Caffeine makes the world go round. And methods for crafting the ubiquitous stimulant are as varied as it is popular. Everyone has a different preference for filling their paper cups each morning. While most people opt for a classic cup of coffee — each day, in fact, Americans drink an average of 1.64 cups of the black gold — many also go for something a bit more complex: espresso. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the diversity of espresso options available, you are not alone. To get you started, here are some of the most popular methods of preparation.
The ristretto is a simple shot of espresso with no foam or other bells and whistles. However, what distinguishes the ristretto, or the “restrained” shot, is that it is slightly smaller than a typical single espresso. The ristretto will fill less than two-thirds of an espresso cup, or “demitasse.”
Those who want a slightly less intense shot of espresso should opt for the luongo. In contrast with ristretto, the luongo is filled slightly past the two-thirds point of the espresso cup.
The cappuccino has an easy recipe to remember — it is crafted with three parts in equal proportion. Espresso is combined with equal parts steamed milk and foam, and cappuccino experts will finish with a classic design by executing a precise upward flourish at the end of the milk pour. For a drier cappuccino, simply shift the milk ratio in favor of more foam.
If you love the taste of espresso, but just need a little something to temper it, try the macchiato. Translating to “stained,” the shot is “stained” with a dash of milk foam. Done right, the milk adds a very slight buffer to the espresso’s bitter bite while still keeping the flavors intense.
The classic latte is similar to the cappuccino, but with more steamed milk and less foam. This popular drink is made of one-third expresso, two-thirds steamed milk, and just a splash of foam at the top.
If you have an espresso maker at home, try filling your paper cups from the Hot Cup Factory with drinks you have never tried before. You just might find a new favorite!