national espresso day

How to Make the Perfect Espresso on National Espresso Day

November 23, 2021

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National Espresso Day is a day to enjoy your espresso coffee.

It is celebrated on 23 November every year in the USA. The date may differ in other countries.

I don’t know how it got started. I’ve seen some posts that suggest National Espresso Day was created by the International Coffee Organization in 2005 or even 2001. I’ve not been able to confirm this story. 

However, you and I know that this sort of thing is usually created to help people sell more coffee!

It is probably one of those marketing gimmicks to create awareness and promote coffee. Just like National Cappuccino Day and National Frappe Day!

I don’t mind how or why it got started. I don’t need to be reminded to drink espresso. I simply like to drink espresso every day of the year – not just one day. 

However, since it is National Espresso Day let’s find out more about espresso and how to make the ‘perfect’ espresso coffee drink.

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Espresso 101

What is espresso coffee?

Espresso coffee is made by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee beans under pressure.

The word ‘espresso’ is Italian for ‘expressed’. This means the coffee is extracted quickly. The word espresso may also mean ‘made on the spur of the moment’ (stated in the book called Uncommon Grounds by Mark Pendergast)

I’ve read blogs that say espresso has been called the ‘King of Coffee’. I’m also unsure where this phrase comes from but it seems a bit exaggerated. 

Sure I like espresso more than any other brewing technique but I wouldn’t call it ‘King of Coffee’. 

If you did call espresso ‘King of Coffee’ what would be ‘Queen of Coffee’, ‘Prince of Coffee’, or ‘Princess of Coffee’?

OK, I’m being a bit silly but you get my drift? (This phrase may give you a hint about my generation).

The ‘King of Coffee’ is subjective and is entirely up to you. Your ‘King of Coffee’ could be espresso, drip, pour-over, or however you prefer to make it.

As you know espresso is a coffee percolation brewing method where pressured hot water is forced through finely-ground coffee to extract all the good coffee compounds that are responsible for coffee’s taste, aroma, and flavor.  

But espresso isn’t just any type of coffee. Here are some facts that are important to know about espresso:

  • Espresso tends to have more caffeine per volume than other coffees
  • Espresso is thicker and more concentrated than most other types of coffee drinks
  • Espresso is usually served in a small cup called a demitasse (French for ‘half-cup’) which has a volume of about 90 ml. A single shot (or ‘solo’ in Italian) of espresso is about 30 – 40 ml ml and the ‘extra space’ in the cup helps you to smell and appreciate the aroma volatiles.
  • Espresso has three components: the crema (sweeter top foamy layer), the body, and the heart (the bitter part of the espresso shot that settles to the bottom)
  • Stir your espresso to combine the three layers and balance the flavor of the espresso shot
  • You need to use appropriate equipment to brew a good espresso
  • Espresso coffee is a percolation technique for brewing coffee
  • Espresso uses a pressure of about 9 to 15 bar to extract the coffee from the coffee grounds. However, 9 bar is usually enough pressure.
  • Espresso uses water at a temperature of about 90 °C or 190 °F
  • The four common serving sizes of espresso are espresso (about 40 ml), ristretto (about 20 ml), doppio (about 60 ml), and lungo (about 90 ml).
  • An espresso is ‘poured’ or ‘pulled’ from an espresso machine
  • A barista may use the term ‘length’ to describe the brew ratio which seems silly because length seems to imply time.
  • Many coffees use espresso as their ‘base’ and then add milk, water, or other ingredients

Equipment needed to brew a Good Espresso

The basic gear you need to make a good espresso is…

  • A coffee bean grinder. Preferably a burr grinder to give you the finest grind. The burr grinder may be conical or flat.
  • A balance to weigh your ground coffee and also weigh your output coffee liquid (if you want to measure brew ratio)
  • A source of good quality water
  • A good quality espresso coffee maker that has good temperature and pressure regulation 
  • Different sized portafilters to accommodate different sized espresso pours. The portafilters are usually included with the espresso machine when you buy your espresso machine.

You also need the skill to pour a good espresso. You can learn by yourself through trial and error, physically attend an offline course, or attend an online course such as the Ninja Barista Course.

Top 3 Best Selling Coffee Bean Grinders

Bestseller No. 1
Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill
  • ENJOY OPTIMUM FLAVOR: Burr grinding provides a uniform grind to your fresh coffee beans with its 18-position grind selector – move the slide-dial from ultra-fine to extra-coarse to ensure your coffee grounds are exactly the way you prefer
  • REMOVABLE FEATURES: Our 8 oz. bean hopper is fully removable as well as our built-in grind chamber for ease-of-use and accessibility during the cleaning process
  • GRIND CHAMBER: Our removable grind chamber holds enough ground coffee for 32-cups, you won’t have to worry about grinding beans multiple times to brew coffee for the entire household
  • ONE-TOUCH GRIND: The one-touch power bar is separate from the unit and complemented by an electric timer that automatically shuts off the unit when your grind cycle is complete
  • CONVENIENT DESIGN: Our heavy-duty unit motor doesn’t take away space for additional design features; enjoy the convenience of cord storage and an additional scoop/cleaning brush to declutter, clean and maximize counter space
Bestseller No. 2
OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
  • Durable 40 millimeter stainless steel conical burrs create uniform grounds for optimal flavor extraction
  • 15 settings (plus Micro settings) let you adjust your grind to suit your taste
  • One touch start timer keeps your last setting, just push to grind
  • Hopper holds up to 0.75 pounds of Coffee beans. Product Dimension - 12x7.4x16 inch
  • Grounds container accommodates up to 110 grams (enough for 12 cups). Never use water or other liquids to clean the inside of the grinder/burrs
SALE!Bestseller No. 3
Portable Electric Burr Coffee Grinder, 4 Cups Small Automatic Conical Burr Grinder Coffee Bean Grinder with Multi Grind Setting for Espresso Drip Pour Over French Press, USB Rechargeable, Black
  • 【More Precise Than Blade Grinder】 The electric burr grinder consistently crushes coffee beans between ceramic conical burrs. This process also retaining the coffee's natural flavor and aroma better than a blade grinder. The hopper can grind up to 1 ounce/30 grams (enough for 4 cups) of coffee beans in a single batch.
  • 【Automatic & Portable】 The fully automatic system allows for convenient, hands-free grinding. Put this cordless and USB rechargeable mini coffee grinder in your bag or suitcase, you can enjoy freshly ground coffee anytime, anywhere, whether at home, work, travel, hiking or camping...
  • 【Multi Grind Setting】 The portable conical burr coffee grinder boasts multi grind settings to grind your coffee beans for any desired brewing method, from espresso to French press, - from ultra-fine to extra-coarse. With LAIJUHM electric coffee grinder you will never have to worry about uneven coffee grounds, no matter which grind size you select.
  • 【Easy to Clean】 Cleaning brush included for easy cleanup. The removable upper burr, hopper and chamber removes easily for effortless cleanup. Never use water or other liquids to clean the inside of the espresso bean grinder/burrs.
  • 【Warranty & Notes】 The e-clip issue of the coffee grinder has been fixed. LAIJUHM provides 12-month replacement service and lifelong friendly after-sales service or full refund. If you need any help, please feel free to contact us.

Last update on 2022-05-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Top 3 Best Selling Espresso Machines

SALE!Bestseller No. 1
Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • The Breville Barista Express delivers third wave specialty coffee at home using the 4 keys formula and is part of the Barista Series that offers all in one espresso machines with integrated grinder to go from beans to espresso in under one minute
  • DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Integrated precision conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver the right amount of freshly ground coffee directly into the portafilter for your preferred taste with any roast of bean
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and helps ensure all the flavors are drawn out evenly during the extraction for a balanced tasting cup
  • PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction
  • MANUAL MICROFOAM MILK TEXTURING: The powerful steam wand performance allows you to hand texture microfoam milk that enhances flavor and enables creation of latte art
Bestseller No. 2
Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
  • The Breville Barista Touch delivers third wave specialty coffee at home using the 4 keys formula and is part of the Barista Series that offers all in one espresso machines with integrated grinder to go from beans to espresso in under one minute
  • DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: With a single touch, the integrated precision conical burr grinder with dose control delivers the right amount of coffee on demand, for maximum flavor
  • OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and helps ensure all the flavors are drawn out evenly during the extraction for a balanced tasting cup
  • FASTER HEAT UP TIME: Innovative ThermoJet heating system achieves the optimum extraction temperature in 3 seconds
  • PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction
Bestseller No. 3
De'Longhi ECP3120 15 Bar Espresso Machine with Advanced Cappuccino System, 9.6 x 7.2 x 11.9 inches, Black/Stainless Steel
  • Every cup to your liking 15-bar professional pressure assures quality results every time, and adjustable controls allow you to make modifications for your personal taste preferences
  • Brew like a pro Whatever your preference – Single or double espresso, cappuccino or latte – the machine brews authentic barista-quality beverages just like you enjoy at your favorite coffeehouse
  • Your foam, your way a manual frothier mixes steam and milk to create a rich, creamy froth for evenly textured drinks – just the way you like them
  • 1 espresso shot or 2. The 3-in-1 filter holder, included with the unit, has a holder for 1 espresso shot, a holder for 2 shots, and 1 for an easy-serve espresso pod – whatever your preference
  • No waiting between cups: The Advanced Cappuccino System maintains the optimal temperature so you can brew cup after cup instantly

Last update on 2022-05-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Top 3 Best Selling Coffee Beans

Bestseller No. 1
Lavazza Espresso Italiano Whole Bean Coffee Blend, Medium Roast, 2.2 Pound Bag (Packaging May Vary) Authentic Italian, Blended And Roasted in Italy, Non GMO, 100% Arabica, Rich bodied
  • 1 2.2 pound bag of Lavazza Caffe Espresso Italian whole coffee beans
  • Rich bodied medium roast with highly aromatic notes
  • Non GMO, 100 percent Arabica. Intensity: 5 Delicate
  • Blended and roasted in Italy
  • Best used for espresso but also suitable in any coffee maker
SALE!Bestseller No. 2
SAN FRANCISCO BAY SF Coffee Whole Bean 2LB Medium Roast, Breakfast Blend, 32 Ounce
  • Breakfast Blend is our signature medium roast made from select Central American coffee beans. It makes a bright, smooth cup of coffee to start the morning. It's our favorite medium blend.
  • FOR FINEST TASTE: Store in a cool, dark place and grind beans just berfore brewing
  • QUALITY COFFEE: San Francisco Bay Coffee uses only 100% arabica coffee and certified Kosher coffee beans. Hand picked and grown in high altitude. We're so confident you'll love it, we back it with a satisfaction guarantee.
  • SUSTAINABLY AND ECO- FARMED COFFEE: We offer a wide selection of sustainably grown, sourced, and packaged coffee from whole bean to ground, flavored to decaf, and much more.
  • SF BAY COFFEE is a family owned, American made company with a rich tradition. Our reputation reflects on us as a family so if you're ever not happy with your purchase, call us and we'll make it right.
Bestseller No. 3
AmazonFresh Colombia Whole Bean Coffee, Medium Roast, 32 Ounce
  • Balanced, full-bodied medium roast with a smooth finish
  • One 32-ounce bag of whole bean coffee
  • 100% Arabica coffee grown in Colombia
  • Roasted and packed in the U.S.A.
  • Shown as a serving suggestion

Last update on 2022-05-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Very Brief History of Espresso 

The first commercial espresso machine was invented in 1901 by Italian Luigi Bezzara. 

His machine was a ‘complicated affair with assorted spigots, handles, and gauges, all topped with a resplendent eagle’. It is was something like the machine in the image below

Bezzera espresso machine
Bezzara Espresso Coffee Maker

A guy called Desiderio Pavoni had the foresight to recognise the potential of the machine and bought the patent from Bezzara in 1903. Pavoni started manufacturing one machine a day from a small workshop in Milan.

Of course, since that day espresso has become one of the most popular coffee drinks in the world.

Why Celebrate National Espresso Day?

So, why celebrate National Espresso Day? The answer is simple: Espresso is delicious.

It’s strong, smooth, and satisfying. It has a distinct flavor that can’t be replicated. And if you’re looking for a way to wake up in the morning, espresso is the perfect drink.

But not just that! Espresso also has numerous health benefits. It has been linked to decreasing the risk of Parkinson’s, lowering blood pressure, and is high in antioxidants.

We’re not saying you have to drink espresso all day, but it’s certainly worth a least drinking one espresso to ‘celebrate’ National Espresso Day!

How to Celebrate National Espresso Day

If you would like to celebrate National Espresso Day, there are a number of different options for you to choose from.

Espresso enthusiasts can enjoy a shot of espresso with or without a favorite creamer and sweetener.

Some people may want to try a specialty coffee, like a vanilla-bean latte, which is made with espresso and milk and flavored with vanilla and cinnamon.

You can also enjoy an iced Americano or a Caffe mocha.

In Italy, some people celebrate by drinking their national beverage of espresso, while others might enjoy a cappuccino or caffe corretto, which is made with brandy.

You can also enjoy espresso in an Italian dessert like tiramisu, which is made with espresso, mascarpone cheese, sugar, and cocoa powder. 

One of the most famous types of milk espresso is a cappuccino. It is usually made with espresso and steamed milk that is poured into a cup and topped with foam.

In the United States, the most popular type of espresso is the mocha, which is made from espresso, chocolate sauce, and steamed milk.

If you were a Good Brews member then you would even have been offered a chance to win a free espresso from your favorite ‘good coffee place’! Just one of the benefits of being a Good Brews member. You can become a member by just signing up here…

How to make the perfect espresso

OK…there is no such thing as a ‘perfect espresso’ because personal taste is subjective. Yes, you do have professional coffee tasters who have a career in judging ‘good’ from ‘less good’ coffee. However, their taste may not match your taste. You may find perfectly acceptable and even ‘good’ tasting coffee that the professional tasters would not rate highly.

Does it matter? Not really. You choose to make coffee to suit your own taste and this is what I mean by the ‘perfect’ espresso.

Nevertheless, there are seven important ‘links to the chain’ of making espresso to suit your taste and these are…

  1. Good quality coffee beans
  2. Coffee grind
  3. Coffee dose
  4. Brew ratio
  5. Tamping
  6. Temperature
  7. Extraction time

Good Quality Coffee Beans

Obviously, you need to start with good-quality roasted coffee beans.

Hopefully, good quality will also be your favorite flavorsome coffee beans roasted to your taste. The three general categories of roast are light, medium, and dark.

Of course, it is your espresso coffee so you make it to your taste!

You can also roast your own raw (green) coffee beans.

Coffee Grind

You need to grind your coffee beans to a fine consistency with a handheld burr coffee grinder or a coffee grinding machine.

If the coffee grind is too fine then water will have a long contact time with the coffee grounds, over-extract the coffee, and result in a bitter cup of coffee.

If the coffee grind is too coarse then water will flow past the ground coffee, have a short contact time with the coffee grounds, under extract the coffee, and result in a ‘weak’ cup of coffee.

Weigh the ground coffee before loading the portafilter. The more coffee you need the larger the portafilter basket.

Coffee Dose

The coffee dose is the weight of ground coffee you use to fill the portafilter basket. A portafilter is a handled contraption that contains a ‘basket’ that contains your coffee and locks into the group head of an espresso machine. If you want to know what these things look like then read the post on the Top 10 Best Selling Home Espresso Coffee Maker Machines

The weight of coffee is part of the equation to determine your brew ratio (next section). Having a lot of coffee, presumably to make a strong coffee, isn’t necessarily the right way to go.

A larger dose will allow you to brew more espresso and a smaller dose will yield less espresso.

When you brew coffee you extract all the good (and potentially bad) flavors, aromas, and components of coffee.

If you increase the dose (weight) of coffee then it takes more work to extract all the necessary components to make good coffee. For example, you may need to carefully experiment with temperature, pressure, tamping, and brew time to get your ‘perfect’ espresso with a large dose compared with a smaller dose of coffee.

In most cases, your dose will be determined by the size of the portafilter basket.

Coffee to Water Brew Ratio

You should use an appropriate coffee to water brew ratio.

In coffee brewing terms, the “brew ratio” refers to the percentage of ground coffee beans to water added during extraction. It’s used to measure the quality of the extraction to get the best out of the bean. A brew ratio of 1:2 means that 1 gram of ground coffee would produce 2 grams of extracted coffee liquid.

The following brew ratios are often suggested…

Espresso 1:2 brew ratio

Ristretto 1:1 brew ratio

Lungo 1:3 or 1:4

A common brew ratio for an espresso is to use 18 grams of ground coffee in a double basket to give 36 grams of espresso liquid.

Tamping

It is usually recommended to use about 30 pounds of force to tamp the coffee into the portafilter. However, If tamping is firm and consistent, then the subsequent extraction should be good.

After tamping, you insert the filled portafilter into the group head of the espresso machine and start the extraction with hot pressurized water.

Temperature

The temperature of the water is one of the main factors in determining the extraction of your ground coffee.

Hot water will extract more components from ground coffee compared with cold water.

You can alter temperature if your espresso machine comes with that utility. There are three temperature ranges can be used to extract coffee based on the roast of the coffee you use for espresso.

  • Dark roast extraction temperatures 85 to 95 C
  • Medium roast extraction temperatures 88 to 92 C
  • Light roast extraction temperatures 90 to 95 C

Extraction

There are about three stages in coffee extraction and you may be able to see these as your start the pour. All of these stages occur during one pour. 

The first state is a pre-infusion (the time between pressing the extraction button and seeing the coffee start to pour). The pre-infusion takes about 3-5 seconds. The coffee will have a caramel color because it is essentially an emulsion of oil droplets.

The second stage is the main pour and is composed of suspended solids. It will be brown/black and have a ‘mouse tail’ shape during the pour. 

The final stage is a layer of gas bubbles or foam that forms the crema.

It is important to time the pour according to the desired brew ratio. Generally, extraction takes about 20 to 30 seconds. 

Conclusion

Espresso can be served alone or in combination with many other ingredients. Consequently, there are many different variations of espresso drinks around the world.

Espresso has become an important part of society. It started in Italy but has grown to become one of the most popular coffee drinks in the world. 

Espresso even has its own ‘National Day’. Who cares if this National Day was invented to promote or sell coffee? As long as I can drink espresso any day – I’m happy!

National Espresso Day Jigsaw Puzzle

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How to Play

  • Click and drag the pieces around with your mouse to complete the picture
  • Click on the question mark at the top right of the puzzle screen for help
  • Click the three horizontal lines at the top left to change the number of puzzle pieces
  • Check the time you took to complete your puzzle

References

Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Pendergrast, Mark (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 551 Pages - 07/09/2019 (Publication Date) - Basic Books (Publisher)

Last update on 2022-05-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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