Espresso Coffee Terminology and History

The original term for the modern word espresso, coffee extracted under pressure, was cream coffee from the Italian caffe crema or the variant, crema caffe. Due to the crema, which is now the light-colored, orangish head of foam on a cup of espresso, these terms were seen on the first modern Achille Gaggia steamless coffee machine in 1938. These terms were used commercially in his coffee bar, but are no longer used.

Today, espresso is known as a concentrated coffee beverage brewed by forcing hot water under a high countable pressure, known as a Bar pressure, through finely ground coffee. Today, we also drink this concentrated coffee beverage as coffee breve, which comes from the Italian word for short. Thus, short cream becomes half and half, cream short of full cream is known as whole milk. This quick different coffee brewing method often has a thicker consistency, a higher concentration of suspended solids and crema (foam). As a result of the pressurized brewing process, all of the flavors, a chemical sense of taste and smell, in a typical cup of coffee is very concentrated. For this reason, espresso has become the base for other drinks.

These drinks include lattes, which comes from the Italian word for coffee, caff?�. In Italy, the word for milk is latte. When hot milk or warm half-and-half is added it becomes caff?� latte or caffellatte in Italian. These drinks are often called lattes in America as well. A cappuccino is a latte with a steamed milk froth on the top of the drink. The light color of the robes of Capuchin friars inspired a derivation of the word Capuchin as cappuccino. The word macchiato means marked or stained. Thus a macchiato is an espresso that is marked or stained with milk on the top. This is usually an elegant drink with a design made with milk on the top. Baristas love to show off their artistic ability with fancy milk designs. Mocha is an American invention that was inspired by an old Italian drink in Turin, Italy. This drink is made in layers of drinking chocolate, whole milk or half-and- half milk and espresso. This drink is served in small round glasses, like Italians do, to show off the three layers. The word Americano comes from American GIs who toned down the strength of drinks in Italy to match the strength of their drip coffee they drank at home. The Americano was made by adding hot water to their cup after the espresso was poured. Today, an Americano is made by adding water before or after the espresso is put in the cup.

The original espresso to the present espresso and its variations all stem from Italy in one way or another. Many Americans today drink the Italian styles and strengths of Italian coffee. In fact, you can find not only the Italian espresso drinks, but there variations all over the world.