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Espresso, a word many Americans butcher by calling expresso, is, ironically, derived from the Italian word for express. The drink was named so because it is made for and served immediately to the customer.

Bittersweet espresso using a la marzocco bottomless portafilter

According to Italian tradition, espresso brewing is defined by four "M's":

  1. "Miscela" is the coffee blend - a medium to dark roast
  2. "Macinazione" is the correct grinding of a coffee blend
  3. "Macchina" is the espresso machine
  4. "Mano" is the hand of a skilled barista.

Precisely controlling and combining the 4 "M's" will result in producing the wonderful coffee experience of a great espresso drink.

Espresso Drinks

Espresso A hot drink made by forcing hot water through finely ground, dark-roasted coffee beans. Has one-half the water and twice the coffee as regular drip coffee. Comes in Single (Espresso Solo) or Double (Espresso Doppio) Shots. A single espresso shot should produce 1 to 1.5 ounces in approximately 25 seconds of brewing time. A good espresso has a fine layer of foam - called crema - on top of the drink.
Cappuccino A very popular drink traditionally made with equal parts espresso, steamed milk and frothed milk.
Latte A very popular drink originating in Italy, the Latte - or Italian Latte - is a double shot of espresso combined with steamed milk. A Latte should have approximately a 3:1 ratio of milk to coffee. 
Mocha Basically, a Mocha is a latte with chocolate syrup added. Mochas can be topped with whipped cream.
Cafe au Lait Not an espresso drink, but a drink made with equal parts drip coffee and steamed milk. Coffee should be a dark roast and brewed strong. This is more of a New Orleans drink than a European drink.
Americano A double shot of espresso with 6 to 14 ounces of hot water added. Results in a stronger brew than normal drip coffee. Not a particularly popular drink in Italy - the term apparently was originally devised as an insult to Americans who wanted their espresso diluted. Also known as a Caffe Americano.
Macchiato A shot of espresso (served in a small espresso cup) topped off with a dollop of frothed milk. The ratio of cafe/latte is approximately 80/20. Most Italians drop a teaspoon of sugar in this elixir. Can also add a light sprinkling of chocolate powder.
Ristretto This is a very strong, restricted shot. Only about one-half of the water is allowed to come through the coffee grounds, but the shot should take the same amount of time as a normal pull. Should be about a .75 ounce pull. Grinding the coffee finer is the preferred method for achieving the slower brewing time.
Breva An espresso drink made with half & half instead of whole milk. This should have a very rich creamy flavor. 
Lungo This is an extra long pull allowing approximately twice as much water through the same amount of coffee as normally used for a single shot. This will be somewhat over extracted. It's about a 2-3 ounce shot.
Con Panna A shot of espresso topped with whipped cream.
Corretto Espresso "corrected" with a shot of brandy, cognac, or liqueur.
Romano Regular espresso with a twist of lemon or lemon peel.


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