04 Jun Please The Palate Pick of the Week: The Perfect Shot of Espresso, Italian Style
There is nothing like the perfect shot of espresso. And for me, the only place to find that is in Italy. Italy is the gold standard when it comes to espresso, where it is a daily part of life, as well as the Please The Palate pick of the week.
Caffè/Coffee is not complicated in Italy. When one says, “prendo un caffè” (take a coffee), it takes less than one minute. You walk in the bar, order the coffee (espresso to Americans), wait 30 seconds, and a small cup is served with 1 ounce of perfection.
One of the most frustrating things for me is ordering “un caffè” after dinner in a restaurant or at a coffee bar in America. I am handed a small cup filled to the rim, or handed a larger cup that is partially filled with at least 3 ounces of espresso that is cold by the time it gets to my table. All of this is just wrong.
The word “espresso” means fast in Italian. Espresso, unlike American coffee, is made without a filter. It uses a specialized machine (an espresso machine) that forces pressurized water through very fine coffee grounds. A shot of espresso is concentrated and strong. It is a quick pick-me-up.
The classic espresso order is a caffè normale. It is a single shot, about 1 ounce in size. It takes approximately 18 seconds to make in the espresso machine.
For those that just want the “taste” of the coffee, they would order a “caffè ristretto”. This is a short, quick pull espresso that takes only 10-12 seconds on the machine.
And for those that want to sip a little longer, they order a “caffè lungo” which spends 25-26 seconds in the machine. This caffè lungo is more like what we find in the US and for me is too watery.
While I appreciate a good cappuccino in the morning, I enjoy the multiple stops during the day for “un caffè” while I am in Italy. This quick break in the day does not take long but offers a lot of flavor in a small serving. I am constantly on a quest for this perfect shot of espresso when I am home but while I am in Italy, I love how any where I go, I can get un caffè that is perfect!