The world of coffee can get pretty complex, and it’s easy to get mixed up on the basics. We’re here to clear up a very common confusion: the difference between “coffee” and “espresso.”

“Espresso” simply means “pressed out” – it’s finely ground coffee that is brewed quickly under pressure, usually served as a “shot” in a small cup or demitasse, or mixed with milk into a specialty drink. A lot of folks think that espresso is made from a special kind of coffee bean, but any variety coffee can be turned into an espresso. Some roasters make blends or single-origins designed for this method, roasting them a certain way to get specific flavors or body when brewed on an espresso machine.

The espresso brewing method was invented in the late 1800s in Italy (of course). Early espresso machines were manual, featuring a lever to help apply the necessary pressure to brew. Traditionally, espresso shots were taken immediately after brewing, with the customer standing at the bar for a quick sip before continuing with their day. Espresso bars provided a place for people to meet and mingle, as well as take a small pause and enjoy a small, hot, energizing drink during their hectic day.

When espresso caught on in the United States in the mid-1900s, milk-based espresso beverages became wildly popular, starting with the most famous: the cappuccino. Something about the strong coffee flavor and heavier body of espresso pairs beautilfully with milk, and the foam just adds to the luxurious experience. Nowadays, many casual coffee lovers are drinking espresso every day in the form of lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, etc., without even realizing it.

Looking to make espresso at home? Check our espresso gear below.

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  1. This is so helpful. This type of post is exactly what I need. I’d like to print it out and put it into a coffee binder, but, if you guys have a product, just saying. Also, is it weird that I’m happy when the clips I use to seal my coffee bags match the color on the label, like with spring organics, green, red, blue for vert, rouge, bleu, respectively – just some stocking stuffer ideas, hostess gifts, etc.

    Also, if we have a preference of one spring organic over the other two, how to we figure out our coffee profile, match the tasting notes to the SCAA wheel?

  2. The Nizza and Savoia make an awesome italian style espresso. Also love the fact that La Colombe is one of the very few places in all of NYC that you can actually get a proper single shot. Cant explain how angry it makes me when a bar only pulls double shots … or even triple…its ridiculous … siete bravissimi!

  3. Please tell us about the amount of water and coffee to use. Most coffee pots show six ounces as the amount for a cup. But most instructions I’ve seen call 8 ounces a cup. Help!

    1. Hey there, well it totally depends on the drink you’re making, what kind of coffee you’re using, etc. We serve cappuccinos in 6oz cups and lattes in 8oz cups.

  4. Fratello, If you think because you have daddy’s money and spent a time in Europa you can talk about coffee. You are still drinking Coca-Cola if you walking with a plastic cup. You are far from from real coffee my bro’

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