How to enjoy Espresso

Posted on 18/10/2021

Though a serving of espresso is called a shot, it is not meant to be drunk in a single gulp. Instead, espresso is meant to be sipped slowly so you can take in its full, rich flavor. Most enjoy a shot or double shot of espresso as is, but sugar or another sweetener can be added. It is sometimes served with a sweet biscuit-like biscotti.

While espresso has the reputation of being high in caffeine, it all depends on how much you drink. Since the beverage tends to be served in smaller servings than coffee, it can sometimes end up having less caffeine than standard, brewed coffee. Double and triple shot drinks and mixed drinks like red-eyes can up the caffeine level significantly.

Espresso contains 29 to 100 milligrams of caffeine in a single shot, often hovering around 75 milligrams. A double shot contains 58 to 185 mg. For comparison, a cup of drip coffee can contain 80 to 200 mg of caffeine depending on the variety and brew.

Since espresso can be made with any kind of coffee, the acidity in espresso will vary depending on the roast. Lighter roasts are more acidic since darker roasts tend to hide the bean's natural acidity. Many coffee shop espressos are a darker roast, making espresso slightly less acidic than some brewed coffee.

Espresso is also used to make several popular coffeehouse drinks:

  • Shot: One serving of espresso (about one ounce) prepared at normal strength.

  • Doppio (DOH-pee-OH)Doppio is Italian for double and it means that you want a double shot of espresso. It's the standard espresso size in many coffeehouses.

  • Caffé Americano: A shot of espresso combined with enough hot water to fill a six-ounce cup. The Americano was supposedly invented by European baristas for American soldiers during World War II to replicate Americans' preferred drip-style coffee. It's popular on its own after dinner in Italy. In the U.S., many consume it with milk and/or sugar throughout the day.

  • Lungo (LOON-goh): A "long" pull (extraction) of espresso made with the same amount of finely ground coffee and twice the water of a normal shot. A single serving is about two ounces. It may sound similar to a Café Americano, but its unique processing results in a different flavor. It has less of a strong taste because it is made with more water. It also has more bitterness because the extraction process takes longer and pulls more bitterness out of the grounds. If over-extracted, it tastes bitter and metallic.

Red-eye: A cup of filtered coffee with one shot of espresso. It's sometimes called a "Hammerhead" or "Shot in the Dark." Variations include the "Black Eye," which is made with two shots of espresso, and the "Dead Eye," which is made with three shots.

  • Ristretto (ree-STREH-toe): A smaller, more concentrated serving of espresso. A ristretto has a more intense flavor and body and less bitterness. It may be ordered as a single (about 0.75 ounces) or a double (about 1.5 ounces).