Espresso is coffee of Italian origin.
It is a concentrated, often thick coffee beverage with a layer of dense foam (crema) whose ingredients are exclusively coffee and water.
Espresso is created with a machine that forces hot water through a basket of tightly packed, finely-ground coffee for a limited amount of time at very high pressure.
It is not a specific bean, bean blend, or roast level. Any bean or roasting level can be used to produce authentic espresso.
The act of producing a shot of espresso is often termed “pulling” a shot, originating from lever espresso machines, which require pulling down a handle attached to a spring-loaded piston, forcing hot water through the coffee at high pressure.
Today, however, it is more common for the pressure to be generated by an electric pump.
Like many great inventions, espresso was born out of necessity. Its inventor simply wanted to have his coffee faster and went about finding a way to quicken the brewing process.
The first machine for making espresso was built and patented in 1884 by Angelo Moriondo of Turin, Italy.
In 1903, the patent was bought by Desiderio Pavoni, who founded the La Pavoni company and began to produce the machine industrially (one a day) in a small workshop in Via Parini in Milan.
The popularity of espresso developed in various ways.
In Italy, the rise of espresso consumption was associated with urbanization, espresso bars providing a place for socializing.
Further, coffee prices were controlled by local authorities, provided the coffee was consumed standing up, encouraging the “stand at a bar” culture.
Espresso is arguably the first example of “fast food,” its very name meaning speed.
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.
In the United Kingdom, espresso grew in popularity among youth in the 1950s, who felt more welcome in the coffee shops than in pubs.
A barista is a person, usually a coffeehouse employee, who prepares and serves espresso-based coffee drinks. In 1938, the first record of the word “barista” emerged. Before that time, the term “barman” appears to have been the fashionable word. However, with the success of Mussolini and the Fascist movement came a nationalist campaign to “Italianise” common words. Barman, considered too American, was substituted for barista, a more Italian-sounding word. In that way, espresso was further entwined with the Italian identity.
The most espressos made in one hour by a team is 21,000 and was achieved by Nestlé Portugal (Portugal) in Carvalhal, Portugal, on 17 February 2017. The espressos were prepared by a team of 250 people.
The fastest espresso machine is the ‘Swiss Espresso Extractor’, designed and built by A. Schurr, J. Lüönd, A. Lütold (all Switzerland) and SK tec SA. It produced 11.5 liters (3 US gal) of espresso coffee in one minute on 26 September 2008.
The largest espresso machine in the world, unveiled on 20 September 2004, was built on Discovery Channel’s BIG! television show and measures 3.27 m (10 ft 9.25 in) tall, 2.48 m (8 ft 2 in) wide and 3.07 m (10 ft 1.5 in) long. The espresso machine was unveiled at the University of Southern California campus in Los Angeles. It can hold 492 liters (108.2 gal / 130 US gal) of water and filter 32.6 kg (72 lb) of coffee in one go. It can serve 3,820 shots of double espresso.
National Espresso Day is observed annually on November 23.
As of 2015 Astronauts on the International Space Station can enjoy ‘out-of-this-world’ espresso thanks to an experimental coffee machine.
It takes around 50 coffee beans to make amount of ground coffee for one shot of espresso.