What Does Espresso Taste Like?

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If you have never had espresso before or you are trying to explain to someone who has never had one before what it tastes like, it can be quite challenging.

The espresso taste should have an intense, slightly sweet, and earthy note and be reminiscent of dark rich chocolate and caramel. The perfect taste results from variables such as grind size, water temperature, water pressure, and extraction time. Espresso should never taste sour, and that is the result of under extraction.

Keep reading while we continue to describe how espresso should taste and learn more about the main elements that can affect the taste. We’ll also discuss the ideal color of the espresso so you can be better informed.

What Is Espresso?

Espresso pulling from the machine

Espresso is a strong and richly-flavored coffee drink. The standard serving is a single “shot” served in a demitasse cup. It’s made by forcing hot water under pressure through finely-ground coffee beans.

Espresso is ground more finely than regular coffee, producing a more concentrated brew with a thick consistency and a rich layer of crema.

Espresso is not just a drink. It’s also the name of the brewing process used to get the espresso drink.

What Color Should Espresso Be?

Double espresso

Everyone knows that presentation matters when it comes to food and beverages, so if you’re trying to sell it, you better make sure it looks good.

The same principle applies to coffee.

The perfect color of the espresso is dark brown, almost black, with a layer of thick micro-foam on top. After a minute, the crema collapses, but it does not change the color of the coffee.

If your espresso is light brown, it’s most likely due to too little extraction. The last time we had a similar problem, it was due to the wrong grind of coffee. Water was leaking through my coffee grind, so espresso was watery, bitter, and lacked crema.

It may take you a few tries to get the process right, but don’t give up after a few bad results.

Ingredients of a Great Espresso

Coffee Beans

Medium roasted coffee beans on a table
Image credit: Yanadhom, Shutterstock

If you prefer a strong Italian espresso, then we recommend medium to dark roast 100% Arabica beans from Colombia, Brazil, or Central America.

Coffee beans storage

If you don’t use fresh coffee beans, you won’t see the beautiful crema in your espresso. We recommend good coffee storage to keep coffee beans fresh.

Filtered Water

Since the drink is 99% water, you should use good quality freshwater when making espresso. Filtered water is always best. If necessary, you can also use bottled water. Although some places have drinkable tap water, we prefer to filter water before putting it in the coffee maker.

Water pressure

Espresso machine brewing a double espresso

Every manual espresso machine has several water pressure settings. To make a good espresso, the machine should be set to at least 9 bars of pressure. Your machine should be preset to this level, but it’s a good idea to check it before taking your first pull.

If the pressure is too low, the extraction will take too long, and the coffee will taste burnt. Too much water pressure will ruin your espresso and dirty your kitchen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does espresso taste like coffee?

Drip coffee tastes different from espresso because espresso is roasted and brewed differently. Espresso usually has a bolder, less acidic flavor, with a more well-rounded and full-bodied finish. It tastes more concentrated and has a rich coffee flavor.

Does a shot of espresso taste like anything?

A small, properly pulled shot of espresso tastes thick and smooth on your tongue, without any distasteful sour or bitter flavors. The flavor should also linger pleasantly on your tongue after drinking the shot.

Is espresso bitter or sweet?

Espresso is made from a finer grind of coffee beans and is brewed at higher pressures in a shorter time than regular coffee.

So espresso is more bitter than regular coffee and has a stronger taste. Still, the best espressos have a slightly sweet dark chocolatey, and light caramel taste, making this little Italian drink special.

The sweetness or bitterness of espresso depends on the type of coffee beans, roast levels, extraction time, and water temperatures.

The Bottom Line

Espresso should be dark brown and almost black in appearance. Never settle for an espresso with no crema. Once you figure out how to make good espresso, your lattes, macchiatos, and other espresso-based drinks will taste much better.

We hope you have enjoyed this article and have found all the answers to what espresso should taste like.


Featured image credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay