What’s the difference between espresso and just plain coffee? According to professional baristas, it doesn’t really matter what kind of bean you use, or how it’s roasted — it’s all in the way the beans are brewed. Forcing pressurized water through finely-ground coffee beans produces a concentrated brew with its signature delicate foam. This foam, or crema, to use its proper name, contains concentrated sugars and oils from the beans, adding a light sweetness that helps balance out the bitterness. Grab an espresso on November 23 to taste the difference for yourself!
National Espresso Day timeline
The latté was invented in America
Lino Meiorin, an Italian-American, claims credit for creating the first caffé latté at Caffe Mediterraneum in Berkeley, California, calling it a "long cappuccino." This is the drink that was renamed and popularized as the latté both nationally and internationally by Starbucks in the late 1980s and 1990s.
Espresso machine improvements were patented; machine production began
After Milan native Luigi Bezzera patented a number of improvements to the espresso machine in 1901, the first of his patents was bought by Desiderio Pavoni, who founded the La Pavoni company and began to produce the machine industrially (one per day) in his workshop in Milan.
The first coffee-making machine was patented in Italy
An Italian named Angelo Moriondo patented a steam-driven "instantaneous" coffee-making device, believed to be the first Italian bar machine that controlled the supply of steam and water separately through the coffee. Unlike true espresso machines, however, Moriondo's machine did not produce individual servings.
National Espresso Day Activities
Learn the "4 Ms" of espresso (spoiler: Italian lesson ahead)
Remember to use a lot of molto Italiano hand gestures when saying these words: la macinazione — the correct, very fine grinding of the coffee beans la macchina — the espresso machine itself la miscela — the coffee blend, often a mixture of high-quality Brazilian beans, but with many variations la mano — the skilled hand of the person making the coffee
Ask your barista for a demonstration
Now that you know the proper terminology, if you're on friendly terms with your neighborhood barista, ask if he or she will show you how the professionals make the perfect cup of espresso. (Just don't do this during the morning rush.) This might also be a great chance for a friend with a new espresso machine to show it off to you.
Enjoy espresso even if you're not a coffee drinker
Try popping a few chocolate-covered espresso beans (in moderation — they pack a punch). If you like a subtle hint of coffee flavor, try adding espresso to a cup of hot chocolate for a mocha treat. Are you a baker? A little espresso powder (not the brewed drink) mixed into chocolate frosting really amps up the sophistication level. Hmm, there seems to be a theme here...chocolate plus espresso equals a match made in heaven.
3 Uncommon Ways To Use Espresso (hint: You Don't Drink Any Of Them)
Add espresso powder to your next batch of cookies
Espresso powder (concentrated coffee granules), can be added to many cake and cookie recipes, such as brownies and chocolate chip cookies, for a delicious mocha flavor twist.
Trade in your usual vinegar for espresso balsamic vinegar
Whether you're making a simple vinaigrette or a complex meat marinade mixture, espresso balsamic vinegar will bring a rich new flavor profile to the table.
Indulge in the Italian confection caffé affogato
One last Italian lesson: this dessert is a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream "drowned" (affogato) by pouring a shot of hot espresso over it — molto delizioso!
Why We Love National Espresso Day
It's an all-day wake-up call
Whether you like your espresso straight up or blended into a latté or cappuccino, just a single shot can perk up even the slowest morning mover. Adding espresso to a chocolate smoothie creates a luscious mocha pick-me-up in the afternoon, and espresso also makes the perfect after-dinner drink, especially if you're having tiramisu for dessert.
It gives us that Euro-chic air
One sip of steaming hot espresso, and we're transported to an Italian piazzo, surrounded by ancient cobblestones, weathered statues, cypress trees, and hundreds of years of history. (Talk about traveling on a budget!) And those tiny cups that espresso is traditionally served in? They're simply molto alla moda (very trendy).
It’s an excuse to try something new (do we need an excuse?)
Are you a strict black coffee person? Try a shot of espresso instead. If you like your morning brew a little lighter, order a latté (you can choose how many shots you want added to that steamy, foamy milk). Or how about espresso added to hot cocoa for a sophisticated mocha drink?