An Espresso Lesson at Ciao Bello with Master Barista Giorgio Milos

Espresso is more than just a beverage -- it's the base ingredient used to create an array of specialty drinks: cocktails, frappes, cappuccinos and other classic coffee beverages.

Master barista Giorgio Milos arrived at Ciao Bello Friday, after being stuck in an airport for six hours due to the massive amount of rain, to demonstrate the many uses of espresso. But before he could begin to teach, he brewed himself a cup of espresso and sighed, "After a long flight, this is my first illy."

Milos explained that espresso is a very concentrated liquid and should be highly viscous. Using only half a cup of espresso, anyone can create a unique cocktail, dessert or simple morning pick-me-up.

First, he made a familiar beverage of espresso and milk, a latte. Milos brewed a half cup of espresso, then began to introduce air into the milk. It's all about technique when creating small bubbles, or micro bubbles, in the milk. The result is a thicker texture and a more viscous beverage.

He then poured the milk into the espresso using a pitcher with a small lip to create his masterpiece. "Gently increase the flow time by time," says Milos. "The patterns appear when the glass is full."

He created the two patterns on the latte, a heart and a rosetta, by controlling the speed of the milk flowing from the pitcher and carefully designing his artwork as the liquid reached the top of the cup. "Turn off your brain. If you think too much, you can't do it."

After creating beautifully designed lattes, Milos moved on to creating iced beverages with espresso. He began with an affogato -- one of the simplest, but most delicious, espresso desserts you could make. All you need is warm espresso, sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Affogato means "drowned" in Italian, which happens to the vanilla ice cream; as the warm espresso begins to melt the ice cream, the giant scoop sinks to the bottom of the glass. One spoonful of warm espresso and smooth vanilla ice cream and you'll be hooked.

Milos created other iced beverages (iced coffee and a frappe), but he finished with an espresso cocktail.

The key to creating a well-balanced espresso cocktail is using a spirit that calls for sugar in order to balance the bitterness with a little bit of acidity. Milos says to never use gin with coffee; it's a combination you're bound to dislike. The combination of amaretto disaronno and espresso creates a drink that, according to Milos, all women love, an amore (fitting name).

He mixed the spirit with steam to evaporate some alcohol, poured the espresso into the glass, then poured the steamed spirit into the glass off the back of a spoon to create layers within the glass. He finished the drink off by pouring shaken milk and sugar off the back of a spoon and sprinkling sugar on top. The layers create a cold sensation on the top lip and a warm sensation on the bottom lip.

Due to the torrential downpour delaying Milos's flight, he could not stay as long as he had intended, but he still managed to teach the basics of espresso and create some outstanding drinks.

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Molly Dunn
Contact: Molly Dunn