Best Espresso (2002)

Dolce & Freddo

At least four things have to be right to make the perfect espresso. First, the ingredient: finely ground Italian espresso-roasted coffee. Second, the equipment: a machine capable of bringing the water to 2000 degrees and delivering the right pressure. Third: the know-how, in the form of an experienced barista who both knows how to tamp down the coffee in the gruppa (the metal cup) and keeps a watchful eye on the whole process. Last: knowing to serve it in a porcelain demitasse, which is far more civilized than a cardboard cup and makes it taste much better. A fine espresso should be enjoyed much as you would a fine wine. Swish it around in your mouth to get the full flavor and texture; it should have an almost syrupy feel. The thick, reddish-brown crema on top, the symbol of a perfect extraction, should be thick enough to hold two teaspoons of sugar for a few seconds before letting it sink to the bottom of the cup. At Dolce & Freddo, that's what you get.

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