Espresso 101…an Espresso Education

You love coffee, but maybe you feel a bit overwhelmed with the whole espresso, latte, cappuccino lingo?  Come with me for a walk through espresso elementary and learn everything there is to know to get you in and out of that coffee shop without feeling like you’re going to embarrass yourself and learn how to make delicious espresso drinks at home!
Espresso (pronounced eSpresso, never eXpresso) is a coffee, so the question isn’t “what” as much as it is “how.”  How is espresso made? The quality of espresso severely depends on the way it is made.  Start out with a coffee that is medium to dark roasted and push near boiling water through about 7 grams of compressed, very fine coffee grounds.  Use an espresso machine, of course.  You pull the shot (meaning remove the espresso) in less than 30 seconds and then proceed to study the espresso you just made.  Yes… actually, look into the coffee and take note, because this is going to tell you whether or not you actually want to drink it!  What you are looking at on top of the espresso is called crema.  Crema is the tell-all of the quality of the cup. 
Here is what you need to look for (even when it is made by an expert in a coffeehouse) to ensure an outstanding quality espresso:
-Tiny speckles
-A golden red color
-A strong, fragrant aroma.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the different espresso beverages you will enjoy, let’s clear up some misconceptions.  Espresso has the same caffeine as an 8 oz cup of regular.  It is a more concentrated volume, so you have to drink less if you are looking for that quick pick-me-up.  Espresso beans and coffee beans come from the same plant.  Though some beans from certain regions or variants make better espresso, they all come from coffee plants.  Baristas and coffee houses each choose which beans they prefer for their espresso so you may like it at one coffee house, but not at another down the street.  Aside from saving money, this is another reason you should start making espresso at home!
Espresso is enjoyed across the globe all by itself, but its popularity also has a lot to do with its usefulness as a base in countless other coffee beverages.  Espresso can be an acquired taste and a lot of what is offered on the menu at your local coffee shop is a variation of espresso to please those who are looking for more milk, sweetener, chocolate, spices, etc.  Let’s take a look at how espresso plays a part in the menu at your coffee house.
Americano– is an espresso shot (remember that is about 1 1/4oz espresso) diluted with water.  Perfect if you are new to espresso.
Cappuccino–  1/3 espresso, 1/3 milk, 1/3 milk foam.  Cappuccino cuts the acidity of espresso and adds a creamy, velvet-like mouthfeel to it.
 Latte- Shots of espresso added to steamed milk.  Latte is a cousin to the Café au Lait which is ½ espresso, ½ steamed milk.
The list of options goes on and on.  If adding chocolate, you want to throw in the word Mocha; add the word Frappe and you just made your drink cold, and latte means you’ve now added milk or a milk substitute.  It is as easy as that!  Once you have cracked the lingo code, you are well on your way to ordering an espresso beverage at your local coffee house or making a signature espresso beverage right in your own kitchen.
I sure hope this helps you understand the world of espresso better, and I can’t wait for you to start making some of these great drinks at home.  Quick and easy, you’ll be amazed at how enjoyable it is to start your day with such an exciting beverage!
Espresso martinis are delicious cocktails that combine coffee and vodka in a glass filled with ice. They're perfect for an after-dinner drink, or any time you need a little pick me up!
2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce coffee liqueur (usually Kahlúa)
1 ounce espresso, freshly brewed (or cold brew concentrate)
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Garnish: coffee beans
Add vodka, coffee liqueur, espresso, and simple syrup to a shaker filled with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with 3 coffee beans.
If you love espresso martinis, then you'll love these instructions on how to make them at home. You'll find everything you need to make a batch of these tasty drinks right here.

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