Nowadays, coffee shops are ever more fashionable little holes in the wall where the customers un-ironically wear berets basked in the glow of their Macbook Pros dutifully scanning through Facebook. Why is it that Starbucks does such great business selling five dollar cups of latte? Because sometimes Tim Hortons or Dunkin Donuts just doesn’t cut it, sometimes you need the real stuff.
The ability to make coffee in your own home is hardly revolutionary. A quick trip to Linen Chest with thirty dollars gets you that privilege, and that’s more or less been the case since the advent of home electricity. Homemade espresso, in contrast, can be an ordeal to make. Espresso coffee grinds are compressed at enormous pressures and temperatures to extract a small shot of dark delicious heaven in under 60 seconds, requiring special preparation methods and machinery.
Espresso machines, encased in chrome and stainless steel, make for a beautiful kitchen accessory. From a home décor perspective then this is an avenue worth pursuing. From a hosting perspective, the provision of a strong coffee along with a glass of heady brandy to wash down the last course of a meal is a necessary courtesy in some cultures, and at any rate a hallmark of sophistication. From a coffee lover’s perspective, there’s only so much you can do with run of the mill coffee. Espresso, on the other hand, opens a world of possibilities.
The first thing to understand about espresso is that you’ll need a grinder to grind your beans to the particular grain size required for a good shot of espresso, or you’ll need to buy grinds specifically prepared for an espresso machine. Having the correct grind is crucial for making a good shot. The second thing to understand about espresso machines is that they can be expensive. This is because of the high pressures involved in their operation, as well as the precise way in which good espresso needs to be made. Machines range from automatic machines you typically see in coffee shops to lever operated manual machines.
Automatic machines like the Delonghi from Linen Chest are run by electricity and do most of the work for you. Manual machines are smaller and operated by a large lever which pistons pressurized water down through the coffee bed with whatever force you apply to it. Manual machines can really add some romance to a coffee preparation, but it introduces more variables. Consider these and other factors!