not widely adopted. In recent years, the increased availability of convenient countertop fully automatic home espresso makers and pod-based espresso serving systems has increased the quantity of espresso consumed at home. The popularity of home espresso making parallels the increase of home coffee roasting. Some amateurs pursue both home roasting coffee and making espresso.


In a 100 ml (grams, 3.5 oz) reference amount, espresso has significant levels of dietary mineral magnesium, the B vitamins niacin and riboflavin, and around 212 mg of caffeine per 100 grams of liquid brewed coffee (table).

Espresso-based drinks

Main article: List of coffee drinks § Espresso

In addition to being served alone, espresso is frequently blended, notably with milk—either steamed (without significant foam), wet foamed ("microfoam"), or dry foamed—and with hot water. Notable milk-based espresso drinks, from smallest to largest, include macchiato, cappuccino, flat white, and latte. Other milk and espresso combinations include latte macchiato, cortado, and galão, which are made primarily with steamed milk, with little or no foam. Espresso and water combinations include americano and long black. Other combinations include batch-brewed coffee with espresso, sometimes called "red eye" or "shot in the dark".[53]

See also

Media related to Espresso at Wikimedia Commons The dictionary definition of espresso at Wiktionary


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