What Is Espresso?

What Is Espresso?

The humble espresso.

Invented at the turn of the twentieth century, espresso coffee is the basis of almost all coffee that we drink in Australia. The humble long black, flat white, and latte all owe their enduring popularity to that perfect base ingredient: the espresso.

So what actually is an espresso and how do espresso machines work to produce such a beautiful, flavoursome, energetic shot of coffee.

Read on to find out.

Espresso: A History.

Famously Italian, espresso literally means ‘expressed’ — that is, pressed on or through. The name of this method of coffee brewing comes from its core mechanic, the pressing of hot water at high pressure through finely ground coffee.

The earliest prototype of what would become the modern espresso machine was created by Italian Angelo Moriondo. The major difference between what he made and an espresso you’re familiar with is that his machine, despite working the same way by pressurising hot water through ground coffee, was made for producing bulk coffee rather than individual brews.

Luigi Bezzera, who invented the next stage of the espresso machine, patented his new machine in 1901 before first exhibiting his improvements upon Moriondo’s invention at the World’s Fair in Milan in 1906.>

Businessman Desiderio Pavoni acquired Bezzera’s patent and began marketing it under his new company name La Pavoni, selling the machine as the ldeale way to make coffee.

Afterwards, Bezzera and Pavoni developed their companies separately off the back of this new espresso machine. Bezzera’s company still operates under the direction of his great-grandson.

Not one to be left behind as a northern Italian coffee pioneer, Achille Gaggia in 1948 invented the lever-driven espresso machine. It was from via this lever that he produced pressure inside the puck that hadn’t been possible before. From this higher pressure brew came espresso’s most prominent feature: crema.

First considered offal from the brewing process, Gaggia instead rebranded his new espresso as caffe crema — coffee so good it produced its own cream.

What makes an espresso an espresso?

We all know what it is but what is it that sets an espresso apart from other, slower, less popular brewing methods?


First and most importantly, an espresso coffee can be made quickly. It shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds to go from grind to brew. Obviously it will take longer if you’re frothing milk afterwards but the big selling point of an espresso is how quick it is to brew.


Espresso is also structurally different from other methods of brewing coffee courtesy of its crema. This is that thicker, foamy substance with that beautiful light brown texture that sits atop the darker, more watery shot itself.

Crema is the byproduct of the water at high pressure dissolving carbon dioxide that’s created during the roasting of the beans. It’s made of condensed oils that suspend themselves in the top layer of the coffee creating what’s called a ‘colloid’ which rises to the top of the brew.


Despite the nature of its darker roast, an espresso coffee doesn’t have the same pungent taste a dark roast filter coffee or cold brew can have. Espresso coffee is softer but still with a kick of flavour that’s compacted into the crema and then distributed throughout the shot.

Brewing Your Own Espresso.

Brewing an excellent espresso from your own coffee machine is more of a science than an art. Luckily, we’ve already put together a guide for brewing the perfect espresso from your home or office coffee machine.

Most machines do a lot of the gruntwork themselves so all you have to do is manage your way through the most important part: buying great coffee beans that make for great espresso.

For the rest of the process — like making sure you’re grinding the right amount of coffee, tamping at the correct pressure, and ensuring your extraction time is hopping along at the right pace — read through our guide to the perfect home espresso.

Buy espresso beans online.

To experiment for yourself with the beautiful taste of a coffee bean roasted just for espresso coffee, use our speciality coffee blend Wanderer.

Use code welcome20 for 20% off your first order. Free shipping applies over $60 Australia-wide.

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