Espresso (ess-PRESS-oh) is a full-flavored, concentrated form of coffee that is served in “shots.” It is made by forcing pressurized hot water through very finely ground coffee beans using an espresso machine. The result is a liquid stronger than coffee topped with a “crema,” a brown foam that forms when air bubbles combine with the soluble oils of fine-ground coffee and sits on top of a properly pulled shot of espresso. The crema adds to the rich flavor and lingering aftertaste of espresso.
Espresso is made using the exact same plant as coffee, and is grown, processed, and roasted the same way. Any origin and roast coffee can be used to make espresso. The difference between coffee and espresso is in the grind and the treatment of the beans. The beans are ground to a finer consistency than coffee and firmly packed before hot water is forced through using an espresso machine. This results in a shot of espresso, which can be enjoyed as-is or used to make a long list of drinks including a cappuccino or Americano.
Espresso has all of the same flavors of coffee but amplified—bitter, lightly sweet, acidic, toasty. The exact flavor profile will vary depending on the coffee roast. It has a thicker, creamier texture than coffee.