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Making a Good Cup of Espresso

Cooking tips for the caring cook.


The best espresso is extraordinarily sweet, has a "scent-sational" aroma, with a flavor similar to freshly ground coffee. The cream should be dark reddish-brown and smooth, yet thick. A perfect espresso should be enjoyable straight with no additives, yet bold enough to not disappear in milk.

  • Choose a good espresso mix. Store beans in a glass or opaque container, well sealed. Avoid very dark colored beans and those that are excessively shiny. The blending and roasting of variety beans is what makes each brand unique.
  • Grind the beans very finely just before using them.
  • If your tap water has too much calcium or other minerals, use bottled water. Italians themselves will tell you the quality of their coffee largely depends upon the purity of the water used.
  • Use a coffee maker that will make only the number of cups needed.
  • For the best Italian brew, use a Moka Stove Top Espresso Maker. In a Mokka coffee pot, the bottom chamber contains the water. When the pot is heated, pressure from the steam pushes the water through a basket containing ground coffee.
  • If a recipe calls for espresso powder, you can substitute it with 1-1/2 times the amount of instant coffee.
  • Note: Once you have mastered how to make Italian coffee, it is fun to create some coffee desserts.

Trouble-Shooting Your Espresso

Coffee has a burnt taste. The pot was either on the stove too long after the coffee was ready, or the coffee you have was roasted too dark. If you think the cause is the roast, try a medium-roasted coffee, which is best for Italian espresso.

My coffee tastes too strong. You used too much coffee - try a little less until you get it just the way you like it.

The coffee tastes too strong and there is still water in the chamber. You either pressed the coffee too much or put too much coffee in the filter. Use less coffee and press a bit less. Another possibility is that the filter may have become obstructed. Remove it and clean it thoroughly with water.

Type of Espresso in a petit cup

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