What is Arabica Espresso?

Niki Foster
Niki Foster

Arabica espresso is a type of coffee. Arabica refers to the species of coffee plant, while espresso refers to both the grind of the coffee bean and the preparation of the drink. Arabica coffee is indigenous to Yemen, and is one of the most common commercially grown coffee species. When the beans are ground very finely, they can be used for Arabica espresso, a very concentrated coffee drink prepared by forcing hot water under pressure through the coffee.

A cup of Arabica espresso.
A cup of Arabica espresso.

Arabica coffee has been grown for over 1,000 years, and is believed to be one of the oldest types of coffee to be cultivated. It has less caffeine than other cultivated species. Arabians were the first to prepare coffee from roasted beans, and the practice was well established by the fifteenth century.

Arabica coffee beans.
Arabica coffee beans.

The Arabica coffee plant takes about seven years to mature. It prefers light shade and does best with about 40 to 59 inches (one to one and a half meters) of rain spread evenly throughout the year. Two to four years into its life cycle, the Arabica plant produces fragrant white flowers similar to jasmine. The flowers last for a few days, and berries begin to form soon after.

Green coffee beans are roasted to make Arabica espresso.
Green coffee beans are roasted to make Arabica espresso.

Coffee berries are actually drupes, like olives, cherries, and nectarines. When they first begin to grow, they are dark green, like the coffee plant's foliage, and they ripen through yellow and light red into a deep red. When ripe, the fruit is harvested. Each berry contains two coffee beans, which are used to make Arabica espresso.

Water is forced through finely ground coffee to make espresso.
Water is forced through finely ground coffee to make espresso.

Before they can be used to make Arabica espresso, the coffee beans are fermented, rinsed in fresh water, and dried. At this point, the coffee beans are known as green coffee. Next, the beans are roasted. They longer they are roasted, the darker the beans will be. Darker roasts are generally smoother and have less caffeine than lighter roasts.

Arabica espresso can be made from any roast of Arabica bean, as long as the bean is ground very finely. The beverage is made with an espresso machine, which uses pressure, often steam pressure, to force hot water through the coffee very quickly. Espresso is a very concentrated beverage which can be enjoyed on its own or used as a base for lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, and other drinks.

Espresso is a highly-concentrated coffee beverage, that is extremely thick in consistency.
Espresso is a highly-concentrated coffee beverage, that is extremely thick in consistency.
Niki Foster
Niki Foster

In addition to her role as a wiseGEEK editor, Niki enjoys educating herself about interesting and unusual topics in order to get ideas for her own articles. She is a graduate of UCLA, where she majored in Linguistics and Anthropology.

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