coffee intensity coffee intensity


By the Lavazza Team 2/3 minutes

An espresso is the base of all barista-made coffees. But why is it called ‘espresso’? Let’s get more familiar with the classic Italian beverage and popular espresso culture.

What does espresso mean?

Espresso was first introduced in Italy by Luigi Bezzera. Not long after, espresso culture began spreading across Europe. Luigi Bezzera was one of the first coffee machine inventors who enhanced the first-ever patented espresso machine, which was created in Torino in 1884, by the hotel and café entrepreneur, Angelo Moriondo.

What does espresso mean?

Moriondo needed to prepare and serve coffee to his guests as fast as possible. And because his hotel was in front of the Turin Railway station, he adopted the term 'espresso’ - like the fastest trains of the era.

Espresso machines work by pulling hot water through the tight puck of the coffee ground. It needs significant pressure to bring out the coffee taste as quickly as possible.

Coffee glossary

  • Americano : Beverage consisting of espresso and hot water with a ratio of 1:2.
  • Barista : An Italian term for a person operating an espresso machine and other coffee brewing equipment at a café or a coffee shop.
  • Brew Time : How long it takes to brew an espresso shot. Espresso’s standard brewing time is between 25 to 30 seconds.
  • Burr Grinder : The standard type of coffee bean grinder for making espressos.
  • Caffe Latte : Coffee drink consisting of espresso and steamed milk.
  • Cappuccino : A combination of espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk with a 1:2:2 ratio.
  • Crema : The light-brown foamy layer floating on the top of a brewed espresso. Crema usually tastes rich and creamy, because of the emulsified oils and the quick release of CO2 developed during roasting of the coffee beans.
  • Demitasse : Typically used in France, a demitasse has a capacity of approximately 60–90ml – half the size of a full coffee cup used in north European countries. However, the traditional Italian Espresso is served in a white china cup, holding 50-60ml.
  • Espresso : Brewed coffee beans from a professional espresso machine. It’s made from 7 grams of finely ground coffee and provides 30-45ml of intense liquid.
  • Froth: A thick layer of cream on top of steamed milk, made by the frother on the espresso machine. When the frother hangs on the surface of the milk, it’ll produce thicker foam with a lot of bubbles which becomes a ‘froth’.
  • Puck: The bed of pressed (or tamped down) coffee grounds.
  • Tamp: Tamp or tamping is when a barista presses the bed of loose ground coffee to brew an espresso.

How to taste espresso intensity

Each type of coffee bean has unique taste characteristics, and testers or baristas often use the term ‘intensity’ to describe them. Put simply, the meaning of ‘espresso intensity’ is its taste and aroma. A description of coffee intensity is often followed by the word ‘body’, which also reflects the depth of taste,

The origin of the espresso coffee bean, and the various types of bean, both affect the intensity. The way in which the bean is roasted also plays a part in how an espresso tastes. Arabica or Robusta blends are probably the best-known base for espresso. Arabica has sweeter and softer tones, whereas Robusta is more intense.

Measuring coffee intensity

When buying espresso pods and blends from the supermarket, the packaging usually marks the intensity. It’ll often use a scale of 5-10 – and sometimes 12 – to describe the intensity after brewing. This scale isn’t official and relies solely on the coffee company’s judgement. In fact, your taste buds may decide it’s different to what the packaging says.

As a general guide, if the packaging rates the bean intensity under 4, it has a light body and delicate aroma. 7 is the middle ground, and this will mean it has a more decadent aroma and slightly stronger taste. If you’re looking for an intense, strong-bodied coffee, go for a 10 rating!


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