An Italian Tradition

A wonderful traditional Italian concentrated coffee beverage is espresso. This is brewed by forcing hot water (195 degree Fahrenheit) at high pressure (90 bars) through special coffee ground to a consistency between extremely fine and powder. The appliances that are used to prepare the beverages are the espresso machines. The knowledge and efficiency in making the finest espressos is considered as a craft and the baristas who are adept in using the espresso machines professionally are regarded as skilled craftsmen in this light.

Espresso Types

Espresso:  A dark roasted coffee, prepared by a rapid infusion of very hot water through the coffee grounds. The coffee is served in petit cups. Sometimes served with a twist of lemon. The strength of the coffee is controlled by the darkness of the beans after roasting, how dense they are packed and the amount of water that is forced through them.

Cappuccino:  A combination of one shot of espresso, hot steamed milk, topped with a frothy head of milk, and to top it off a shake of cinnamon or cocoa. It will vary depending on the strength of the espresso.

Caffe Mocha:  One shot of espresso, topped with the froth from hot chocolate.

Caffe Latte:  One shot of espresso with a goodly amount of steamed milk. Some are served with a slightly higher amount of milk than espresso. Lattes are usually topped with a large amount of foam, while others have no foam at all.

Macchiato:  One shot of espresso with a dollop of foam on top. Served in a petit cup.

Latte:  Served in a large glass containing mostly steamed milk with a small amount of espresso on top. The espresso should remain on top but colors the milk a coffee color.

CafeAu Lait:  A mixture of strong coffee (not espresso) and steamed milk. Usually served in bowls.

Caffe Borgia:  A frothy coffee mocha with orange and lemon peels.

Cafe L’Amore:  A petit cup of espresso with a topping of gelato.

Espresso Variations

  • Caffe Ristretto: Concentrated espresso with less water
  • Caffe Lungo: “Long coffee”, made with more water
  • Caffe macchiato: Espresso with a touch of steamed milk
  • Caffe Latte: Coffee with scalded milk usually served in the morning
  • Cappuccino: Coffee topped with the foam of steamed milk. Usually served mid-morning, not after lunch or dinner
  • Caffe Corretto: “Corrected” coffee with a bit of grappa or cognac

Tips for Making a Good Cup of Espresso

  • Choose a good espresso mix. Store beans in a glass or opaque container, well sealed. Avoid very dark colored beans and those that are excessively shiny. The blending and roasting of variety beans is what makes each brand unique.
  • Grind the beans very finely just before using them.
  • If your tap water has too much calcium or other minerals, use bottled water.
  • Use a coffee maker that will make only the number of cups needed.
  • Note: Once you have mastered how to make Italian coffee, it is fun to create some coffee desserts.

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