Don't judge me. But before I was a coffee snob, I used to say “Expresso”.
When I got more into the world of coffee, I realized I'd been pronouncing it wrong the whole time. Or so I thought.
There's a time-honored debate amongst coffee lovers over which pronunciation is correct. Is it espresso or is it expresso? If you walk into a cafe and say “expresso”, you'll likely be met with many subtle smirks and scoffs.
The truth is, although most people in the U.S. pronounce the term with an “S”, those who say expresso are actually not wrong. Shocker huh?
It turns out that depending on where you are, expresso can be the proper way to say it. In France, you actually use the “x” when ordering at a cafe. The reason for this is that “expresso” is the actual French term for coffee that's pressure-brewed. That's a tough argument to beat.
Some people purport that “espresso” refers to the brewing nature which causes the caffeinated goodness to be “pressed out”. At the same time, there are others who hold that “expresso” is correct as people in this camp believe it refers to the speed of the brewing process as being “express”. Moreover, it makes sense seeing as how you're also getting an “express dosage” of caffeine.
Complicating matters is the fact because the “x” version is used so often that some dictionaries list it as a variant of espresso. In fact, according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary, “Espresso remains the original borrowed word for the beverage, but X version shows enough use in English to be entered in the dictionary and is not disqualified by the lack of an x in its Italian etymon. Just think of expresso as a quirky, jittery variant.”
Regardless of the fact that dictionaries have co-signed the usage of the “expresso”, most people will still think you are pronouncing espresso wrong if you use an “x”.
So what's the deal? Is it Espresso or Expresso?
The simple answer is that they're both “technically” right. It really depends where you are. As we all know, language is an ever-changing thing and always evolving. What's colloquial or correct one day changes with the ebb and flow of society trends over time.
If you're in the U.S. and want to avoid stares, then make life easy and go with espresso. If you want to prompt stares and a conversation, then expresso should draw the attention you're looking for.
Regardless, the next time someone tries to correct you for saying “expresso”, you can pleasantly smile and ask them for their email so you can send them a link to this article 🙂
Fortunately, espresso and expresso taste equally good no matter how you pronounce them. If you're interested in top quality espresso, check out our full selection of top quality espresso.