Did You Celebrate National Espresso Day?
The espresso is the basis for all our favourite coffee-based beverages, from the latte and cappuccino to the flat white and Americano. If you have a coffee shop, hopefully you didn’t miss the chance to celebrate National Espresso Day, which is on 23rd November each year.
With National Espresso Day having just passed, it’s as good a time as any to look at the origins of this humble coffee and just why it’s become such a popular drink.
We’ll start with a bit of history – do you know where the espresso originates from? Of course, it’s an Italian invention, with this type of coffee first being recorded in the early 20th century. Luigi Bezzera, the owner of a manufacturing plant, is credited with inventing the espresso, after becoming frustrated at how long it took to make coffee.
The process of brewing the coffee by forcing pressurised hot water through the coffee grounds was born, and became a popular addition to coffee shops in Italy and around the world.
But it wasn’t Bezerra who popularised it, despite being the one who developed the first espresso machine. He sold his invention to Desidero Pavoni in 1905, and it was this gentleman who successfully marketed it, after patenting the idea.
Of course, the espresso machine has been altered since these early iterations, with Achille Gaggia making the most notable change to the technology in 1940 when he created a piston-based machine.
The advantage of this is that it improved the taste of the coffee by getting rid of the burnt flavour common with early espresso machines. It’s this kind of espresso machine that’s found in coffee shops, bars and restaurants – and even homes – all over the world.
Our love affair with coffee has grown in recent years, and there aren’t many streets now without a coffee shop of some description. And of course many bars and restaurants have their own espresso machine and private label coffee, enabling them to serve coffees, as well as coffee-flavoured cocktails.
The espresso martini is undoubtedly one of the most popular – a cocktail invented by Tia Maria all the way back in the 1980s. This blends vodka, Tia Maria and a dash of sugar syrup with either a double or single espresso (depending on how strong you want your tipple).
But this is far from the only coffee-infused cocktail – and the rise in popularity of this kind of beverage has made an espresso machine an essential piece of equipment in many bars around the country.
Warm coffees with alcohol in them are always popular in the winter, so the likes of Irish coffee, where a dash of whiskey is added, Jamaican coffee (rum) and even Mexican coffee (tequila) are all good things to feature on menus at this time of the year.
More adventurous bars can also experiment with their own coffee-based cocktails, creating alcoholic concoctions that mimic many of the flavoured coffees that appear on cafe menus in the run up to Christmas – think flavours such as gingerbread, hazelnut and even orange.