Recipe · · Tucson

The Art of Espresso

Someone very near and dear to me bought an espresso machine this week. Since he doesn’t even drink coffee(!), he asked me to help him out and tell what I know about making those fancy coffee drinks. In addition to drinking the stuff, I once even considered buying one of the lovely gadgets; they really are beautiful counter space wasters. Well, I tried to convince him to take the machine back, telling him I thought it’s a waste of money since the real joy of espresso isn’t making it with some expensive machine and, indeed, doesn’t even have that much to do with drinking it. My arguments failed—“I’m keeping it.” so, I went ahead and shared:

ESPRESSO:

Grind espresso beans and load into the cup on the machine and push the button to brew the espresso. Serve in a demitasse cup. If you like it sweet, scoop in a teaspoon of sugar and some cream. Enjoy with the Sunday paper or your credit card bill. Later, feel bored and restless and decide you miss getting out of the house and going to the cafe. Be sure the machine is off and all cleaned up. Lock up the house and go to your favorite neighborhood cafe or cafe bookstore. Visit with friends, read the weekly, have a juice or coffee. Kick yourself for having spent money on a home espresso machine.

CAPUCCINO (espresso with milk foam on top):

  1. Brew an espresso.
  2. While the espresso is brewing steam the milk. You’ll want to steam it such that you make lots of foam. If this is your first couple of times making foam for a capuccino, have gallons and gallons of whole milk handy because it’s a pain in the ass and takes forever to learn to do right even on the best restaurant quality machines.
  3. Pour the espresso into a teacup. Scoop the foam off the top of the steamed milk and gently place on top of the espresso. If you like, sprinkle with cinnamon and/or chocolate. Enjoy with a good book, a magazine, newspaper or your credit card bill. Later, feel bored and restless and decide you miss getting out of the house and going to the cafe. Be sure the machine is off and cleaned up. Lock the house up and go to your favorite neighborhood cafe or cafe bookstore. Visit with friends, read the weekly, have a juice or coffee. Kick yourself for having spent money on a home espresso machine.

LATTE (espresso with steamed milk):

Same as capuccino, except served in a tall glass with the steamed milk INSTEAD of the foam. Enjoy with a good book, a magazine, newspaper or your credit card bill. Later, feel bored and restless and decide you miss getting out of the house and going to the cafe. Be sure the machine is off and cleaned up. Lock the house up and go to your favorite neighborhood cafe or cafe bookstore. Visit with friends, read the weekly, have a juice or coffee. Kick yourself for having spent money on a home espresso machine.

CAFFE MOCHA:

Same as LATTE but with a tablespoon of chocolate syrup (or you can use chocolate milk instead of regular milk).

Enjoy your latte with a good book, a magazine, newspaper or your credit card bill. Later, feel bored and restless and decide you miss getting out of the house and going to the cafe. Be sure the machine is off and cleaned up. Lock the house up and go to your favorite neighborhood cafe or cafe bookstore. Visit with friends, read the weekly, have a juice or coffee. Kick yourself for having spent money on a home espresso machine.

CAFFE AMERICAINE

Look at your shiny clean espresso machine. Make a mental note to pay your credit card bill. Chuckle. You really are living the good life! Lock the house up and go to your favorite neighborhood cafe or cafe bookstore. Visit with friends, read the weekly, order a coffee. Add sugar and milk to taste. Kick yourself for having spent money on a home espresso machine.

WORKDAY VARIATION:

The first day after you buy your machine, you’ll want to enjoy a homemade espresso drink before you start your busy urban professional workday. When you’ve just about finished the beverage, notice you’re going to be late if you don’t get a move on it. Hurry! You can clean the machine when you get home. Once at work, first chance you get, go get your morning mocha or latte anyway. Go back to your desk. Sip slowly. Feel bloated, gassy and jittery. The next day you’ll want to follow the recipe for Caffe Americane, but don’t sit around at the cafe. Get a to go cup. And hurry or you’ll miss your train.