A World of Coffee: #2. Espresso

The perfect espresso. The heart of coffee drinks. This, if anything, is a true art.

Espresso is ground much more finely than other coffee and is particularly strong. Espresso can also be referred to as liquid motivation or the morning eye opener, and smells like waking up. I decided to strike it off my list now, as it is the base for many different drinks including lattes, and effectively a doorway to caffeinated wonders. With that espresso made, I can go forth and make oodles more coffee creations.

I’m writing this just after finishing my espresso(s) and somehow my fingers seem to be racing across the keyboard with unusual vigour.

I’ll throw in a little background here for any interested souls. The preparation of espresso uses a technique of pressure, steaming water through the grinds to drizzle out in a concentrated little cup of coffee. One of the most definitive characteristics of espresso is the uniform layer of crema – foam – on top. The beginnings of the modern espresso machines can be accredited to an Italian man, Luigi Bezzara, just as the 20th century rolled in. Since then, they have gotten bigger and bigger, and frankly, rather beautiful in quite an intimidating way. A genuinely good quality machine will not be affordable. Harsh reality. A functioning one will not be entirely unaffordable. This is what I am fortunate enough to own.

tamped down
tamped down

So. I get my espresso, fill the handle with it, and tamp (press) it down tight. Using fresh water and clean equipment, you need to let the water through generally for 16-30 seconds. Too long and it goes awfully bitter and void of colour. Too short and there is no crema. The exact number of seconds depends on the tightness of tamping and the roughness of the grind. A very fine grind and relatively light tamping for me meant 18 seconds drizzle. I can’t report any tragedies along the way because I’m very used to this process – hard not to be, working as a barista.


Delicious, if I may say so myself.



P.S. Spoilers! Next week: Bring it on, espresso con melya.


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