Skip to main content
Coffee Types

What Is Espresso Coffee?

Espresso boasts of being one of the most popular coffee drinks today. Espresso comprises a highly concentrated coffee brew that’s served in shots.

Espresso is typically used as a base for several coffee drinks. Although it’s made from coffee beans just like regular coffee, it’s thicker, stronger, and richer in caffeine than regular coffee.

Since it’s served in relatively smaller amounts than regular coffee, its caffeine content is lower per serving.

espresso coffee shots.

Quick Facts about Espresso

  • Innovated in Italy
  • Brewed at a temperature of 190 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Its main ingredient is ground coffee
  • Has a caffeine content of between 29 to 100 milligrams per shot

Espresso Explained

Espresso comes as a concentrated and full-flavored coffee drink that’s served in relatively small servings known as shots. It’s brewed with an espresso maker by forcing hot water under high pressure through fine grounds. The resultant brew is a strong liquid that’s topped with crema. The crema is a brownish foam that’s formed when bubbles mix with soluble oils from fine grounds. The crema introduces a lingering aftertaste and rich flavor to the brew.

Espresso is prepared using similar coffee beans as regular coffee. The beans are grown, harvested, processed, and even roasted using the same process. Thus, there’re no special coffee beans for espresso. Any single-origin coffee and roast are ideal for making espresso. The only difference between espresso and regular coffee is the grind size and brewing process.

Espresso is best brewed with fine grounds in a coffee maker known as an espresso maker or espresso machine. The resultant brew is an espresso shot that’s enjoyed in its original form or used as a base for making several types of espresso drinks such as Americano and cappuccino.

A shot of espresso features similar flavors as regular coffee. However, espresso flavors are lightly sweet, toasty, bitter, and acidic. The flavor profile of espresso may vary based on the kind of coffee roast used. Also, espresso has a creamier and thicker texture than regular coffee.

Benefits of Drinking Espresso

Although consuming an excessive amount of caffeine comes with some health risks, drinking espresso moderately comes with numerous health benefits including:

  1. Brain health

Consuming espresso may assist in lowering the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Several studies focusing on the link between caffeine consumption and brain health find that taking espresso or coffee regularly but in moderate amounts lowers the risk of cognitive impairment.

  1. Liver health

Several studies link regular but moderate coffee consumption to a lower likelihood of cirrhosis, which is a liver condition that often results from excessive consumption of alcohol.

  1. Heart health

Several studies link moderate caffeine intake to improved cell functionality. As a result, it prevents conditions such as heart disease. Research shows that individuals who consume coffee regularly have a lower risk of dying from heart disease by 19 percent.

Uses of Espresso

Espresso is highly loved in Italy, its place of origin. Italians often enjoy it plain and fresh from an espresso maker. Espresso is served in shots using special cups known as demitasse cups. Demitasse cups are available in various sizes, including a 1-ounce shot that gives an intense and quick energy boost. Espresso is also served in a double shot/doppio (2-ounce demitasse). Some coffeehouses serve espresso in purely double shots to maintain consistent quality.

It’s also served in a serving known as long. An espresso long shot (also known as lungo) is prepared using a similar amount of ground coffee but with twice the water volume. Although espresso can be taken at any time of the day, it’s popularly taken during the morning rush and after meals.

Espresso is used to prepare several popular coffee drinks such as:

  • Caffé latte– Comprises a double espresso shot topped with some steamed milk.
  • Red-eye- Comprises a blend of an espresso shot and filtered coffee.
  • Caffé Americano– Comprises a blend of hot water and espresso shot.
  • Cappuccino– Comprises an espresso shot topped with frothed and steamed milk.

Best Way of Drinking Espresso

Although espresso is serving in a shot, it’s not supposed to be consumed in one gulp. Espresso is supposed to be drunk in small, slow sips. That way, you’ll enjoy its rich, full flavor. Although most people enjoy espresso in its plain form, you can add a sweetener of your choice such as sugar. Sometimes, espresso is served with biscuits such as biscotti.

Amount of Caffeine in Espresso

Although espresso is known to be rich in caffeine, the exact caffeine content depends on the amount of espresso you consume. Since espresso is served in very small cups, it often has a lower caffeine content than regular coffee, which is served in larger cups. However, double, triple, and mixed espresso drinks such as red-eye may increase the caffeine content significantly.

Generally, a single espresso shot contains a caffeine content of between 29 – 100 milligrams and about 75 milligrams on average. A double espresso shot contains a caffeine content of between 58 – 185 milligrams. In comparison, a standard drip coffee serving contains a caffeine content of about 80 – 200 milligrams.

Since it’s possible to brew espresso from any coffee variety, its acidity varies based on the specific roast level used. Essentially, lighter roast coffee is more acidic than darker roast coffee. The reason behind this is that darker roast hides the natural acidity of coffee beans. Most coffeehouses that offer espresso brew it with darker roasts, thereby making the brew less acidic when compared to some regular coffees.

Buying and Storing Coffee Beans

To brew the best-tasting espresso, consider buying top-quality and freshly roasted coffee beans. You can buy coffee beans from a local specialty grocer or coffee shop. Since the espresso brewing process extracts a lot of flavor from ground coffee, consider choosing the best-quality beans and roast. Avoid buying cheap brands.

Also, if you prefer buying espresso from a local coffee shop, consider visiting a well-established shop to stand better chances of getting the best espresso brew. A well-established coffee shop is more likely to use top-quality and fresh beans. Also, they’re more likely to have experienced baristas.

If you’re buying whole coffee beans or pre-ground coffee to brew espresso at home, store them in an airtight, opaque, and thick container. The container should be kept in a dark and place. Never store coffee in a freezer, unless you’re planning to store an entire bag and use it in one brewing cycle. If you remove an entire bag of frozen coffee beans to only remove a few beans and freeze the remaining ones again, they’ll attract moisture that’ll suck out important flavors. If the beans come in a re-sealable foil bag, store them in their original packaging rather than switching them into another container.

After opening a bag of coffee beans, use the beans within two weeks. You’ll also get the best-tasting espresso by grinding whole beans just when you’re about to brew espresso rather than using pre-ground coffee beans.


There’re several recipes for making classic espresso drinks, cocktails, and dessert drinks including espresso macchiato, Affogato, flat white, and triple espresso martini among others.


Related Articles

Does Espresso Have More Caffeine Than Coffee?

Difference between Coffee and Espresso