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Espresso: Grounds for Celebration!
- How to make the perfect cup -

a cup of espressoFor after dinner relaxing, coffee is a traditional choice.

If you aren't familiar with espresso - except for excursions out to Italian restaurants - next time try simple homemade espresso to add a festive note to any meal.

You'll need espresso coffee to get the right taste. You can pick up pre-ground espresso at most major grocery stores, or try the pre-measured espresso pods. Lavazza or Moka d' Ora are the two most common brands of pre-ground.

You can also visit your favorite local coffee bean shop and pick out the gourmet beans you like best. Espresso purists will say that you'll need to use the beans freshly ground to get the full flavor. The experts are right, but the pre-ground brands are very close in taste and unless you intend to offer espresso to the experts, the supermarket brands or espresso pods are fine.

To brew a real espresso, you should have an espresso machine. A professional espresso machine will cost upwards of $300. The pressurized water being forced through the ground coffee is what makes a good espresso, but a decent substitute can be prepared with your regular pot.

espresso machine and traditional pot
A modern espresso machine, left,
and the traditional Italian coffee
pot for making espresso, right.

With the traditional method, you will lose the crema, (that lighter colored frothy layer that true espresso lovers enjoy), but the coffee itself will be a strong dark brew that works well in recipes.

Espresso brewed this way is usually called Cafe Americano - because it is closer to American coffee than real espresso. You can also pick up a small metal Italian coffee pot which brews a pretty acceptable version of espresso - just experiment a bit before you offer your guests a cup.

Espresso can be served plain, with bit of sugar, a twist of lemon peel or it can be accompanied by sambuca, grappa, anisette or other after dinner liqueurs.

Espresso served with lots of steamed milk is called cappuccino. For macho coffee drinkers who prefer just a spoonful of milk, it's called macchiato. Cappuccino is normally a morning drink in Italy, but the rest of the world enjoys it any time of the day.

A word about lemon peels - if you order espresso in Italy, don't ask for the lemon peel. It's an American innovation and Italians think it ruins the coffee!

also see -> Gourmet Coffee Party Recipes

Cappuccino Recipes & How To's




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