Espresso Coffee; True or False It’s complicated!

There are certain facts regarding coffee and there are myths, here we will sort out some of the true facts about espresso coffee and espresso coffee machines and some of the myths as well.  It’s complicated!

Let’s take a look.

You don’t need an espresso machine to make a shot, true or false?


Espresso coffee has been around for around 70 years as a concentrated beverage made by inducing high pressure to push water through a finely compacted bed of ground coffee. That was 70 years ago, so we need to look at what that means today.

An espresso shot is a beverage produced via a pressurized flow-through brewing method using between 7 and 10 grams of finely ground coffee per shot, around ½ oz. or 1 oz. of beverage. The water needs to be heated to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit and pushed through at a pressure of 9BAR. The percolation stage is about 20 to 30 seconds.

The coffee can be a blend or single origin, it should be ground to an average of 325 microns, it should be pressed into a puck inside a filter basket.

This will produce an espresso with;

  • Crema on top (mmmm, looks a bit like Guinness!)
  • Clear opaque liquid
  • Between 15 ml and 30 ml (1/2 oz. and 1 oz.) serving
  • 155 F

You need a gadget to produce an espresso shot, a manual machine (will not heat the water) or an electric machine that does both.

If you want to use a manual machine you need a portable camp stove for heating the water.

While we are on this subject, you do not necessarily need a pump either, a lever will do.

If it ain’t got a lever or a pump then it ain’t making an espresso!

Higher BAR is better

  • No, no, no do not fall for that hype!
  • A higher BAR is still only going to give 9BAR of pressure.
  • In fact claims of higher BAR pressure is due to inexpensive pumps which may not give you value for your money

N.B. Rotary pumps come out tops for delivering the right pressure of water with varying dialing features.

N.B If you would like to know more about the gadgetry involved with unbiased information look here.

Medium roast contains more caffeine than dark roast

Actually the opposite is true, when green beans are roasted lots of chemical changes are taking place with gases dissipating and a certain amount of dehydration as well plus chemical changes.

Whilst lots of chemical changes are going on during the roasting, caffeine remains as caffeine, roasting does not “create” caffeine.  As the caffeine remains relatively stable throughout roasting, the darker the roast (the smaller the bean) the more caffeine per gram it contains.  The difference is fairly negligible, around 10% more in dark roast.

So one slightly smaller dark roasted bean compared with one medium roasted bean has the same caffeine.  Got the picture?

Espresso coffees contain more caffeine

Not so! To keep it simple a typical small espresso based Americano has 140 mg of caffeine and a 12 oz. brewed coffee has 240 mg of caffeine.

Quite a surprising fact except when you look at the extraction of the espresso method and the extraction of the brewing method.  Espresso being quick will only extract 75% caffeine, brewing slowly will extract 95% of the caffeine.

So much depends on size and dilution, a bit like alcohol really.  A lot depends on how it is diluted, except with alcohol you use mixers and with coffee you use milk!

Caffeine = flavor

Pure caffeine is bitter, but then so is chocolate in its raw state.

The fact is that the caffeine does not really contribute to the taste of coffee; the “taste” of coffee is a complex combination of chemicals.

Clear as mud

Really none of this is important, what is important is finding unbiased information to help you make a decision when in the market to purchase a new espresso coffee machine.

Linking up with someone who has tried and tested machines for you to help you choose is always going to be helpful.