Espresso – that thick, bold Italian-style coffee – got its name thanks to the technology used to make the dark, rich brew, which is “pressed out” and tailor made ‘pronto’ for its consumer. Espresso is also the base ingredient for other popular coffee beverages such as cappuccino, café latte and macchiato, has come a long way since its invention in Italy sometime around the 1900s. So let’s toast the rise of this complex and concentrated concoction with — what else? – a shot of espresso as we mark National Espresso Day on November 23.
The Origins of Espresso
Espresso made its debut in Italy in the early 20th century, although coffee was already very much a part of Italian life for centuries. Espresso was invented by Luigi Bezzera, the owner of a manufacturing plant who wanted to speed up the time it took to make coffee. Bezzera discovered that adding steam pressure to the process produced a stronger, more robust cup of coffee. This machine used in this new quick-brew process was named the Fast Coffee Machine. The beverage produced by the machine would eventually become known as espresso, which means fast in Italian. In 1905, Desidero Pavoni purchased the rights to the machine from Bezzera and patented the machine’s design. It is due to Pavoni’s marketing genius that espresso grew in popularity.
In the early 1940s, Achille Gaggia created a piston-based espresso machine that improved the taste by eliminating the burnt flavor and giving espresso a thicker consistency. Initially for professional use in coffee bars, the espresso machine gradually became available for use at home.
Anatomy of Espresso
Any coffee bean or roast level can be used to make espresso. Espresso is made by forcing pressurized hot water through finely ground coffee to create a concentrated coffee topped with a delicate foam, called a crema.
The crema should be thin and foamy with a golden-brown and sometimes slightly reddish color. The crema has a sweet flavor as it contains the espresso’s concentrated sugars and oils. The body is the middle layer and it is typically caramel-brown in color. The bottom of an espresso, known as the heart, should have a deep brown tone. The heart contains the bitterness that provides a balance to the sweetness of the crema.
While there is no universal standard in how to make the perfect espresso, it is often thought that the quality of the ultimate espresso comes from the four Ms:
Macinazione – correct grinding of the coffee bean
Macchina – the espresso machine
Miscela – the coffee blend
Mano – the skilled hand of the person making the coffee
How to Celebrate
It’s easy and fun to celebrate National Espresso Day if you’re a lover of espresso. If you have an espresso machine, make some at home and enjoy it straight or with foamed milk for a cappuccino. Chocolate and espresso are an excellent combo, so look for fun recipes that include espresso, like this decadent espresso chocolate cheesecake. Or if you don’t want to make your own espresso, visit your favorite local coffee shop or bakery – this author’s favorite place for espresso in New Braunfels is 2Tarts Bakery downtown.
And Speaking of Coffee…
Because the wellness of our residents is our top priority at EdenHill Communities, we aim to make their home a welcoming environment where all of our residents feel like their voice is heard. That’s why Interim CEO, Karl Hittle, frequently meets with Independent Living residents in a special event we call Koffee with Karl. At this event, we welcome residents to ask questions, bring up concerns, and give suggestions, all over a friendly cup of coffee.
We have lots of fun events happening every day at EdenHill. To see our full calendar of events, click here.
Adapted from nationalespressoday.com