Saturday, July 4, 2009

Espresso, Cappuccino, Latte, Mochaccino: What Is Your Favorite Gourmet Coffee?

By Michael Stadneck

Making a superb gourmet coffee all starts with beans. Gourmet coffee beans are mostly Arabica because of their supreme robust flavor and smooth texture. Arabica beans are considered the premium bean in the coffee industry and the demand is high which makes it much pricier than other beans. Arabica coffee beans are the most prominently grown and provide approximately 60% of world coffee production. One reason the beans are so expensive is that the Arabica plant is very sensitive to unfavorable conditions such as frost, pests and disease. What leads people to wait in long, long lines for a cup of gourmet-brewed coffee beverage? Just what are espresso, cappuccino and macchiato?

Espresso: Surprisingly enough, espresso coffee is already one of the most popular coffee drinks in the world. It is also the basis for specialty drinks like Cappuccino. Espresso coffee is regular coffee, brewed and consumed at very concentrated brewing and drinking ratios. It is brewed much faster than regular drip coffee. Since the hot water is quickly forced through the fine grounds it usually only takes between 25 and 30 seconds to brew a cup of espresso.

Cappuccino is a delicious, luxurious coffee beverage that is enjoyed by coffee lovers the world over, combining creamy, frothy texture with distinctive espresso flavor and aroma. Cappuccino is named for the resemblance of its color to the robes of the monks of the Capuchin order. Cappuccino is a cup of espresso coffee with fresh milk and milk foam bubbles burst on the top of cup. The milk foam bubbles burst acts as the insulator and keep the heat of the coffee for a longer time.

A Cafe Latte equal parts espresso and steamed milk. The steamed milk is poured over the espresso. Remember, the order of building the drink is important. A latte is basically a diluted cappuccino with almost entirely steamed milk and a dollop of foam on top. Cafe latte is simply the Italian words for "coffee and milk".

A Mochaccino is simply equal parts cappuccino and chocolate syrup. Some of the finer coffee houses prefer the term Cafe Mocha, using a powdered cocoa mixed with diluted cappuccino and topped with a whipped cream dollop. This is a very popular alternative to a traditional hot chocolate drink, neither as thick nor as sweet.

A Cafe Americano, similar to a long black common in Australia, is a style of coffee made by pulling a double-shot of espresso over hot water . A long black is similar to an which is made by adding hot water to espresso shots, but it retains the texture and is less voluminous, therefore more strongly flavored.

Besides the hot drinks, there are also a wide variety of iced coffee gourmet drinks as well. Basically, you take any of your favorite varieties, add ice cubes and topping, and voila, youve got yourself a delicious gourmet milk shake-type drink.

The reawakened craze in coffee shops, kiosks and coffee carts can be confusing with menu boards listing numerous gourmet treats in various sizes. Baristas move with lightning speed from espresso machine to flavorings to steaming milk to counter with the talent of circus jugglers. Ordering your first latte takes a lot of courage, but once you get over the initial fear factor, you will be hooked for life.

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