Decoding Espresso Jargon: A Glossary of Espresso Terms for Beginners

Decoding Espresso Jargon: A Glossary of Espresso Terms for Beginners - Comiso Coffee

Navigating the world of espresso can be overwhelming for beginners, especially when faced with a barrage of industry-specific jargon. Understanding these terms is essential for brewing the perfect espresso and fully enjoying the coffee experience. This glossary will demystify common espresso terms, providing you with the knowledge needed to become a confident home barista.


An Americano is a coffee drink made by adding hot water to a shot of espresso. This dilutes the espresso, creating a coffee similar in strength to drip coffee but with a distinct espresso flavor.


A barista is a person who prepares and serves coffee beverages, typically in a coffee shop. Skilled baristas are knowledgeable about different brewing methods and techniques for creating high-quality espresso drinks.


Crema is the golden, creamy layer that forms on top of a freshly pulled espresso shot. It is created by the emulsification of oils in the coffee and indicates a well-extracted espresso.


The dose refers to the amount of ground coffee used to make an espresso shot. It is typically measured in grams and can vary depending on the desired strength and flavor profile of the espresso.


Extraction is the process of dissolving coffee grounds in water to create an espresso. Proper extraction is crucial for achieving the right balance of flavors; over-extraction leads to bitterness, while under-extraction results in sourness.


Espresso is a concentrated coffee beverage brewed by forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee under high pressure. It is the base for many other coffee drinks, such as lattes and cappuccinos.


The grouphead is the part of an espresso machine where the portafilter locks in. It distributes hot water evenly through the coffee grounds, playing a critical role in the extraction process.


A latte is an espresso-based drink made with steamed milk and a small amount of milk foam. It is typically served in a larger cup and has a creamy, smooth texture.


A portafilter is a handle with a basket that holds the ground coffee. It locks into the grouphead of an espresso machine and allows water to pass through the coffee grounds during extraction.


The puck is the used coffee grounds left in the portafilter after brewing an espresso shot. A well-formed puck can indicate a properly dosed and tamped espresso.


"Pulling a shot" refers to the process of brewing an espresso. This term originates from older espresso machines that required a lever to be pulled to brew a shot.


A ristretto is a short shot of espresso made with the same amount of coffee but half the water of a regular espresso. It results in a more concentrated, richer flavor.


A shot of espresso is a single serving of espresso, typically about one ounce. A double shot uses twice the amount of coffee and yields about two ounces of espresso.


Tamping is the process of compressing coffee grounds in the portafilter to create an even and level surface. Proper tamping is essential for ensuring uniform extraction.

Steam Wand

The steam wand is a component of an espresso machine used to steam and froth milk. It introduces steam into the milk, creating microfoam for drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.

PID Controller

A PID (Proportional-Integral-Derivative) controller is a device that maintains the temperature of an espresso machine. It ensures stable brewing temperature, crucial for consistent espresso quality.

Brew Ratio

The brew ratio is the ratio of coffee grounds to water used in brewing espresso. It influences the strength and flavor of the final shot, with common ratios being 1:2 (coffee to water).

Pressure Profiling/Flow Control

Pressure profiling refers to the ability to control the pressure at different stages of the espresso extraction process. It allows baristas to customize the flavor and texture of the espresso.


Prosumer espresso machines are high-end machines designed for home use but incorporate commercial-grade features. They bridge the gap between consumer and professional equipment, providing advanced functionality and performance.

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