Espresso has become a staple of modern coffee drinking. Originally, espresso was designed as a way to quickly consume the amount of caffeine in a full cup of coffee by pouring hot water over pressure-packed, ground coffee beans.
Brewing espresso should take no more than a minute with the proper machine, but espresso is not just about the brewing process. Drinking espresso is an experience for most people, whether that is sipping it at the end of a night out, taking espresso shots to get your day started, or mixing it with milk to create a latte.
Espresso can be ordered as a single, double, or triple shot.
- A single is 1 ounce
- A double is 2 ounces
- A triple is 3 ounces
*A single, or double are the most commonly ordered sizes.
A double is also called a doppio, a triple a triplo, and the rare, mostly found in the United States, a quadruple shot is referred to as a quad. Make sure you clarify which size you would like when ordering your espresso.
While waiting for your espresso, take a moment to take in your surroundings. The smell of fresh coffee and steamed milk, the atmosphere of the cafe or restaurant you are in, and the people around you can all contribute to your espresso experience.
To drink espresso like a true coffee connoisseur, you should follow these steps.
Before Your First Sip
Before your espresso is served, you should take a few sips of water to cleanse your pallet and be able to taste the richness of what you are about to drink.
A freshly brewed espresso should have a foam, called a “crema” on the top. This layer is oxygenated bubbles that make the espresso appear as though it has a layer of reddish, foamy milk on it.
This is from the high-pressure brewing of the espresso, as well as the steam released from the near-boiling water. If you want, you can scrape this layer off as it does not add anything to the espresso, and in fact, some say it has an unpleasant taste. Espresso experts recommend scraping the crema off with a spoon before sipping.
Next, you will want to give your espresso a stir. Like most drinks that have sat for more than a minute, the heavy and flavorful components of espresso will likely sink to the bottom in the time it takes the barista to bring it from the espresso machine to your table.
Give the espresso a stir to make sure the espresso has an even taste and texture throughout the shot. It should have a texture almost like warm, liquid honey when properly stirred and be a deep, rich brown in color.
Once your espresso has been stirred and the crema has been scraped off, feel free to add a bit of sugar to your espresso if you would like to cut the bitterness of the pure coffee. If the coffee is fresh and you want to taste the full flavors of the pure espresso shot, leave the sugar out.
Now, you are ready to sip your espresso. A single shot of espresso is meant to be drunk in no more than one or two sips. Let the full flavors of the espresso coat your tongue and enjoy the mix of rich coffee flavors with the heat from the brewing process.
Let the flavors ruminate in your mouth and enjoy the quick burst of caffeine as you take it in. If you stirred, each sip should taste even and flavorful, giving you the full, pure espresso experience.
Espresso Based Alternatives
If you are not interested in drinking straight espresso, there are many different espresso-based drinks to choose from. An Americano is a shot of espresso mixed with hot water, creating a beverage that has the rich taste, and high caffeine level, of a shot of espresso with the size and warmth of a cup of coffee.
A cappuccino is a single or double shot of espresso with a touch of frothed, foamy milk on top. A macchiato is a single shot of espresso with warm, steamed milk poured over the top of the espresso shot. A latte, one of the most popular espresso-based drinks, is a shot or two of espresso with a large amount of steamed milk poured in.
A latte should have a high milk to coffee ratio to take the bitterness of the espresso almost entirely out of the drink.
Each of these drinks can be mixed with a variety of flavor shots, sweeteners, and milks to create a truly unique beverage each time you drink. One could visit the same coffee shop every single day and get a different type of espresso drink each day. The possibilities for drinking espresso are truly endless and always evolving.
If you are looking for a traditional espresso drinking experience, visit a true coffee shop with a properly trained barista where you can truly appreciate the art of espresso brewing. The perfectly temperate water, properly pressurized coffee beans, and flawlessly timed brewing will create an espresso experience like nothing you have experienced before.