Espresso for Beginners
In Italy and all over the world, Italian espresso is the preferred delivery system for caffeine, an effective morning eye-opener for many. But you don’t have to travel to Italy for an authentic Italian espresso. If you can’t make the trip over the pond, we’ll show you how to easily recreate the Italian cafe experience in the comfort of home.
History of Italian Espresso
Coffee first made an appearance in Italy during the 14th century when merchants of the Silk Road introduced it to the wealthy aristocrats of Venice. It didn’t become mainstream until it was declared acceptable by Pope Clement VII, who was captivated by its incomparable aroma and taste.
By the 18th century, the Italian café culture was in full swing thanks to the working class and their need for a cheap and fast pick-me-up throughout the day. A shot of espresso at the bar was the perfect solution to their short, five-minute breaks between shifts. As time went on, Italian espresso evolved into an unhurried café experience that involved lingering over specialty drinks like cappuccinos, lattes, macchiato, and the like. The introduction of frothed milk helped to mellow and balance the intensity of Italian espresso, a tradition that’s here to stay.
Ground Espresso, Whole Beans or Pods?
For Italians, espresso is more than a daily caffeine fix—it’s a way of life, and it all starts with premium quality Italian espresso.
Top Brands of Ground Espresso
A brand that epitomizes the Italian lifestyle, Lavazza brings the velvety and smooth flavor of authentic Italian espresso to every cup. The secret to their winning formula is a blend of top quality 100% Arabica beans that are sourced from around the world.
For the newbie, we suggest ground espresso beans for convenience, like Lavazza Gran Crema or Crema e Gusto, two popular espresso grinds for a rich crema and smooth taste. These beans are specially ground into a fine texture that is ideal for all types of espresso machines—from stove top to electric. If you love the robust and creamy flavor of traditional Napoletano espresso, you should keep a black brick of ground Caffe Kimbo Napoletano in your pantry or coffee bar.
Premium Brands of Whole Bean Espresso
There is nothing more comforting and delicious than the smell of fresh ground coffee in the kitchen, especially with deluxe brews like Lavazza 100% Premium Arabic Whole Bean Caffe Espresso, a blend of beans from Central and South America. Like the ground espresso varieties by Lavazza, their Gran Crema Whole Beans and Crema e Gusto Forte both exhibit a marvelous aroma and complex flavor.
Top Brands of Espresso Pods
With electric machines like the Nespresso, espresso pods are bringing the taste of authentic Italian coffee to the world of modern convenience. The result is a simple, single serve espresso made by pressing a button. There’s also no guesswork—each pod is perfectly weighed and portioned for one serving. Even better, you can enjoy the distinctive flavors of your favorite premium quality Italian espresso brands like Illy Dark Roast, Kimbo Italian Espresso, Lavazza, and more.
Espresso Making Equipment
The simple and efficient stovetop method is the traditional way to produce excellent Italian espresso. A favorite tool in the Italian kitchen is the Moka 6-cup Espresso Maker by Bialetti, a simple stovetop appliance that makes a rich and creamy espresso in minutes. The maintenance of the Moka Stovetop Espresso Maker is easy and straightforward—if you misplace the gaskets and filters, you can find an inexpensive replacement set at Supermarket Italy.
If you want to make a cappuccino, you can use a hand pump milk foamer to froth it by hand. It might not have the steam power of the electric espresso machines but with a little effort, you’ll have a nice amount of foam before you know it! Another option is the electric frothing wand, which can make your coffee routine even easier.
Although the popular electric espresso machine takes some effort, it only takes a few minutes to brew the coffee; and frothing the milk is a snap with its powerful steaming action. The result is an espresso or coffee drink that tastes like it was made by a barista at an Italian café.
For the ultimate in convenience and ease of use, the espresso beginner cannot fail with espresso pods used in a Nespresso machine. You simply place a pod in the machine and you’ll have the perfect Italian espresso with the push of a button.
If the smell of freshly ground coffee is what you need to get out of bed in the morning, you should consider investing in a grinder. Look for models that feature a range of settings, such as ‘fine’ for espresso grinds, ‘coarse’ for French press, and ‘extra fine’ for Turkish style.
DO’S and DON’TS of Italian Espresso
Known for their premium quality coffee and legendary coffee culture, Italians have strict rules about espresso consumption. Follow these guidelines and enjoy Italian espresso like a local.
DO drink it quickly. In fact, it would be rare for an Italian to sit down and order an espresso. If it sits for even a few minutes, the espresso will lose its crema, a thin layer of golden foam that gives you a full-bodied flavor with a hint of chocolate. If the crema is gone, then it has been sitting around for too long—most Italians order their espresso at the bar since the crema can disappear so quickly. If you sit at a table, you’re likely to drink it too late by the time it gets to you.
DON’T order a cappuccino after breakfast. In Italy, it’s perfectly acceptable to drink espresso throughout the day. But popular espresso drinks with copious amounts of milk like the cappuccino and latte are typically reserved for breakfast and shouldn’t be consumed after 11 am. Italians believe that the foamed milk is too rich for pairing with savory and robust dishes that are commonly served for lunch and dinner, such as pasta, cured meats and the like.
DON’T add milk. For a true espresso, Italians typically drink it alone as a breakfast pick-me-up. If Italian espresso is too intense for your taste, try an espresso macchiato, which is simply an espresso with foamed milk. You could also transform your espresso into a caffe corretto by adding a splash of liquor, a popular drink for the late afternoon.
DO enjoy it as a way of life. For Italians, premium Italian espresso isn’t reserved for special occasions but as an everyday energy booster and mood enhancer that should be enjoyed throughout the day.
Popular Types of Espresso Drinks
If you’re in the mood to linger over your coffee, make your home feel like an Italian café when you include a shot of espresso in your favorite coffee drinks. Along with the cappuccino and latte, a shot of espresso with chocolate and frothed milk also makes an extra rich cup of coffee known as the mocha latte.
Make your coffee drink an extra special treat with a dusting of cinnamon and chocolate shavings, which put a gourmet touch on hot beverage classics. Since the layer of foam keeps the espresso warm for a few minutes, it allows you to slowly sip your coffee drink and fully enjoy its comforting flavor and aroma. For many people, a cappuccino in the morning is a great espresso drink to start the day. The espresso gives you the jolt you need to get up and go while the frothed milk mellows the intensity of the coffee.
With these tried and true methods and tips, even a beginner can start making premium quality espresso like a pro. At Supermarket Italy, we have everything you need for making an authentic Italian espresso. Shop our selection today and enjoy the convenience of premium Italian coffee and equipment delivered right to your doorstep.