The Espresso


The word ‘espresso’ is Italian; it refers to a type of coffee.


In English, ‘espresso’ translates as ‘expressed’. However, the word ‘espresso’ is a commonly used and accepted word in the English language, used to refer to espresso coffee.


Espresso was invented in 1903 by Luigi Bezzera, the owner of a manufacturing business.  Mr. Bezzera longed to find a way to brew coffee much faster.  Wasting some time after work one day, he added pressure to the coffee brewing process, reducing brewing time.  The machine that he later introduced was termed the “Fast Coffee Machine”, which is where the word “espresso” comes from…espresso means “fast” in Italian!  Not only did his machine reduce brewing time, it made a better cup of coffee.  The quick brewing time allowed the best qualities of the bean to be extracted, avoiding some of the unfavorable qualities associated with over-extraction.  Luigi Bezzera was not at all successful in marketing the machine, and he had no money.

Desidero Pavoni bought the rights to the espresso machine patent in 1905 and successfully introduced espresso to the Italian market.  Photographs from the turn of the century depict Italian Klosks serving “CAFE ESPRESSO – LA PAVONI”.  This was a very common site in Italy.  Desidero Pavoni changed the way Italians drink coffee.
Since 1905, there has been a constant expansion of the coffee market for espresso based drinks.


Coffee beans and espresso beans are slightly different.  The espresso bean is a blend of several types of coffee beans from different countries around the world.  The beans are roasted until they are dark and oily-looking.  The two main differences between coffee and espresso are the fineness of the grind and the brewing time.  The brewing time for espresso is much shorter, made possible by espresso machines that generate up to 15 atmospheres of pressure to force hot water through the ground coffee.


When the espresso is placed into a small filtered basket, it is tightly packed with about 40lbs of pressure.  Coffee is loose grinds and not packed at all.  When the espresso liquid comes out, it is a dark brown color and slightly thick liquid with a small amount of crema on top.  ( Crema is a foam similar to that found on beer.)  Also, there are many factors in making the perfect shot of espresso.  As mentioned above, the temperature and pressure of the water, the fineness of the ground coffee, and how tightly it is packed into the filter basket are just a few.


Espresso is the fastest growing method of making coffee. All the other methods involve a ‘natural’ form of infusion, and for a small cost, you can have a system that will make acceptable coffee…and quickly.  High quality espresso is more expensive to make because extracting the greatest amount of flavour from the bean requires a high level of pressure.




Barista: The person who operates the machinery and makes drinks.


Espresso Potential: A measure of the perfection of an espresso.


La Macinadosatore: The grind and dose.


Latte Art: Technique performed to create a smooth and sweet milk that can be poured into heart and flower patterns.


Mano: The skilled hand of the barista.


Macinazione: The correct grinding of a coffee blend.


Miscela: The coffee blend.


Macchina: The espresso machine.


Porta-filter: The entire assembly of the handle, the basket, and the spouts.  The porta-filter is always made of metal.


Steam Wand: Used to heat and froth milk.


Tray: Used to catch excess water, to pour out drinks, etc.  It should empty into a drain.