Where to Find the Best Espresso Coffee

Espresso coffee, or as it is usually spelled, "espresso," or "cafe' espresso," is a beverage made by forcing steam or pressurized hot water through finely ground coffee. It differs from drip brewed coffee primarily in the fineness of the grind. It also typically has a slightly thicker consistency and a higher caffeine content. Espresso was invented in Milan, Italy in the early 1900s, and the best espresso coffee is still produced in Europe, according to some coffee enthusiasts. While espresso coffee has been popular in Europe for decades, it has, in recent years, become very popular in the U.S., especially with the rise in popularity of coffee houses advertising various specialty drinks made with espresso.

Espresso and Other Coffee Drinks

Because Italian-style espresso coffee concentrates all the coffee's flavors, it is used as the basis for many coffee drinks, such as lattes, mochas, cappuccinos, and macchiatos. At many places in Europe, if you simply order "coffee," you will probably be served espresso coffee. If you want American-style coffee with cream or milk, you should order "American coffee" (caffe' americano, in Italy, for example).

Making Your Own Espresso

Since the water temperature and pressure are critical for making the best espresso coffee, if you want to make your own, you'll need an espresso machine. What you will find when you start looking at machines is that a very wide range exists in pricing, depending on features and capacity. A recent online survey reveals prices ranging from $244 for the Krups machine to over $5,000 for the best espresso coffee machines from Italian manufacturers. Whether your budget allows you to consider the top end of the price range or you need to focus on the economy end of the range, a good machine can help you get the best espresso coffee experience possible. The most important factors in making the best espresso coffee are precise control of water temperature and pressure. If these factors are not consistently controlled, the coffee will often be bitter and acidic, though still very strong.

Best Ways to Enjoy Espresso Coffee

Many coffee lovers enjoy the full jolt of espresso, unadulterated and straight with perhaps a sprinkling of sugar across the frothy crema head. However, there are many other ways to enjoy espresso coffee's best qualities. Cappuchino is one third espresso, one third milk, and one third milk foam, often with a sprinkling of cocoa powder atop the foam. Latte' is one third espresso, two thirds milk. Caffe' macchiato, named from the Italian words for "spotted coffee," is a shot of espresso with a dollop of frothed milk.