For many coffee drinkers, espresso is the ultimate expression of coffee perfection. Even though it’s widely consumed in the United States and across the world, much confusion exists about what it really is.
Some of the most common questions we get at the Kauai Coffee Visitor Center and through our social media pages are, “What kind of espresso do you have?” and “Where is your espresso?” In this guide, we take a deep dive into what espresso is, what it is not, and how you can make it at home with your favorite Kauai Coffee.
What is espresso?
To define what it is, we need to start with what it is not. Espresso is not a specific type of coffee, bean, or grind. Espresso is a coffee preparation that uses a machine to force hot water through a container of tightly packed, finely ground coffee at a high level of pressure.
The resulting beverage is a concentrated coffee that has a thicker and smoother mouthfeel than coffee prepared with other methods. It is also characterized by a dense layer of foam called crema that sits on top of the resulting beverage. The crema is created when air bubbles formed by forcing hot water through the tightly packed coffee mix with the soluble oils that the ground beans contain.
What kind of coffee can be used to prepare it?
Because espresso is a type of coffee preparation, you can use any of your favorite beans to make espresso at home. Part of the fun of learning a new brewing method is experimenting with what you already love. However, do use a fine grind and a roast that will taste great when met with high heat and pressure.
While you can use any roast type to prepare an espresso, you may see espresso roasts on the grocery store shelf and at your specialty coffee shop. These are coffees that each roaster or coffee producer has roasted in a way they believe will taste best when prepared as espresso. Our Poipu Estate Espresso Roast is a dark roast with a delicate but deep aroma and a well-rounded, full-body that adds to the buttery mouthfeel of an espresso.
Kauai Coffee for espresso
You can use any of your favorite Kauai Coffee to make espresso at home. If you purchase whole beans, make sure to grind them finely before you brew. If you don’t have a coffee grinder at home, select ‘Espresso Grind’ when you add your Kauai Coffee products to your online shopping cart and we’ll grind for you.
Here are a few of our favorite beans and tools to use to create the perfect espresso at home! Shop for 100% Kauai Coffee online now. Worldwide shipping is available.
- Poipu Estate Espresso Roast
- Kauai Blue Mountain
- Kauai Coffee Peaberry
- AeroPress Coffee Maker
- Kauai Coffee Espresso Cup
What can I make with espresso?
Espresso has more caffeine per unit volume than coffee brewed with other methods because more coffee solids are present in the final product. Because of this, espresso is served in small portions often called shots and provides the coffee foundation for many popular coffee beverages, including cappuccinos, lattes, mochas, flat-whites, macchiatos, and americanos. The only difference in these beverages is the ratio of coffee to milk, milk foam, or water.
History and “Steam machinery for instantaneous confection of coffee beverage”
Coffee houses originated as early as the 15th century in Mecca, the Arabian Peninsula, and Ottoman Empire, spreading to Istanbul by the 16th century. By the 19th century, café culture was flourishing across Europe. From the coffee houses of Vienna to the chic cafes of Paris and Venice, coffee shops have served as cultural crossroads and social gathering spaces for centuries.
One reason for the spread of café culture and lingering around coffee houses was that coffee brewing took a long time before introducing steam-powered machinery to the process. The earliest iteration of the espresso machine as we know it today can be traced back to Turin, Italy, where inventor Angelo Moriondo patented the “new steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous confection of coffee beverage” in 1884. Unlike today’s machines, Moriondo’s version brewed in bulk instead of single servings.
By the early 20th century, Italian manufacturers Luigi Bezzerra and Desiderio Pavoni made improvements to Moriondo’s design and are credited with the creation of the single-shot espresso maker as we know it today. Espresso and quick-serving, standing espresso bars became popular across Italy and eventually spread to the United States through Italian-American immigrant communities in New York, Boston, and San Francisco.
How to make espresso at home
There are a variety of machines and tools you can use to create a delicious espresso at home. Espresso machines have a wide range of sizes and price tags, so finding the best one will take some time and research.
If you’d like to try making espresso at home without investing in an at-home machine, try a Moka Pot or Aeropress. Both of these tools allow you to make espresso at home with tools you already have like a stovetop or kettle.