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Expresso vs Espresso? Differences, Latin Origins, Other Countries

One very common type of coffee is espresso, which is often referred to as expresso. Which is correct and how should it be used in English? Here are the differences between expresso vs espresso.

Espresso is an Italian word. Espresso comes from the Latin term exprimere, meaning “pressed out”. The Italian word “espresso” doesn’t mean “express” as in speed, but “to express” a verb referring to the coffee extraction process. In North America, expresso is a common name for espresso.

expresso vs espresso

Angelo Moriondo invented the first espresso machine, patenting it in 1884. For a drink with so much popularity, it is understandable that there would be far more to its story and background than can be mentioned in merely a couple of sentences.

Let’s look further into all kinds of aspects relating to espresso.

Expresso vs Espresso Pronunciation

Here’s how to pronounce each of these words.

  • Espresso: [ e-spres-oh ]
  • Expresso: [ ik-spres-oh ]

The bolded syllable is spoken with emphasis.

espresso pronunciation

Italian and Latin Origins of Espresso/Expresso

The word espresso is Italian, and espresso is translated to mean “pressed-out coffee”.

The primary Latin root involved is the word “to express”. That word has evolved from the Latin term esprimere (which is a past participle for exprimere), and that is interpreted as “press out” or “squeeze out”.

This is an important distinction. The Italian word “espresso” doesn’t mean “express” as in speed, but “to express” a verb referring to the coffee extraction process.

what country does the word espresso come from

Is Expresso Incorrect in English?

Technically, expresso is incorrect, because this isn’t the word to refer to coffee made with the espresso process.

But as often happens with word mistakes, many eventually become part of accepted English vocabulary. Some examples include the words culprit, nickname, and ammunition.

If expresso is a correct word really depends on who you ask.

  • In spoken communication, it can be difficult to tell what a person is saying depending on their accent or dialect.
  • But in written communication, the alternate spelling stands out – especially for coffee lovers.

While the word espresso can sound like “expresso”, they are different words. Expresso is generally considered a variant of espresso.

Here are what three major dictionaries have to say about expresso.

  1. Expresso: Less common variant of espresso: Merriam-Webster
  2. Expresso: Noun in American English. A non-standard variant in British English: Collins Dictionary
  3. Expresso: Noun: Dictionary.com

What is an Espresso?

Espressos are a type of coffee made with ground espresso beans.

Ground, dark roast beans are added to the espresso machine, and pressurized hot water is run through the ground coffee. In a few seconds, you’ll have a shot of delicious and strong espresso.

Learn more about espresso beans and how expressos compare to regular coffee.

Other Countries: Expresso or Espresso

Espressos are a type of coffee that is especially popular in Italy, Portugal, France, Spain, and Latin America. Cuba is especially famous for its sweet, dark roast espresso.

When we lived in Cuenca, Ecuador we often ordered espressos a the cafes in the center. Ecuador grows delicious beans and a freshly pulled shot in Cuenca is second to none.

espresso vs expresso

Espressos vs. Expressos: Common Spelling Misconception

From the beginning, this coffee drink has had the name espresso, referring back to the process of how the drink is made.

However, after some time, the term expresso came about. The reality is, sometimes it sounds like a person is saying “expresso” when they are in actuality saying “espresso”, and that certainly is not a new thing.

Both of the terms became officially part of American English right around the same time, and expresso was even used as a name for the drink in print as early as 1955 when a man used that name in his article in the New York paper. Plus, it fits with the original Latin root.

Common Espresso Misspellings

Expresso is a common misspelling of espresso. Other incorrect spellings and names for this drink are espreso, expreso, esspreso, and exspresso.

It essentially all boils down to this: Using espresso is more proper with British English than American English. And espresso is the normal term in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Latin America.

However, it isn’t quite that way in the United States, and many now approve of referring to espresso as an expresso.

expresso or espresso

Your Turn

Are you in the espresso or expresso camp? How do you like your espresso? Have you tried espresso variations, like ristretto (short shot) or lungo (long shot)?