Do Not Fear The Espresso

Running The Coffee Shelf, closing in on 4½ years, I’ve come to realize there is sometimes a misconception on exactly what espresso is.



Did you know?

  • Two espresso shots with 13 ounces of hot water is almost exactly the same amount of caffeine as one 16-ounce house coffee.


What I am describing, espresso and hot water, is called an Americano, served at most traditional coffee shops. The Americano is not ordered very often. The most common manner in which caffeine is served at coffee houses across our country is via the Cafe Latte, or various versions thereof.


What is a latte? I’ll save this for a future article. For now, let’s briefly review the origins of espresso from the perspective of being an American. Do not fret my friend, there are no history quizzes in your immediate future.



A Lesson in History


Soon after liberating Italy during World War II, our soldiers, being soldiers, wanted coffee.They were served a tiny amount, and it did not sit well with a palate used to a good old cup of jo. A little on the bitter side, to say the least. Soldiers, being soldiers, modified this strange thick coffee to better suit their tastes. They added water.


The Americano tastes nearly the same as a house coffee, though perhaps a bit more rich. Certainly not bitter. Espresso can be viewed as simply another manner to extract the most flavor from ground coffee beans.

  • Brewing methods will be covered in a future article


A latte is a richer method of cutting the bitterness of a shot of espresso. A 16-ounce latte, like a 16-ounce americano, is the same amount of caffeine as a 16-ounce cup of house coffee. And yes, even in a frozen mocha, with our cold brew espresso, and whipped topping with scrumptious chocolate drizzle, you are getting a normal amount of caffeine.


But I Thought Espresso Had More Caffeine


It does. For the amount of liquid in a 1.5 ounce espresso shot, verses 1.5 ounces of coffee. Stated differently, if you ordered ten espresso shots, you would be getting an order of magnitude more caffeine than in one 16-ounce house coffee.

  • If someone were to order this much espresso, I might feel compelled to engage in a conversation regarding “all things in moderation.”


Come to The Coffee Shelf and ask us questions. We pride ourselves on being able to explain the difference between a latte and a cappuccino. If you do ask one of our baristas what exactly your latte consists of, do not be afraid when you hear the word “espresso.”


You are getting a normal amount of caffeine in your latte or mocha, served hot, over ice, or frozen, and it will taste amazing.


Coming soon. A latte or a mocha? What exactly is the difference?


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