What is an Espresso?

January 10, 2017 | Insta Barista

Worldwide, over 500 billion cups of coffee are enjoyed every year and the fastest growing segment of which espresso coffees 14 billion cups consumed annually.

It all starts with a beautiful plant...
A blend of bean

Many hold the misconception that espresso is a dark, bitter flavoured roast of coffee. In fact, espresso is not a roast at all. Espresso is a blend of bean. The most basic rule of espresso blending is that espresso must have subdued acidity, be heavy bodied, and be sweet enough to balance the bitter and acidic flavours in the blend.

There are two varieties of plants, Arabica and Robusta.

Arabica originated in Ethiopia, is typically grown in higher altitudes and accounts for 75-80% of the world’s production.

Robusta, on the other hand, is a lowland coffee species that originated in West Africa. It features greater pest resistance and a generally heartier plant, which results in higher overall yields — but its high caffeine content gives it an intensely bitter and inferior taste. Some very carefully grown and processed Robusta can be found in premium espresso blends as they can improve the "crema" and body.

Like wine the memorable and distinctive tastes will depend on the origin, weather, temperature, altitude and soil. The process, after the beans have been picked:

Natural or Drying Process:

Areas of limited rainfall, beans are air dried on patios prior to skin and fruit removal. This process creates a heavier bodied coffee with sweeter and smoother tastes. Because of lessened acidity it generally produces more "crema" during the espresso extraction.

Wet Process:

Coffee cherries are sorted in high-pressure water tanks, which remove the skins, and the fruit stays on the bean during drying. Providing a cleaner taste with a brighter and fruiter flavor.

Pulped Process:

Incorporates both the wet and dry processes. Beans grown in areas with low humidity allow beans to dry faster without fermentation. The end result is a full-bodied bean similar in characteristics as the dry process but somewhat sweeter than a bean that has been wet processed.

Once the coffee is grown, picked and processed, it’s time for the roast!

Roasters create different blends with a specific flavour profile in mind. The roasting process is what produces the characteristic flavour of coffee by causing the green coffee beans to change in taste.

Roasters incorporate different beans in the blend in order to maintain a consistent flavour throughout the year.

Unroasted beans contain similar if not higher levels of acids, protein, sugars, and caffeine as those that have been roasted, but lack the taste of roasted coffee beans due to the Maillard and other chemical reactions that occur during roasting.

Clearly, many factors play a role in creating the perfect espresso. Various blends deliver joyful..and often not so joyful experiences. We here at Insta Barista hope your espresso experience is forever joyful!

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