Is it espresso or expresso? Yes

espresso coffee is a loanword from Italian for coffee made by running hot water over finely roasted beans that are usually roasted. In Italian, the word was probably coined to mean “coffee made on-site to order”, to distinguish espresso from coffee brewed in a pot. In English, we sometimes say that an individual part of something, such as an espresso, is made “explicitly for” someone, and that happens to be show share the source with espresso coffeemake the variant widely used Express both reasonable and etymologically defensible.

At Merriam-Webster, we believe that coffee is the greatest invention in the world, second only to the printing press. (The internet lost a few points because of YouTube comments.) The energy boost provided by a well-timed espresso is what gets our lexicographers through the day.

Only thing, not everyone seems to agree on how to spell it.

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Photo: Probuxtor

Whatever you call it, it has to be Instagram-ready.

What is Espresso?

espresso coffee refers to coffee brewed by forcing steam or hot water through finely ground coffee beans, usually dark roast. In the past, the term was also used to refer to the machine used to prepare said coffee or the establishment that prepares and sells this type of coffee. In Italian, this type of coffee is called espresso coffeeor just espresso coffee for brevity.

Both terms were borrowed into English:

They are the ones who bought silver espresso coffee urn and then television, and they held pizza parties and brought the girls down… Bernard Malamud, magic barrel1958

And sometimes when I’m walking on King’s Road or sipping my wine espresso coffee in the morning – feeling, not exactly old, but strong and mature – and having the opportunity to remember the island, at once anything is possible. Muriel sparks, robinson1958

A Turin-born inventor, Angelo Moriondo, was awarded a patent for a “new steam machine for the immediate and economic production of confectionery coffee drinks” in 1884, but the term espresso coffee was not used until much later, after the movement had been perfected by Luigi Bezzerra and Desiderio Pavoni.

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In the mid-20th century, around the time a coffee shop owner named Achille Gaggia patented the first modern coffee machine for commercial use (and the first to produce a layer of crema that day we now associate espresso coffee), the term espresso coffee entered English.

Because of the similarity of espresso coffee come from english show—and its promise of making coffee at a relatively fast pace in contrast to espresso machines — it naturally got noticed espresso coffee understood as Express, and thus spelled as such. Espresso machines work faster than coffee machines, bringing coffee to customers faster and with less wait times.

Nightlife in Montreal can be inexpensive or expensive. If you’re serious about budgeting, there are cafes where a cup Express It only costs 15 cents. Charles J. Lazarus, New York TimesNovember 27, 1955

Origins of Espresso and Expresso

Express delivery was considered a typo by usage experts, who mocked the deviation from the original Italian. Those experts are encouraged in disapproving the spelling by an early theory surrounding the word’s etymology. The espresso coffee IN espresso coffeeit is believed, not related to the “expressive” nature of the coffee-making process but to the fact that the coffee has been “squeezed out,” espresso coffee quoted as a past participle of first emperorfrom Latin the end, which means “press or squeeze out.” But, as it turns out, there’s a problem with that reasoning.

Exprimere actually means, among other things, “squeeze or squeeze out” in Latin. It is also an ancestor of our word showwhere it means “squeeze (something, such as fruit juice) out”—exact description of what happens when espresso is made: hot water is forced through the grounds by steam pressure ( about nine atmospheres).

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But current etymological theory says that most likely the Italian term espresso coffee coined to refer to the coffee that is literally made on the spot to the customer’s request and not to the “pressing” method by which it is made.

That has led etymologists to rethink the relationship of espresso coffee to the pressing of the beans and back to the delivery method—coffee made to order “clearly” to the customer.

So does this mean we are wrong about Express all this time? Yes and no. espresso coffee is still the original loan word for drinks, but Express shows enough usage in English to be included in the dictionary and not disqualified for lack x in its Italian etymology. just think about Express as an odd, restless variant.

Categories: Usage Notes

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