Espresso - The definitive Italian small strong coffee, generally served in 2.5 or 3 floz cups filled three quarter way full. A rich light brown crema should always top an espresso - the crema shows that all the essential oils have been extracted from the coffee - and that the Barista who made it has the espresso grind set fine enough, the tamp and distribution correct to the correct level and pressure. The espresso is the base of all Speciality coffee drinks, so if it is not correct then neither will the rest be. The brew time for espresso should be 22 to 25 seconds per fluid ounce, any less then this then the espresso will be thin and underextracted (too coarse a grind, little or no crema.
Espresso Macchiato - This is a simple variation of the standard espresso, all you need to add a serving spoon sized dollop of tight foamed milk to the top of an espresso. The addition of milk foam makes the espresso a little bit milder, and the end result should be as pictured left - sort of a mini cappuccino. While there are many other variations on the basic espresso, the only one we will consider here is a Doppio. An Espresso Doppio is made using a double shot (14g) of espresso ground coffee in the double spout portafilt but made into a regular espresso cup - so double the normal stength. A great pick me up for any time of the day or night! Don't forget you can make this a doppio macchiato by brewing a double shot of coffee.
Traditional Cappuccino - The traditional cappuccino should consist equal thirds espresso base, liquid steamed milk and foamed milk. The foamed milk should be rich and thick with tight small bubbles - after foaming the milk jug can be tapped on the counter to knock out any bigger bubbles. For a domed effect cappuccino with lasting foam - froth your milk first stretching it by keeping the steam arm tip close to the milk surface. Then prepare your espresso base thus letting the foamed milk settle in the jug. Finally pour the liquid milk from the jug into the centre of the espresso until three quarters way up the cup before pulling the foamed milk from the jug into the centre of the cup with a spatula. The end result should be as left - with the espresso crema forming an abbots halo around the edge of the cup.
Caffe Latte - Traditionally a milder drink then cappuccino, caffe latte as the name suggests is espresso topped up with steamed hot milk. There should be no foam, just hot milk (although when served in a glass it is common for a thin layer of foam to be added to accenuate the layered effect when the coffee is floated at the top of the glass. When served in a cup, caffe latte should be presented as seen left, where the hot liquid milk is poured through the crema pushing the crema up the cup so it floats at the top of the drink. The characteristic marble effect shows the quality of the espresso base extraction. Caffe Mocha is made the same way as a caffe latte, but a 1/2floz portion of liquid chocolate such as Ghiradelli chocolate sauce is added to the cup or glass first - so a mocha is a chocolate and coffee combination
Americano - A shot of espresso served in a cappuccino cup, then topped up with hot water. Traditionally served black, with cold milk used to taste. An Americano can be served to anyone asking for a regular coffee or filter coffee - because the espresso base is made milder with the addition of hot water.
Latte Art - Despite the name, the actual drink produced has more in common with cappuccino then latte. This style of coffee art is becoming more frequently seen as coffee bar Barista's develop their skills and wish to show off the quality of their espresso extraction and milk foaming technique. To produce latte art the milk must be foamed using a special technique to produce micro foam, which is achieved by streching the milk as in normal foaming but only for around 15 to 20%, then the steam arm should be plunged three quarter way down the jug with the jug at an angle so the steam arm tip is pointed at the bottom edge of the tipped jug. At this angle a vortex if formed mixing the foamed milk with the liquid milk to create a thick milk of very tight small bubbles. The resulting dense foam can be poured directly into the cup in a variety of ways to make patterns in the top of the drink with the crema and foam - from a simple apple or heart to the complex rosetta - a leaf type pattern.
The drinks listed above are what we consider the main drinks to be found on the menu of any Speciality coffee outlet, there are many other variations, especially when you consider flavoured syrups. We would personally rather see more menus with the sort of range listed above, but with more attention placed on making sure each drink is made to the correct specification. Most importantly the quality of your espresso base should be a priority, that is making sure coffee is ground relatively to demand - not a full doser worth ground in the morning if you are still going to be using it in the afternoon. Shot times should be regularly checked, using a 1floz shot glass. Aim for 22 to 25 seconds from pressing the brew button to filling the glass to the 1floz line. Learn how you need to adjust the grinder for different atmospheric conditions and also the changing microclimate of your outlet. Setting the grind correctly in the morning in a relatively cold outlet with low humidity is fine, but during the busy lunch period the humidity will increase and your grind will need adjusting accordingly.
Latte Rosetta -To get a really good Rosetta you need to get your milk microfoamed perfectly, and have a really well extracted espresso base - so there is plenty of Crema to make the pattern in. With your milk foamed and your espresso base ready in the cup, tilt the cup slightly downwards and start to pour from high up aiming at the top of the tilt. The height you pour at is crucial, it needs to be high enough so the milk plunges below the crema and pushes it up. Once you have the cup three quarter way full bring the jug closer and start to sway it from side to side while moving down the tilt to the far side of the cup. Once you reach the far side level the cup and raise the jug, and pull the final pour back across the pattern you have just made - with practice and a little luck you should get something resembling a Rosetta.
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