Ask anyone who has traveled the world where the best cup of coffee is made, and they’re likely to tell you the best cup of coffee is a shot of espresso in Italy. If not, then it will be somewhere near where they live, with a coffee that reminds them of home.
Italian espresso is often held as up the gold standard because it’s where espresso got its start. The country has more experience than anywhere else in making espressos, and they’ve turned it into an art, as well as a normal part of their daily lives. This means a lot of good taste in every cup!
Tradition and experience are important, but they’re not the only things that make Italian espresso so good. Read on to learn more about espresso, its origins, and why everything in Italy tastes so darned good. You can also learn a few little tricks regarding how to make a good espresso at home.
What Makes Italian Coffee So Good?
Many factors go into the perfect cup of coffee. In some countries, this means a cup of sweet, filtered coffee. In Italy, this means a perfectly simple espresso.
Italy has many, many years of cumulative practice in making espresso. They were among the first countries to import coffee beans in large quantities, of good quality, and coffee is still a huge part of daily life and culture.
In addition to the experience that comes with a common tradition, the espresso machines contribute to the good flavor of an average cup of Italian espresso.
This is because Italian coffee bars tend to use basic, simple-but-effective machines, and they keep them around for a long time.
This means the taste of hundreds, even thousands of cups of coffee is infused in each cup, rather than the taste of sterile, new machinery.
Another factor is that Italian coffee bars generally get freshly quality roasted coffee beans, often roasted in the same town in small batches. This level of freshness helps translate to a wonderful shot of espresso.
Does Everything Taste Better In Italy?
Italian baristas and cooks, both in and out of the home, emphasize fresh ingredients, good tastes, and the right (generally traditional) methods for cooking.
This means that when real Italian food is placed in front of someone who is used to the overprocessed, automated products that are so common in countries like the United States, the deliciousness can be almost overwhelming.
Barometric pressure, humidity, and other weather conditions can also contribute to how good food tastes, and if you’ve ever seen a movie that takes place in Italy, you know how well their weather goes with scenes of food. It works well for the taste, too!
Even products that are aged, like some Italian wines, again emphasize things being made the right way, as they’ve always been.
Italian winery tours focus on the well-worn barrels, the perfect temperature provided by the architecture, and the traditions and processes passed down by that winery, often within a single-family.
Why Is Italian Coffee Called Espresso?
The word _espresso_ means _fast_ in Italian, and a traditional espresso shot takes a mere thirty seconds to brew, from start to finish.
This is very fast! Espresso was originally just a really fast way of getting coffee to a lot of people. Tradition has it that this was to help flagging workers continue about their day after only a short break.
What Is the History of the Espresso Machine?
The first espresso machine produced was in the early 1900s. It was created by Luigi Bezzera and made famous by Desidero Pavoni.
Now, espresso machines are available everywhere, though they’re generally a fair bit more expensive than a standard drip coffee maker, at least if you live outside of Italy.
How Do Italians Take Their Coffee?
Italian coffee drinkers generally consider espresso standard. In fact, if you order a coffee in an Italian coffee bar, you’re probably going to get a plain (but good!) espresso shot.
Espresso drinks are very basic and generally only mixed with some milk, not the extravagant, sugar-loaded drinks available at coffee shops like Starbucks.
Espresso drinks mixed with milk, like the cafe latte and the cappuccino, are only consumed in the morning in Italy. They’re considered breakfast drinks.
What’s the Difference Between Espresso and Drip Coffee?
In the United States and much of the world, coffeehouses serve both espresso and drip coffee. To many, these drinks couldn’t be more different.
Espresso is made without a filter. It uses a specialized machine, as discussed above, that forces pressurized water through very fine coffee grounds.
It’s also served in shot sizes rather than cups. The resulting drink is a concentrated, potent, quick little drink that’s thicker and more intense than drip coffee.
Drip coffee generally drips through coffee grinds and a paper filter. The coffee has a bit coarser of a grind than it does for espresso. Unlike espresso, which takes about thirty seconds to brew, drip coffee takes minutes.
It’s generally served in 6-8oz cups in more traditional coffeehouses or larger amounts at some trendy chains.
Can I Get Drip Coffee In Italy?
Drip coffee isn’t served in Italy. However, you can get fairly close by ordering an Americano. The casual coffee drinker might not even notice the difference.
An Americano is made by adding water to an espresso shot, enough to create the 6-8oz, a more watered-down cup of coffee.
Are All Italian Coffee Beans Espresso Roasts?
All coffee produced in Italy is likely destined for espresso, so in that way, yes, all Italian coffee beans are espresso roasts.
However, elsewhere in the world, the term “espresso roast” indicates a very dark roast, with very fine grinds if the coffee beans are already ground.
By this measure, Italian espresso isn’t always made with quality espresso roast beans. To achieve a more balanced flavor, some coffee bars use a medium roast that works well with their machines and techniques.
What Italian Coffee Can I Buy Elsewhere?
You can buy a lot of Italian coffee in other countries. Be aware that it’ll be a good deal less fresh than if you buy it straight from a bar in Italy!
However, there are two brands of Italian coffee widely available that are consistently listed as the best brands of Italian coffee: Illy and Lavazza. These are available ground and in pods for certain espresso makers.
Do Italians Drink Lattes and Other Espresso Drinks?
Italians do drink lattes and other espresso drinks. However, they don’t get nearly as fancy as some places, with the idea that simple is good.
You can order a cappuccino without getting any funny looks, as long as it’s before around 11 am. Espresso drinks with milk added are considered breakfast drinks. They’re meant to be sipped, sitting in one place, enjoying the flavors as you greet the day.
Like other Italian coffee, mixed espresso drinks are something of a ritual, so unless you try a coffee bar that caters heavily to Americans, you’re not likely to find sugary, trendy, overdone drinks.
Italian drinks are simple, with just a few ingredients, but they’re done right.
Can I Get Italian Espresso From My Keurig?
You can get a drink called Italian espresso from your Keurig, but whether it tastes like Italian espresso will depend on your tastes and experiences.
For many people, coffee pods end up much too watered down, which is particularly blasphemous if you’re trying to get a drink that’s traditionally freshly-ground and highly concentrated.
That said, Keurig and other similar brands have been working on attracting a more refined audience, and there’s been a rise in single-button-push espresso machines.
These do result in a more concentrated drink than you might expect from this class of coffee makers, but whether they live up to the “real thing” is a matter of debate.
Do I Need an Expensive Espresso Machine?
Espresso machines are generally a bit pricier than standard drip coffee machines. However, as long as it’s an espresso machine, you don’t need anything fancy to get a good cup of espresso.
The more expensive machines generally aim to make it easier, with less training or practice required, so a lot of this comes down to how much work you’re willing to put in and how much control you want over your shot of espresso.
Is Single-Origin or Blended Coffee Better?
Whether you like your coffee beans from a single source or blended from multiple sources again often comes down to individual tastes.
Blended coffee tends to have a better balance, but if you know you like particular notes and flavors, it makes sense to choose beans with an origin that lends well to that taste.
Some blends combine Arabica and Robusta beans from entirely different countries. Other blends are all a single type of bean but blended from coffee beans sourced from multiple coffee farms or plantations.
These different methods produce different results, and again, both have their own merits.
Table Of Content
- Can I Get Drip Coffee In Italy?
- What Makes Italian Coffee So Good?
- How Do Italians Take Their Coffee?
- Does Everything Taste Better In Italy?
- Why Is Italian Coffee Called Espresso?
- Do I Need an Expensive Espresso Machine?
- What Italian Coffee Can I Buy Elsewhere?
- Is Single-Origin or Blended Coffee Better?
- Can I Get Italian Espresso From My Keurig?
- What Is the History of the Espresso Machine?
- Are All Italian Coffee Beans Espresso Roasts?
- Do Italians Drink Lattes and Other Espresso Drinks?
- What’s the Difference Between Espresso and Drip Coffee?