Steamed Up Over Espresso

I got an espresso machine for Christmas and I’ve had fun playing with it ever since.

Reading up on the art of espresso making has left me a tad dizzy, though. Espresso lovers make wine snobs look tolerant. The laws of espresso leave little room for forgiveness:

  • One must have the proper amount of cream (froth, not the dairy product) atop the coffee.
  • One must never drink milky espresso drinks (cappuccino and lattes) after noon. Actually, one should never drink lattes at all, since they’re a crime against the universe.
  • One must produce espresso that is full-bodied but not bitter (good luck with that one).
  • One must grind the coffee just right, in a grinder with burrs, not blades.
  • One must use a pump-powered espresso maker, not, heaven forbid, a steam-driven machine.

I break just about all of these laws, starting with the one that forbids lattes after noon. But then I’m not an espresso purist, just someone who likes strong, flavorful coffee with a lot of sweet frothy milk.

There is a certain comfort to the ritual of making espresso. But what really attracts me to this method of coffee making is the steam. I love that high-pitched cry when the steaming wand meets the cold milk. I stare in fascination when the machine hisses and belches steam, like a classic train locomotive pulling into the station. It’s awesome.

Let the aficionados argue over the art and science of making espresso. To me, it’s just fun.

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