Yes that’s right! It’s national espresso day! And there’s no better way to celebrate this great holiday then having “un tassa di cafe”.
It’s no secret I have a bit of an obsession with coffee. Talked about many times on WindsorEats…like here…and here…and even our guest writer, Melissa Galea, wrote about it…here. Whenever someone brings up the topic I can always hear Adriano in the background muttering “Oh no, please don’t”. (I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to bring up the subject of coffee or speak of it unless someone else brings it up first.)
Espressos have always fascinated me. I used to actually dislike the taste quite a bit. Over the years I’ve learned it’s just as much about the experience as it is about the taste. Having an espresso here is a much different experience than having one in Italy where they do not sit down to slowly sip the drink. Oh no. You stand at a counter and pretty much drink that thing in one, maybe two, gulps.
Another difference is the amount of espresso served. We tend to fill the demi tasse to the brim whereas the Italians only fill it half way. And the crema. Oh the beautiful crema. That silky soft, frothy, light mocha coloured layer that sits atop your espresso. It’s heaven in a cup.
So how do you make an espresso? The key is the hot water being forced through by high pressure to maximize the concentrated flavour from the finely ground beans. (I could literally go on for hours here about the origins of coffee and it’s implications on our global economy but I’ll save that for another day.) Not everyone has a fancy machine at home. I use a stove top espresso maker, the Bialetti, and although doesn’t produce the crema I love so much, it certainly does the job.
Fresh ground beans make all the difference. I always grind them as I need them. You’ll notice my dented tin of Illy that I brought back with me on my last trip. It’s important to find a good quality bean. As the espresso is not watered down like coffee, having a high quality bean is important.
Once the beans have been finely ground, fill the bottom have of the espresso maker with water and pack the beans into the Bialetti filter.
Set it on the stovetop at a medium heat and wait for the little put-put sound of the Bialetti to tell you that your espresso is ready. Now you could always let your guest add sugar to their espresso. But I’ve often had the host add the sugar directly to the Bialetti.
Pour yourself “un tassa”, add a biscotti and you’re set. Enjoy!