The only difference between the espresso coffee bean and the coffee bean is the process by which the bean is processed before it is converted into a coffee drink. The espresso coffee bean was originally developed in Milan in Italy during the early 20th century, and up until the mid 1940s, espresso could only be produced through steam pressure. The espresso coffee bean has defining characteristics which set it apart from other coffee beans, including a thicker consistency than standard drip coffee, a higher amount of dissolved solids per relative volume, and a serving size that is usually measured in 1 fluid ounce shots.
Espresso is a volatile and chemically complex by nature, and many of its chemical components degrade quickly because of a loss of temperature and due to oxidation. The most distinguishing feature that sets espresso apart from drip coffee and the traditional coffee bean is “crema”, which is a reddish brown foam that is composed of vegetable oils, sugars and proteins that floats on the surface of the espresso shot.
All of the flavors and chemicals in a typical cup of drip coffee are concentrated as a result of the high pressure brewing process. For this reason, espresso is especially useful when serving as the coffee base for other specialty coffee drinks like mochas, macchiato drinks, cappuccinos and lattes. On a per volume basis, the espresso shot that results from brewing the espresso coffee bean contains approximately three times as much caffeine as regular brewed coffee. When compared on the basis of a standard serving size, a single fluid ounce shot of espresso has half of the caffeine content of a standard six fluid ounce cup of American-style drip coffee.
Preparation of espresso from the espresso coffee bean form requires the use of a special espresso machine. Producing a single shot of espresso is called “pulling a shot”, which is derived from the old style lever espresso machines that involved pulling down on a handle that was attached to a spring loaded piston which forced hot water through the coffee at the right level of pressure. Pulling a shot of espresso involves a metal filter basket with 7 to 10 or 12 to 18 grams of ground espresso coffee beans depending on whether you are looking to produce a single shot or a double shot of espresso.
The ground espresso coffee bean are tamped down using 30 to 40 pounds of force into a firm puck of coffee. Pressurized water is then applied at between 185 and 203 degrees Fahrenheit. Water cooler than this ideal zone would cause sourness in the shot, and water hotter than this ideal zone would cause bitterness.
The higher quality espresso machines control the temperature of the brew water to keep it within a few degrees of the ideal zone. To produce the ideal shot of espresso, a demitasse or shot glass is pre heated, and the espresso shot is pulled directly into the shot glass so that its crema can be maintained and its ideal temperature preserved.
You can believe you are in for an unbelievable flavor and caffeine shock from the espresso coffee bean with your first shot of espresso coffee beans.