Espresso Ecstasy

Espresso drinks with all their endless permutations have been the rage in coffee meccas like Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area for several years. Now, the java flood is spreading.

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Crema: The froth that sits atop a perfectly made cup of espresso.
Espresso Romano: Espresso with a twist of lemon peel.
Con Panna: Espresso with a dollop of cold whipped cream.
Cappuccino: Ideally made with equal amounts of espresso, steamed milk and foam.
Caffé Latte (latte): Espresso with lots of steamed milk and a small head of foam.
Café Au Lait: Often confused with caffè latte, it is usually made with filtered coffee rather than espresso, combined with an equal amount of steamed milk and served in large bowls as a breakfast drink.
Macchiato: Espresso "marked" with a small amount of foamed milk.
Latte Macchiato: The reverse of a macchiato: steamed milk and foam marked by a shot of espresso.
Caffé Mocha (mocha, moccaccino): Espresso mixed with chocolate and steamed milk.
Breve: Caffè latte made with half and half rather than milk.
* Use filtered water to avoid mineral deposits that can build up in a machine.
* Press the grounds or "tamp" them firmly in the filter. Patrick Main, of Peet's Coffee & Tea in San Francisco, suggests giving the tamper a little twist to "get the grounds all going in the same direction."
* Prime the machine before brewing by opening the steam valve for about 20 seconds and letting a little water go through the filter. Lack of regular priming, says Raich, is the biggest reason for machine failure.
When you make espresso at home, think of it as an art, not a science. You're going to have to tinker to get things just the way you want. But with some practice, you can go eyeball to eyeball with your local barista and not blink.
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