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What Is Espresso?

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The Son of a Barista Espresso Guide

If your only relationship to coffee has been with a jar of instant powder or a burned pot of liquid from your local diner, you might be confused as to what exactly espresso is, and — dio non voglia (God forbid!) — have been wrongly using the misnomer “expresso”. Italians take their espresso seriously, and they have perfected it by using the precise amount of pressure to force water through the fine coffee grounds, birthing a drink so beloved that about 95% of adults in Italy drink it multiple times a day. 

We created this guide to answer all of your espresso questions, and to show you how to make the perfect Italian espresso in the comfort of your own home. And who knows — maybe you’ll find yourself walking along the Piazza San Marco in Italy one afternoon, where you can comfortably walk up to a cafe bar and exclaim, Scusi, one espresso per favore, just like a local.

What Is Espresso?

The Bean

Which came first? The espresso or the bean? 

Unlike the chicken or the egg debate, we know the bean comes first. And in order to have a great espresso experience, you have to start with a high quality bean. 

The vast majority of coffee beans fall into two categories: the Arabica bean and the Robusta bean. Both bean species are cultivated and grown in Africa, and Asia, and Latin America. There are many varieties, forms, and subtypes of each bean, and differences in the soil, rainfall, and climate, further increase this diversity.

The beans used in Son of a Barista’s Puro pod are single origin and are 100% Arabica beans from Sidamo, Ethiopia. Being 100% Arabica beans from a single origin gives the Puro pod a strong aroma, thick crema and notes of chocolate.

If you want to try a blend of the two main bean species, Arabica and Robusta, Son of a Barista’s Cremoso pod would be a perfect place to start. The Cremoso pod is a blend of 50% Arabica from Colombia and 50% Robusta from Vietnam. This is the typical blend you would sip on a sidewalk cafe in the streets of Italy. The combination of the two bean species blended together gives the Cremoso pod a delicate taste with a strong caffeine kick to make anyone exclaim Mamma Mia, that’s good! 

Son of a Barista uses only organic beans in its coffee pods which makes an immense difference for the final taste experience.  

What Is Espresso?

Roasting

After the bean is removed from the plant, one of the most important aspects of espresso is the roasting process.

Roasting is a heat process that turns coffee into the fragrant, dark brown beans we know and love. Roasting brings out the aroma and flavor that is locked inside the green coffee beans. Beans are stored green, a state in which they can be kept without loss of quality or taste. A green bean has none of the characteristics of a roasted bean — it’s soft and spongy to the bite, and smells grassy.

Roasting causes chemical changes to take place as the beans are rapidly brought to very high temperatures. When they reach the peak of perfection, they are quickly cooled to stop the process. Roasted beans smell like coffee, and weigh less because the moisture has been roasted out. They are crunchy to the bite, ready to be ground and brewed. 

Brewing Method

When is espresso officially espresso? It is in the way it is brewed. 

Espresso machines pressurize and shoot near boiling water through the finely packed espresso, with a very exacting timing of the “pull” in order to get the shot just right. With our Son of a Barista machines and pods, we’ve done all of the hard work for you. And we will put it up against the finest Italian espresso any day.

Water Pressure

You need the correct amount of pressure to shoot water through the finely packed espresso, out of its pod, and into your cup. Son of a Barista’s FREE coffee machine is designed to do just that! At a 19 bar pressure, the water pump pushes water through the espresso to make an authentic Italian approved espresso. 

The lever of an espresso machine is the switch for pure coffee magic. The high pressure is not just the cornerstone of quick brewing, it also helps develop the crema and disperse rich coffee oils into the final espresso shot.

Temperature

What is espresso without the right temperature? Temperature is paramount when making a perfect Italian espresso. If the temperature is too low, the flavor extraction suffers. If the temperature is too high, your espresso will get burned. 

Making sure that the water pressure and temperature of your espresso is just right, can be a real science, and a lot of work. And even then, it doesn’t always come out right — especially when attempting this before you’ve even sipped your first morning espresso. We feel you! 

Son of a Barista’s coffee machine is made to keep the water at a constant temperature. At 93°C (199.4°F) to be precise. This is the exact temperature needed to extract the caffeine without ruining the coffee so that you are certain to get your precise caffeine fix on every shot. 

What Is Espresso?

Taste

Espresso is not made with a filter which means that your espresso cup will be filled with flavor-filled oils that have made their way out of the espresso machine without getting caught in a filter. Hooray! These flavor-filled oils are what gives espresso a bolder flavor because they do not get stuck in the filter like oils do when brewing drip coffee. 

Crema

What is espresso without crema? Ask an Italian, and they would say that it’s the American equivalent of peanut butter without jelly. 

The perfect shot of espresso would be nothing without a top layer of lush foam called crema. Crema is the visual indicator of a well-extracted shot of espresso. 

Crema is made when pressurized water is forced into the espresso in its espresso pod. The exposure to pressure degasses the bean, which means carbon dioxide trapped from the roasting process escapes. Bicarbonate ions in the water undergo a chemical reaction from the sudden exposure to an evolving pH of the coffee cake. The sudden change from a high-pressure environment (the machine) to a low-pressure environment (the cup) allows the carbon dioxide to break through the espresso cell walls and bubble. All these forces come together to create the top layer of the espresso shot. 

Son of a Barista’s coffee machine wouldn’t be anything without its beloved espresso pod, and together they make the perfect crema on top of your espresso. 

We recommend you drink your espresso immediately after brewing to get all the benefits of the lush and fluffy crema. Italians like to move through life slowly, enjoying each moment. But when it comes to their espresso, they know that waiting too long would deny them the enjoyment of the hot and creamy shot. It is common to see Italians standing at coffee bars, and tossing back the shot, in order to enjoy it at its peak. Espresso actually means expressed in Italian and was made for the express purpose of drinking immediately after brewing. 

Benefits Of Espresso

Strengthens long time memory

It has been shown that drinking espresso can help with your memory. Not only does it aid in your brain’s retention of stored information, it also can be helpful in recalling that information.

Improves Concentration

Drinking espresso gives you a boost of energy. This energy can make it a lot easier for your brain to focus on your day-to-day responsibilities. Espresso kick starts the dopamine in your brain, helping to aid in concentration.

High On Antioxidants

Coffee has been found to be full of a wide variety of antioxidants. Espresso is like a small concentrated punch of all of those good antioxidants in a tasty package.

Boost Physical Activity

Drinking an espresso right before beginning physical activity can increase your performance. Whether it’s a sporting event or your daily workout, espresso can be the right companion to help you out.

Low In Calories

A nice quality of espresso is the fact that you can enjoy the benefits without needing to worry about excessive calorie intake. Even the perfect shot of espresso can be both beneficial and guilt-free.

Lower Risk Of Strokes

A study has found that drinking espresso helps to reduce women’s risk of having a stroke. The more the patient drank, the lower the risk went. Those who drank very little or nothing at all had a higher risk of having a stroke.

Aids In Weight Loss

Because espresso can help with your physical performance, it makes daily workouts less intense. It can push you to do more and work harder than ever before. It also helps in preventing any muscle soreness that comes alongside a tougher workout.

Improves Digestion

A cup of espresso can help your digestive cycle get moving alongside you. If you have trouble with digestion, try adding espresso to your routine.

Reduces Chance Of Diabetes

In a world where diabetes is becoming more common, it can be a relief to find that espresso can help reduce the risk of diabetes. It also is a much healthier choice than the normal types of coffee that many people drink throughout the day. Instead of loading up with sugars and creams, espresso can be enjoyed as is, leaving out those extra calories and fats.

Improves Your Mood

The caffeine in an espresso is a powerful stimulant. This kind of stimulant can help to clear up any cloudy moods that are bringing you down throughout the day. It can get your day going in a much brighter direction.

What Is Espresso?

Espresso Based Drinks

Cappuccino

Two ounces of espresso topped with two ounces of steamed milk and two ounces of foamed milk

Americano

2/3 water and 1/3 espresso. The water offsets the strength of the espresso without killing any of its delicious flavors. 

Affogato

Two ounces of espresso and three ounces of vanilla ice cream. 

Mocha

Two ounces of espresso, 1.5 ounces of chocolate, and one ounce of steamed milk

Café Con Hielo

This is the iced coffee version of espresso. It’s simply 1.5 ounces of espresso served over ice. 

Flat White

Two ounces of espresso and four ounces of steamed milk

Latte

Two ounces of espresso and ten ounces of steamed milk. It’s topped with the tiniest hint of foamed milk.

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