Tell me about espresso


 

Rich G

TVWBB Diamond Member
We love our espresso...,my setup at home. Fell in love with espresso (and also a great cappuccino) on a trip to Cuba where I spent every moment I could in the cigar and espresso bars...don't think I slept in 14 days.

Came home and went down the espresso rabbit hole.

A great espresso can be anything from a blueberry or cherry bomb, lightly citrus and floral, or deep smokey and chocolate. So much variety. Some are amazing and need to be savored, and some can be harsh, but then go amazingly well cut with a well done milk or cream. I love a great Americano as well.
Thanks for illustrating what I posted about above, Grant! :) That's a really nice set up, those Elektras are great machines. I never graduated past my La Pavoni Europiccola lever that I restored. :)

R
 

GrantT

TVWBB Super Fan
I bought the Elektra used in 2009 (I think) and it was originally made in 2005. It has pretty well been running 24x7 for over 12 years. Shut it down a few times to replace a few parts, but other than that, has served me well. It's a fire-breathing dragon of a machine but pulls a great shot of espresso when you learn how to control it. Overkill for the two of us...but almost a piece of art. I'll likely keep it forever.

To be clear, the actual espresso machine itself is probably #3 in the priority list when it comes to making a good espresso. It helps with some factors (temperature control, pressure etc) but really is not the most critical factor or piece of equipment. More expensive machines have more control over timing, adjustable pressure profiling, accuracy of temperature...but these are all somewhat secondary to be honest.

1) Without really good quality and properly roasted beans, there is nothing you can do to make something drinkable with whatever grinder or espresso machine you have.

2) Without a GOOD (GREAT!!!) grinder, it doesn't matter what type of espresso machine you have either. The least expensive espresso machines make *almost* as good as espresso from a machine 15x - 20x their cost. If you destroy the taste/flavor of a good bean by running it through a horrible grinder, there is no point in trying to salvage anything else with the machine.

Spend your first $2000 on a grinder!!
 
Espresso is to be savored. I see people slamming espresso like tequila. I guess they've clearly never been to Italy and have not immersed themselves in the "culture" we Italians love.

Absolutely. If you visit a coffee shop in Italy, you will see folks hanging out for very looooong periods of time discussing soccer, politics, whatever while nursing comically tiny (as compared to the size of American Joe) cups of coffee.

Interestingly, it took Starbucks 47 years to get up the courage to open up their first store in Italy.
 

Bob Bass

TVWBB Guru
Our Nespresso unit gets used daily (Peets pods). Wife is so into it, we ended up buying a boiler and grinder for her birthday.

A nice beginner set from Whole Latte Love :
Eureka Mignon Facile Espresso Grinder
Gaggia Classic Pro
with a gaggle of undated "tools" ;)
 

Rick Poch

TVWBB Super Fan
I get you, thanks pal.
I miss visiting with a friend of long standing who used to pull a great cup from her “La Pavoni” she is still around but, not as close as she used to be. Geographically that is.
I still have one of the La Pavoni machines that my Dad bought in Naples, back in '78. It's been used so much that the seals had to be replaced twice.
There's an art to it, between the grind, the amount, how firmly you pack it, and knowing when and how to use the lever.
A bartender at at the bar in Bldg "L" at the NATO base in Naples taught my Dad & I how to use it. It took some time to master but it's worth the effort. It makes killer espresso and you could almost float a coin on the foam for cappuccino.
The seals need to be replaced, again.:cautious: Since I'm the only coffee drinker, and I don't drink Cappuccino anymore, there's no rush. That, and it costs a small fortune.
All that being said...the Bialetti makes a damn good cup of espresso.
 

MichaelLC

TVWBB Fan
Espresso is to be savored. I see people slamming espresso like tequila. I guess they've clearly never been to Italy and have not immersed themselves in the "culture" we Italians love.
First, Espresso roast is NOT a dark or French roast. It is typically a more moderate (AKA medium) roast. (Get some Lavazza coffee either preground for Espresso or in bean form and grind your own as I do). The grind is VERY fine. Nearly powder like. This is because water vapor is forced through it at higher pressure than the simple "pour over" of hot water
You can buy very fancy and expensive machines or you can do as I do and buy a nice little stove top one like this one https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000CF3Q6/?tag=tvwb-20 (mine goes back to the late 50's when my uncle Mike emigrated from Naples and brought a bunch with him for the entire family)
Espresso is served black (no creamer allowed here) in small cups. Typically a twist of lemon zest on the side, a bottle of Sambuca, Anisette or Grappa alongside. Also sugar (not mamby pamby "sweeteners")....................sugar.
One twists the lemon zest over the coffee while piping hot, sweetens it to taste and puts a little splash of the aforementioned liquor in. Now one savors it slowly, in good conversation or while watching life go by on the street. THIS is the true essence of what espresso is. Not slamming shots from some fru fru shop like Starbucks.............................YUK!

See I've always heard in Italy it was done as a quick shot in the mornings and not typically had after morning time. Maybe a regional difference?

And yeah, I wouldn't recommend Starbucks, but they asked. Good call on the other comment that found some better local cafes.
 

Rick Poch

TVWBB Super Fan
Espresso is to be savored. I see people slamming espresso like tequila. I guess they've clearly never been to Italy and have not immersed themselves in the "culture" we Italians love.

Absolutely. If you visit a coffee shop in Italy, you will see folks hanging out for very looooong periods of time discussing soccer, politics, whatever while nursing comically tiny (as compared to the size of American Joe) cups of coffee.

Interestingly, it took Starbucks 47 years to get up the courage to open up their first store in Italy.
Interestingly, most Italians drink coffee at bars.
See I've always heard in Italy it was done as a quick shot in the mornings and not typically had after morning time. Maybe a regional difference?

And yeah, I wouldn't recommend Starbucks, but they asked. Good call on the other comment that found some better local cafes.
Italians drink espresso all day.
Cappuccino is only consumed in the morning.
 

Lynn Dollar

TVWBB Gold Member
For those with the Nespresso machines, are you using those for lattes , cappucino, etc ...... or just espresso ?

I looked at the Nespresso machines, it appears there's an Original and a Vertuo. And the Vertuo only uses proprietary pods. That doesn't seem like a very good thing for someone new to these coffees ?

Rich G, Elemental and Coffee Slingers are downtown, I've heard of both. That's a 20 minute drive and I don't get downtown very often. But if I do , I'll give them a try.
 

JKalchik

TVWBB Guru
Lynn, every time we look into pod based coffee makers, the sheer expense alone makes us run away. And because there's money to be made, the machine manufacturers are going to try to lock the buyers into their own pods (see Keurig 2.0, etc.) But, as a consumer/buyer, choice is good to me, I'd like to see as many choices as possible. Sort of like only being able to use Kitchenaid flour in my stand mixer, that's not going to fly.
 

JayHeyl

TVWBB Pro
I did a bit of research on the Nespresso machines. No personal experience here, just what I've read online. The original machine, depending on the model, is more flexible. It uses real steam pressure to make something much more like a real espresso. But Nestle didn't secure the patent on the pods so they have very little of the pod market.

The Vertuo uses centrifugal force to simulate pressure. The pods spin at up to 7000 RPM, with water being forced through the grounds due to the spinning. They locked up the patent on the pods for this one so they own the Vertuo pod market. My understanding is the Vertuo makes only a single type of coffee (lots of varieties of coffee, but just a single brewing method), putting emphasis on simulating the crema of an espresso by injecting air into the water stream that results in a foam in the cup. Apparently the coffee is slightly more viscous due to the air bubbles dissolved in it. This is a very subtle thing that likely wouldn't be noticed except by an expert. Of course, everyone will notice the unnatural mat of foam on top of the coffee. Doesn't mean it isn't a good cup of coffee, it just looks a bit odd.

The very flexible original machines are quite expensive. The Vertuo machines are still pricey, but not nearly so pricey as the upper end original machines.
 
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Wayne Ficklin

TVWBB Fan
I'm a bit of a homebody. (Some may accuse me of being a recluse.) My wife perpetually has wanderlust. She's talked about wanting to go to Italy for a while and has now corrupted my daughter into wanting to go as well. It wasn't until this very post that I've ever wanted to travel to Italy.
 

Bob Bass

TVWBB Guru
For those with the Nespresso machines, are you using those for lattes , cappucino, etc ...... or just espresso ?
Lynn,
Just before the pandemic, we bought a Nespresso Essenza Mini and Aeroccino 3 Milk Frother as a set. It's one of the original machines but on the bottom of cost list, thankfully. Produces an acceptable espresso. We're using only Peet's Espresso Capsules.

 

Jeff Boudman

TVWBB All-Star
I still have one of the La Pavoni machines that my Dad bought in Naples, back in '78. It's been used so much that the seals had to be replaced twice.
There's an art to it, between the grind, the amount, how firmly you pack it, and knowing when and how to use the lever.
A bartender at at the bar in Bldg "L" at the NATO base in Naples taught my Dad & I how to use it. It took some time to master but it's worth the effort. It makes killer espresso and you could almost float a coin on the foam for cappuccino.
The seals need to be replaced, again.:cautious: Since I'm the only coffee drinker, and I don't drink Cappuccino anymore, there's no rush. That, and it costs a small fortune.
All that being said...the Bialetti makes a damn good cup of espresso.
Small world. My Dad was attached to NATO for three years in the 60”s. We used to go to Building L for the ham and cheese sandwiches.
 

Rick Poch

TVWBB Super Fan
Small world. My Dad was attached to NATO for three years in the 60”s. We used to go to Building L for the ham and cheese sandwiches.
Indeed it is.
Dad was stationed there for four years, ('77-'81), and worked at Bldg L. I was a lifeguard at the pool, (not sure if there was a pool in the 60's).
 

Lynn Dollar

TVWBB Gold Member
Lynn,
Just before the pandemic, we bought a Nespresso Essenza Mini and Aeroccino 3 Milk Frother as a set. It's one of the original machines but on the bottom of cost list, thankfully. Produces an acceptable espresso. We're using only Peet's Espresso Capsules.


Do you use it for lattes , etc or just espresso ?

I really don't need those high calorie coffee based drinks :) though I really enjoyed a caramel macchiato
 

Darren Lebner

TVWBB Fan
I think I must visit Italy before I comment.

I have a moka pot
Yes, we have a Bialetti. We buy fresh roasted Columbian ground from a local roaster. Best tasting espresso and cappuccino ever! Better than we've tasted in our 2 caffeine-filled trips to Italy. Nothing beats stovetop percolated. Sorry, George Clooney.

Bialetti website: Bialetti
 

tjkoko

TVWBB All-Star
Yes, we have a Bialetti. We buy fresh roasted Columbian ground from a local roaster. Best tasting espresso and cappuccino ever! Better than we've tasted in our 2 caffeine-filled trips to Italy. Nothing beats stovetop percolated. Sorry, George Clooney.

Bialetti website: Bialetti
I could never seem to get good coffee out of my Bialettis and I tried and failed for years. I'm back to using my Hario and love it. And my green beans are home roasted using a Hot Top Roaster. Best $1600 I ever spent!
 
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Bob Bass

TVWBB Guru
Do you use it for lattes , etc or just espresso ?

I really don't need those high calorie coffee based drinks :) though I really enjoyed a caramel macchiato

Just espresso.
Nothing wrong with the occasional caramel macchiato ;)
 
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