Whether you head down to your local coffee shop, become a barista on your own coffee machine, or simply use a mocha, the espresso is a shot you’ll demand in the morning and will have you jogging, or sprinting, into your daily tasks.
If you are a cappuccino or Starbucks frappucino type of person, you may not be so familiar with the espresso. It’s great to know the espresso is essentially the foundation of your fancier coffee beverage.
History of espresso
Originating out of Italy and still so prominent today, the espresso was invented with the thought of speed. With coffee being so wildly popular in Europe in the 1800s, the goal was to invent a machine that brewed single cups of coffee. Despite no real machine becoming a concrete option, it wasn’t until after WWII that the espresso machine we all know today was developed and enjoyed.
How espresso is Made
What’s important in espresso is how the coffee is prepared. We are familiar with filters and French press, but the espresso not only uses a different grind size but additionally uses a much different and more compact system to be made.
In more professional terms, the espresso is a 1.5 ounce single shot of coffee made from very finely ground espresso beans. Typically preferred as a dark roast coffee but can be made using other roasts too. The coffee grounds are placed into the portafilter (which carries the puck of coffee grounds), and once placed into the espresso machine, pressurized extraction is used to force hot water through the compressed bed—presenting you a little cup of pure energizing happiness.
Today, many European countries like France, Portugal, Spain and even Cuba drown themselves in the famous cup of espresso or café.
Benefits of espresso
While we think about espresso purely for its “waking us up” benefits, we can also look at health benefits that come along with this little jolt of black liquid.
Espresso Enhances Memory And Focus
When it comes to brain function (1), coffee is often used to aid us in concentration and attention.
Our daily espresso shot doesn’t only help us retain any information we need, but also allow us to recall the information when needed later. In saying this, doing something like drinking espresso before studying, then drinking espresso before an exam, could benefit you in remembering the material better.
That espresso before studying and before an exam will also aid in your dopamine levels. Our body uses dopamine for pleasure, to focus, motivate us, enhance our mood and learning, and to find things interesting.
Whether you are feeling the need for speed before schooling, or just feeling sluggish throughout the day, espresso will boost you and aid you in combating whatever tasks you need completing.
Espresso & Physical Activity
Drinking caffeine before physical activity can aid in performance. Whether you are about to jump into a daily workout or enjoy a specific sport, espresso is the perfect drink to enhance your performance.
Espresso can get you your adrenaline rush and allow you to perform at peak level for a longer period. This, in turn, will enhance speed, strength and confidence in whatever activity you are performing.
Espresso & Anti-Oxidants
With coffee delivering us antioxidants due to its polyphenols (helps prevent the risk of disease), cafestol (works as an anti-inflammatory) and hydrocinnamic acids (neutralizes free radicals), espresso is like a little concentrated punch of all three.
Anti-oxidants are important for our body as they can reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease and other diseases. (2)
May Reduce Risk Of Stroke
Despite needing to drink responsibly, the more espresso a patient drank, the lower the risk of stroke was. This study found that drinking espresso helped to reduce the risk of healthy women having a stroke. (3)
A separate study, over 10 years, also found similar results and states that drinking one or more cups of coffee a day reduced the risk of stroke. (4)
These findings could be due to coffee’s antioxidant effects on the body and aiding in the prevention of disease.
Reduce The Chances Of Diabetes
A study from Harvard School of Public Health found that “people who increased the amount of coffee they drank each day by more than one cup over a four-year period had an 11% lower risk for type 2 diabetes than those who made no changes to their coffee consumption.” (5) This would, of course, be alongside an active lifestyle.
Lessening the risk of diabetes could also have to do with the way espresso is drunk. This is due to espresso being consumed as a single shot and is often drank black. In Western culture, we often add high amounts of cream or milk and sugar in our coffees, making them more of a health risk than a drink to benefit from.
How To Drink Espresso
With espresso, there are some specific rules on how to consume this style of coffee. In most European countries where espresso is king, you’ll see coffee stands, rather than tables to relax at. This is due to espresso’s need to be drunk quickly. The need for speed comes not only when you are making the espresso, but also when you are consuming it.
Certain establishments may give you a glass of water or sparkling water to cleanse your pallet.
Don’t be afraid to add sugar if you need it.
Be sure to give it a quick stir before consuming so you can mix the thick and syrupy part on the bottom through to balance it out.
Take your shot and move on with your day!
Caffeine In Espresso
As we have discussed espresso as being a beverage to wake you up and produce an energizing jolt to your day, its caffeine content may seem to be more than a normal coffee.
Since espresso is considerably smaller than a cup of coffee, it contains less caffeine than a standard, brewed coffee.
A standard espresso contains 212mg of coffee per 100 grams.
A normal amount of caffeine throughout your day can be up to 400mg, making a couple of espressos a day safe for most healthy adults.
Espresso At Home
If you are looking to keep your espresso consumption at home, you can find some great appliances to use. While an espresso machine is a great option, you can also look for a mocha. This oddly shaped mechanism sits perfectly on your stovetop and can make anywhere from one to 20 shots of espresso, depending on the size you buy.
As for storage of those finely ground coffee beans, make sure to keep the air out, avoid moisture, and keep it an opaque, airtight container in your pantry.
Don’t be intimidated by such a tiny cup of coffee. Although strong, the flavor is unlike any other coffee you may try. With so much history and so much strength in today's society, who would have known such a little amount of liquid gold could bring us such great energy with a side of potential health benefits.