The Great Expresso and Espresso Debate

A shot of Expresso

I feel stupid almost every time I enter a coffee shop.

“Yes, I’d like a 16oz latte with 4 shots of espresso.”

“Sure.” the barista says.

He continues, talking to one of his co-workers, “Medium latte with four shots of expresso.”

“Got it, four shots of expresso.”

I always thought that the term was espresso (as in ES), but it turns out I’m wrong. The correct terminology for ordering my intense caffeine fix is not Espresso, but rather EXpresso (like expressway).

Ask just about anyone on the street: “Hey, what are those caffeine shots they put in coffee beverages?”

“Dude, everyone knows it’s expresso.”

Damn! How could I have been so freakin’ clueless this whole time?

You mean, every since I started experiencing the joy of overpriced coffee, I’ve been an idiot? Yep.

So next time you’re in that coffee shop, order your expresso with style and enunciate your sentence as if you were in slow motion, “Hi, I’d like an expresso.”

End of Sarcasm

You see, according to the Wiktionary (weird name, but okay), EXpresso is an alternate spelling of ESpresso.

Yep, you just read that right. For people who have trouble with putting the letter S after the E, there’s an alternative where you can put the X after the E (this could very well be the same situation where people replace the SK in ASK with an X). Convenient, right?

So the next time, someone says, “I’d like an expresso”, they’re right. They’re just using the “alternate” word that is technically correct.

However, I can still scoff and secretly call the person an idiot while I order my espresso.

15 thoughts on “The Great Expresso and Espresso Debate”

  1. Here is a thought since you mentioned it. the original word for ask was AX. people think it is a mispronunciation when some say ax rather than ask (which it is) but they could be using the first original spelling. ha ha yea right. Strange but true!

  2. This will be an ending spelling debate if they don’t know about this. But there’s a lot of word in English dictionary that got alternate spelling and if you’re not aware, you’ll surely think others are ‘idiot’ even they’ve used it correctly and vis versa. They will think the same way when they know a different correct spelling. I am thinking right now what the barista is thinking about you, Ron. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hahaha.

    There were a couple of times when I overheard someone having a problem with the EX and the ES. I always order a Frap but it’s a good thing you shared this.

  4. It is a difficult one and Italian for sure, experts in coffee and coffee machines!!
    That is why the confusion…in Italian the “X” is pronounced as “ks” so we are fortunate that the word espresso or expresso is not actually EKSPRESSO!!

  5. Why not just skip all the spelling hype..and order a good ol plain large coffee! EX or ES won’t matter and you get the same benefit without the hassle. I guess I’m just to “out of it” to understand.


  6. Coffee is like beer, wine or any other beverage.

    There are those like my Wife who don’t understand why I’m not real fond of Maxwell House out of the larger #10 tin cans. To her coffee is coffee and she’s perfectly happy with whatever she gets from the local drive through.

    But then there are those like me who like the flavor and aroma of really fresh coffee. To me a just opened can of Maxwell House is really great coffee but the moment air gets to the fresh grounds that wonderful aroma starts going away. And by the time you get 20% into the can, it’s just coffee!

    I guess you would call someone like me a coffee snob. I can order a cup of coffee at a restaraunt and tell you from the aroma if the grounds are stale. If it’s not a “good cup of coffee” it’s going back and I’m ordering a diet soda or a beer. I’ve even had the waiter or waitress tell me “are you shure, we just made it fresh”. The pot may have just been made but the grounds were far from fresh.

    I also like Expresso drinks for the same reason. The beans are ground fresh and a good machine extracts as much flavor and aroma as possible while leaving most of the bitterness behind.


  7. Ronald, you’re right. I heard “expresso” everywhere รขโ‚ฌโ€ mostly mispronounced by people who don’t have a feeling for language.

    It is a very common thing though: Language gets less precise due to more and more people using it very carelessly.

    It is Italian, it is espresso. And I like it best in Rome, where no one would say “expresso”.


  8. Quite right!
    “Espresso literally has three meanings: prepared ‘under pressure’, prepared ‘expressly’ for a person, or prepared ‘quickly’. ” – How to Make Really Good Coffee (Jessica Godfrey)

    So if the above is correct according to the book, then “expresso” is also valid if you want it made quickly.

  9. There are too many illiterate people in the world who are not only illiterate, but clueless. Another example is when someone says, “let me axe you a quershtun,” as in let me ask you a question. Another example is when someone says that something good is “bad”, or “sick.” They are the ones who will never know or even understand the true meanings of words in the original English language. It’s unfortunate!

  10. Now, back to what I was trying to add to my former post before the editing clock ran out of time. The word espresso (Italian) refers to water under pressure in the process of making strong black coffee. The word “expresso” has absolutely no meaning whatsoever. It’s a mispronunciation of the correct word which is espresso.

  11. I came across this article today in 2020… so 10 years after the original publication. It seems we “espresso” advocates have made little headway in 10 years! I run a coffee machine company and my goodness what an uphill battle… even with my new staff who get the evil eye until they learn to rid themselves of their “dirty” vocabulary. I too, have to hold my tongue when hearing the “X” word…. or I simply get my coffee and as I walk past the “offender” tell them that this is one of the better eSSSSSSpresso’s in town!”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top