Traditional Coffee vs Espresso: What's the difference?
Traditional Coffee: Typically prepared from hot water dripped slowly through coarse grounds to create an 8 oz cup. The caffeine content (80-185 mg per 8 ounce cup) is higher than a typical espresso (40-75 mg per 1 ounce), due to the larger volume. Historians place this brew method to sometime between 10th and 15th century AD and the plant/drink originates from Yemen and Ethiopia. Coffee seeds were first exported from East Africa to Yemen, and Yemeni traders brought coffee back to Yemen and began cultivating the seed. By the 16th Century coffee had reached Persia, Turkey, and North Africa, and subsequently Europe and then the rest of the world. This type of preparation has been the predominant method of preparation, especially in America, though alternative brew methods have been on the rise since the 1950s.
Espresso: Very hot water/steam pushed through finely ground coffee beans at 8x or more atmospheric pressure. This alternative brew method can be traced back to the late 19th/early 20th century from Italian patents and the 1-2 oz serving size is a result from the amount of water a person could physically “pull” through the first machines due to their spring/lever design. Pulling a larger amount of water at the typical 8+ bars of pressure on the original espresso machines would be almost impossible due to design limitations (amazing that with the dawn of new technology, and the innovation of Minipresso, an espresso machine now fits in one hand). This method became popularized in Italy as a method of offering fresh single servings, and introduced the types of cafes / espresso bars that are popular today. A unique aspect to espresso is the crema, which results from the emulsification of coffee bean oils reacting to high pressure water as it passes through the grounds while quickly releasing C02 in the process. The darker the crema, the stronger the espresso (the better the extraction). Minipresso is an analog method of espresso making, and creates an espresso that is comparable to high end lever and automatic brewers.