What Does Espresso Taste Like: A Primer On Its Flavor

Many non-coffee drinkers will be curious – what does espresso taste like? Many would probably say that it is bitter, especially considering the concentration of coffee in every shot. Nonetheless, a well-made espresso should not only be bitter. It should be an explosion of robust flavors that will be easy to distinguish even for those who are not adept in coffee.

If you want to know the flavor that you can expect from espresso, read on. Later, you will realize that a bitter espresso is not one that has been made properly. It should be perfectly balanced. More than the flavor, it should have the right appearance, which is an obvious indication that it has been prepared by someone who knows what he is doing.​

What Is An Espresso?

espresso cups

Before we go to the main issue, let us first discuss what an espresso is. By knowing what it is and how it is made, you will already have a slight idea on what its taste should be.

In its simplest sense, espresso is a concentrated and full-flavored coffee that is often served as shots. Nonetheless, it also serves for popular coffee-based drinks, such as a latte and cappuccino.

How To Make An Espresso

Depend on your demand, you have to have the best commercial or automatic espresso machine to come up with a robust and flavorful shot of this drink. To make it, hot and pressurized water will be forced into finely ground beans at a minimum of 9 BAR pressure. It needs to be brewed for about 30 seconds. The result is a thick liquid with a rich cream on the top, which is technically known as crema.

What Does Espresso Taste Like?

Tasting Coffee

The first thing that you will notice about an espresso is its bitterness. This is the normal thing to expect since it is a concentrated coffee. From the color of it and considering that it is usually served as a single shot, you will already have an idea of the intense bitterness. This bitterness will also be highly influenced by the variety and quality of the beans that are used.

When discussing the taste of an espresso, we also need to mention acidity. Imagine yourself eating a lemon. The zing that it leaves in your tongue refers to its acidity. Espresso is well-known for its acidity. With this, expect that there will be an acidic aftertaste.

Lastly, espresso also has a hint of sweetness. It is the perfect way to create a well-balanced taste, considering the acidity and bitterness. The roasting process caramelizes the coffee, and every espresso shot should have a distinct sweetness, although such is not pronounced.

Using Espresso in Other Drinks

To lessen the bitterness of espresso while also being able to enjoy the same benefits of caffeine, it is often mixed with other ingredients, including milk, water, and chocolate powder. Here are some of the most popular espresso-based beverages and the flavors that you can expect from each of them:

1. Espresso Macchiato

It is an espresso topped with foamed milk. It has a bold flavor, same to espresso, but slightly milder because of the addition of milk. This is ideal for those who find an espresso shot to be too strong and a cappuccino to be too weak.

2. Espresso Con panna

Another classic Italian favorite, this is basically a shot of espresso that is topped with whipped cream. Because of the whipped cream, you can expect this drink to be creamy and sweet with robust bitterness from the espresso.

3. Cappuccino & Latte

Cappuccino – This drink has an espresso shot at the bottom followed by steamed milk and wet milk. In most cases, there is also a thin foam. It has a lighter taste compared to a single shot of espresso.

A latte, is made from a single espresso shot, a layer of steamed milk, and topped with a milk foam. The milk that is added makes it slightly sweet, but because espresso is strong, there will still be pronounced bitterness.

See also: Difference Between Latte and Cappuccino

4. Café Americano

This is a watered-down shot of an espresso. It is made by combining a single shot of espresso with six to eight ounces of hot water. The flavor is very much similar to what you can expect from brewed coffee.

The Right Way to Drink Espresso

There is a proper way to drink an espresso. It is important to be familiar with this since this will have an impact on the overall experience and the flavor. Even if it is called a shot, do not make a fool out of yourself by thinking that it is meant to be downed like a tequila.

As soon as you receive your shot of espresso, let your sense of smell do the first task. It is important that you smell it first as it will have an impact on what flavor will linger on your tongue. Inhale the aroma and take your first sip. Do this slowly, as if savoring every drop. Let it flow smoothly from your tongue to your throat.


So, what does espresso taste like? Here is a summary of the things that we have earlier discussed in this post:

  • An espresso is bitter, which is basically because it is a concentrated form of coffee. It should also have an acidic aftertaste and a hint of sweetness.
  • Espresso can be mixed with other drinks. This will alter its flavor. Adding milk, for instance, will make it sweeter. Adding more water, on the other hand, will dilute the bitterness and the taste will be reminiscent of a brewed coffee.
  • Never drink your espresso like a tequila shot. Instead, savor the aroma first, sip it slowly, and let it flow all the way smoothly to your throat.

Have you ever tasted espresso? How did it taste like? Is there anything that you would like to add? Take time to leave a comment below and let us know.


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