WINNING BREW: Espresso is the foundation for the popular milk-based latte Picture: FILE

You’ve seen the t-shirt, there really is no “x” in espresso, but what does it mean?

The literal translation means expressed, or squeezed out.

This is exactly what takes place when preparing a shot of espresso in a professional coffee machine.

The coffee is expressed under pressure of nine bar or higher. We call this process extraction.

The barista, assisted by his equipment, has to extract flavour from the small number of dissolvable solids available.

He uses approximately 8g of coffee from which he is required to prepare a 30ml shot of espresso.

Therefore, an espresso is a 30ml shot of prepared coffee.

Pure coffee can be prepared in this pressurised manner or it can be prepared in a non-pressurised manner. This is done when near-boiling water is poured over a more coarsely ground coffee.

A process of osmosis takes place and the flavour, again from dissolvable solids, is extracted from the ground coffee and transferred into the water.

One uses 11g of coffee for a 200ml brew of what is commonly known as filter coffee.

Espresso coffee is used as the foundation for the popular milk- based drinks such as cappuccino, a flat white and latte,  whereas filter coffees are usually enjoyed with a smaller portion of milk.

Irrespective of how you enjoy your coffee, do remember that pre-ground coffee can lose much of its flavour literally within seconds of grinding.

If you are serious about your coffee at home, we recommend you purchase a burr grinder to ensure the best flavour in every cup.

“Coffee, the favourite drink of the civilised world.” – Thomas Jefferson

Alan Hawkins is a the chief roaster of Cutman & Hawk Coffees and founder of the East London Coffee Co.



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