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Espresso v Expresso


Dignan
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I searched, I swear, but I didn't see it here in the forums. Even as I post it, I feel silly.

It's esssssspresso, correct? I run into exxxxxpresso every day, and I need to be reassured.

Chime in, please.

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That's kind of interesting, in a "we've had too much wine" conversation after dinner! You EXpress the coffee, so you'd think it would be expresso.

But it's made quickly, as in ESpresso, the Italian translation. Or wait....ESpresso is Italian for "express"....

Hmmmm.....

Now I'm totally confused. Or is it...cornfused???

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In Italy, its "Caffe". :laugh: That will get you a standard espresso shot.

Then you got Caffe Ristretto, Caffe Lungo, Caffe Americano and a few other varieties depending on how strong you want it.

Only in the US does it get referred to as "Espresso".

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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The Italian "espresso" does not as far as I know have anything directly to do with speed. I believe it means "pressed out," just as one of the definitions of the English "express" means "to force out by pressure."

Combined with frequent common usage, I assume that's why every English-language dictionary I've seen lists "expresso" as an acceptable variant. In the UK in particular, they all seem to say it that way.

That being said, I think around English speakers who are seriously into coffee you're better off with "espresso."

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Actually, espresso does, in fact, refer to being made quickly... in addition to describing the method of extraction. Actually, "espresso" has a number of types of meaning in Italian. As described above, one is the process of "expressing" the flavour of coffee. Another is to make the coffee quickly. And finally, Luigi Bezzera created and popularized "caffe expres" in 1901, a coffee making method that created a single cup of coffee "expressly for you." This was an early precurrsor to true espresso machines and there is little doubt that the name derives from this. In fact, to the best of my knowledge, the first use of "caffe espresso" as a phrase was in the 1906 International Trade Fair in Milan where Bezzera was an exhibitor and offered caffe espresso made from the Ideale machine. By 1909 the Ideale machine was being sold by Desiderio Pavoni (who obtained the Bezzera patent in 1903), with the key addition of a steam relief valve. This was the basic type of machine used until 1948, but the coffee being produced by it would not be recognizable by any of us as espresso. It was not until Gaggia introduced the first lever machine in 1948 that true espresso was created.

fanatic...

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This was the basic type of machine used until 1948, but the coffee being produced by it would not be recognizable by any of us as espresso.

Not having tried coffee from a machine of the described style, I am curious. Is it closer to Moka coffee in terms of body, flavor and consistency?

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This was the basic type of machine used until 1948, but the coffee being produced by it would not be recognizable by any of us as espresso.

Not having tried coffee from a machine of the described style, I am curious. Is it closer to Moka coffee in terms of body, flavor and consistency?

He's talking about in La Pavoni. The machines go for about 400-600 bucks, and as far as I am concerned its espresso, not moka. Ive had shots pulled from these things, its awesome, but you gotta know what you are doing. The margin for error on using these things is considerable and they are a bitch to maintain.

http://www.cafemaison.com/lapav16cuppr.html

The design that is sold today is for the most part still based on 1920's technology even though it was last revised in the 1960's.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Am I the only one who hears EXpresso from folks? I think I even heard Mario saying it in a recent show. It might be my ears... I get tinnitus....

I have definitely heard Mario say "expresso," and get a quizzical look on my face every time... :huh:

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Merriam-Webster says: "Etymology: Italian (caffè) espresso, literally, pressed out coffee." But even if the "espress" root has multiple meanings in this context they're all equivalent to "express" in English. So the use of "expresso" by English speakers is hardly surprising. I favor "espresso" but I wouldn't criticize someone for saying "expresso."

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Several things here... regardless of what Merriam-Webster says, "espresso" does not mean that the coffee is "expressed" as in "forced out (as the juice of a fruit) by pressure." I'll take a look in my Zingarelli when I get back home, but I don't recall hearing the word used in this sense.

Used as a verb, espresso is the past participle of the verb esprimere, which means "to express, as in to voice an opinion" and also "to express, as in to convey a true impression of e.g., the flavor of the coffee beans, one's internal torment, whatever." AFAIK, one does not "esprima" the juice out of a lemon, the oil out of an olive, or the coffee out of coffee beans. The verb for that is spremere, which means "to squeeze e.g., the juice out of a lemon or the answer out of one's mind" or "to press e.g., the oil out of an olive." This is the verb that would tend to go with the meaning "pressed out coffee," in which case we would all be asking for spremuto (the past participle of spremere). This would make things very confusing, since "spremuta" (literally "squeezed") is generally taken to mean "fresh fruit juice."

malachi has the right idea and the history seems correct.

Used as a adjective, espresso either indicates specificity (as in, "expressly for you" or "my express desire") or speed (as in, "express train"). I have understood in the past that "caffè espresso" or "caffè all'espresso" means "coffee made quickly." I have a hard time thinking that the "espresso" used to describe coffee is used in the part participle sense. If it were, then I think most Italians would be calling the product "espresso" just like they do "spremuta." But they don't, they call it "caffè."

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He's talking about in La Pavoni. The machines go for about 400-600 bucks, and as far as I am concerned its espresso, not moka. Ive had shots pulled from these things, its awesome, but you gotta know what you are doing. The margin for error on using these things is considerable and they are a bitch to maintain.

Actually, I'm talking about the very original Pavoni, which was before the lever Pavoni machines. The La Pavoni lever machines, do, in fact, produce espresso, but they were not introduced until after Gaggia introduced the first lever machines.

fanatic...

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This was the basic type of machine used until 1948, but the coffee being produced by it would not be recognizable by any of us as espresso.

Not having tried coffee from a machine of the described style, I am curious. Is it closer to Moka coffee in terms of body, flavor and consistency?

It is closer to the coffee produced by a Moka pot, but has even less crema. It's better described as a "quick brewed" coffee than a "pressure brewed" coffee.

fanatic...

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The design that is sold today is for the most part still based on 1920's technology even though it was last revised in the 1960's.

The key dates in espresso machine technology are 1901, 1948 and 1961 (boiler and portafilter design, lever pressure, modern style pump) though some might consider the addition of dates associated with the development of the pressure relief valve, three-way solenoid and automatic volumetric dosage.

fanatic...

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American Heritage says "ETYMOLOGY: Italian (caffè) espresso, espresso (coffee), past participle of esprimere, to press out, from Latin exprimere : ex-, ex- + premere, to press; see per-4 in Appendix I."

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Not exactly here or there in terms of topicality but the first commercial espresso machine ever placed in Noth America was a La Pavoni. It's still on display in the same place where it was originally installed in 1927: Caffe Reggio on MacDougal Street. Not one of my better pictures but it's a magnificent machine and worth seeing both for historical interest and as an industrial design statement of the era.

i5753.jpg

Machine #1

i5755.jpg

Cafe Reggio

This place is just dripping with authentic old NY atmosphere. They offer decent soup, excellent panini sandwiches and, ironically ebough, the espresso drinks are truly mediocre.

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American Heritage says "ETYMOLOGY: Italian (caffè) espresso, espresso (coffee), past participle of esprimere, to press out, from Latin exprimere : ex-, ex- + premere, to press; see per-4 in Appendix I."

Sorry... but that's just not what it seems to be in Italian, at least in terms of how the word is used in modern times, and the usage to describe coffee making is a modern one. I checked a good Italian-English dictionary at Barnes & Noble over lunch, and nothing there led me to think that it has the modern connotation you describe. When I get home, I'll post the entry from Lo Zingarelli, which is like the OED for Italian. Until then, we have this definition from wordreference.com:

esprimere [es'primere]

1 (vt) (vb irreg) to express;

(opinione) to voice, express;

I'm also not sure that their derivation follows quite the way we might think it does. Esprimere certainly seems like it is grew from the Latin exprimere meaning "out (ex-) to press (premere)." This seems reasonable to me. It also seems inevitable that spremere shares the same origin. Now, however, these two verbs do not have the same meaning despite their shared ancestor. So, while "espresso" might ultimately be traced back to a Latin word meaning "to press out" that doesn't indicate to me that caffè espresso in modern Italian means "pressed out coffee." Who knows, though? We'll see what the Zingarelli guys say.

--

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The design that is sold today is for the most part still based on 1920's technology even though it was last revised in the 1960's.

The key dates in espresso machine technology are 1901, 1948 and 1961 (boiler and portafilter design, lever pressure, modern style pump) though some might consider the addition of dates associated with the development of the pressure relief valve, three-way solenoid and automatic volumetric dosage.

I did not know that.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Allora. From the Harper Collins Sansoni Unabridged Italian-English Dictionary (IMO, the best Italian-English dictionary):

esprimere v.t. (espressi, espresso) 1 (manifesare) to express: ~ le proprie idee  to express one's ideas; (pronunciare) to express, to utter, to state, to voice: ~ la propria opinione to state (o voice) one's opinion. 2 (significare) to express, to mean: questa frase non esprime nulla this sentence does not mean a thing. 3 (rappresentare) to express: nel paesaggi lunari l'artista esprime la sua malinconia in his lunar landscapes the artist expresses his melancholy.

espresso (p.p. di esprimere) I a. 1 (manifesto) express, explicit: sono venuto per tuo ~ desiderio I have come at your express wish. 2 (veloce, rapido) express, fast: treno ~ express train. 3 inv. <Post> express <am> special delivery-: lettera ~ express letter. II s.m. (lettera espresso) express letter, <am> special delivery letter; (francobollo espresso) express stamp, <am> special delivery stamp; (scritta sulle lettere Express <am Special Delivery. 2 <Ferr> (treno espresso) express (train). 3 (caffè espresso) espresso. Idomatic expressions per ~ by express, <am> by special delivery; consegna per ~ express; spedire una lettera per ~ to send a letter express; piatto ~ dish cooked upon request

Note: nothing above about pressing anything out.

Lo Zingarelli says:

esprimere o *espremere, *ispremere, *sprimere [vc. dotta, lat. exprimere 'premere (premere) per far uscire (ex-)'; sec XIII] A. v. tr. (pass. rem. io esprèssi, tu esprimésti; part. pass. esprèsso) 1 Manifestare con atti e parole [to manifest with actions and words] . . . 2 Tradurre in espressione artistica [to translate in artistic expression] . . . 3 Generare, produrre [to generate, to produce] . . . 4 *Spremere. [to squeeze] 5 (fig) *Trarre fuori [to draw out] B v. intr. pron [esprimersi]

espresso (1) o *ispresso, *spresso [av. 1292] A part. pass di esprimere; anche agg.  1  Dichiarato o manifestato esplicitamente [Declared or manifested explicitly] 2 (raro lett.) Appositamente mandato [Purposely sent]

espresso (2) [ingl. express dal fr. exprès 'espresso'; 1853] A Celere, rapido [quick, rapid] | Detto di cibo o bevanda preparati sul momento per chi li richiede [said of food or drink prepared at the moment for he/she who requests it]: piatto e.; spaghetti espressi; caffè e. [express dish, express spaghetti, express coffee] B in funzione di agg. inv. Detto di corrispondenza che viene recapitata con maggiore celerità e che richiede un'affrancatura di maggiore importo rispetto a quella ordinaria [said of correspondence that comes delivered with blah blah blah] C s.m. 1 (ellit.) [elliptical] Caffè espresso: chiedere, bere un e. [to ask (for), drink an espresso]. . .

* = parola o accenzione arcaica [archaic word or meaning]

This is more interesting and informative. Here we see that esprimere word does, in fact, come from the Latin exprimere. We also I think we get the real deal in espresso (2) A, which pretty much tells us that caffè espresso means either "coffee made quickly," or "coffee made at the moment for someone" -- or, most likely, both.

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