Written by Charles Peacock
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Espresso is thought by many people to refer to a certain type of coffee bean or roasting procedure. In reality, it refers to a method of making coffee where steam is quickly forced through finely ground coffee. This is in contrast to traditional coffee brewing, where boiling water is strained through thicker grounds over a longer period of time.

What Makes Espresso Special

In Italian, the word "espresso" refers to coffee that is literally "pressed out." The difference in this brewing method is that the most delicate flavors of the coffee bean are able to be extracted without too much watering down. Many people think that espresso coffee has more caffeine than regular brewed coffee, but the reality is that the quick espresso process allows substantially less caffeine to enter your cup.

Because this type of coffee is made quickly and under pressure, the beans have to be roasted longer so that their flavorful oils are closer to the surface and more easily extracted. In addition, the beans should be ground finely so the hot steam is exposed to the maximum possible surface area. This allows the steam to extract the best part of the beans' flavor--and nothing more.

Making a good espresso calls for three things. First (and most obviously), you have to have good beans. Then you must make the coffee using just the right amount of heat and pressure. The steam should hot--but not quite boiling--and the pressure should be strong, but not too strong. If you get these parameters right, you'll have a deliciously smooth cup of coffee with a nice tan layer of cream on the top.

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