For people who love espresso, there’s nothing quite like that first demi of the morning, pulled from a perfectly tamped puck, with golden crema swirling atop a dark brown elixir. Crafting a tasty shot of espresso used to be something you had to go to a coffee shop for. Now, however, you can get a home espresso machine that will make a superlative demitasse for much less than you might expect. In fact, you might end up saving money in the long run, especially if you’re used to hitting up Starbucks or a good café for your caffeine needs.
The first step in creating a coffee shop at home is to get an espresso maker. There are many different types of espresso machines available for home use. Some are simple to use and others are just as complex as ones you find in your neighborhood coffee shop. If you’re interested in learning how to make the best espresso possible, there are several mechanical tools that can help achieve a good pull. These include scales to ensure the correct mass of beans, tools to help achieve a properly tamped puck, and even a naked portafilter to let you see the espresso as it comes out.
Coffee and espresso are nothing if not an excuse to be social. And espresso and cappuccino machines are elegant; some are almost works of art. So don’t hide your machine on your kitchen counter. Placing your espresso maker on a sideboard in your dining space or even making it part of your bar is a clever way to add that coffee shop atmosphere to your home. Best of all, when you or your friends are making their coffee, there’s no need to leave the party or the conversation.
One key step in making your own coffee shop atmosphere at home is to make sure you have the right cups and serving equipment. After all, there are a number of different ways to drink espresso. If you’re just drinking single or double shots of espresso, you want appropriately sized demitasse cups that can handle the 2-ounce pulls. For cappuccinos or Macchiatos, you want a larger 8 to 12-ounce mug with a wide opening. Of course, if you’re just going to drink an Americano, then a standard 6-ounce coffee mug will work just fine. If you want to get fancy, a clear tall mug is perfect for a layered espresso-based drink like a café au lait.
Another tool that can come in handy when making your own drinks is a milk frother. Most espresso machines have steam nozzles that can be used to froth milk for cappuccinos or café au laits. The problem with this is that if you just want a little more foam, you have to turn on the machine and wait for it to warm up. Instead, a battery operated frother will make foam in under a minute, letting you add as much milk to your drink as you like.
Now your at-home café experience is almost complete. All you need to add are some good tunes and a few friends and just like that, you’ve got the entire thing in the comfort of your own home.