Coffee Primer

Specialty Coffees

Brewed coffee -- usually produced through a drip filter -- is perhaps the most common way to fill the American coffee cup. However, these specialty coffees are popular, too.

  • Espresso: Italian in origin, espresso is cherished for its hearty flavor and thin layer of silky froth (or crema) on top. Because of its intense flavor, espresso is served in demitasse cups, often with sugar. It is brewed by forcing hot water under pressure through finely ground coffee in an espresso machine.
  • Caffe Latte: This is primarily an American favorite. It combines one part brewed espresso to about three parts steamed milk, with a little froth (or foam) on top. Caffe latte is served in a latte bowl or a tall glass mug.
  • Cappuccino: Equal parts brewed espresso, steamed milk, and froth make a cup of cappuccino. Popular in both Italy and America, it has a more intense coffee flavor than latte and is usually served with sugar.

These coffees depend on an Italian roast that's been specially blended and ground to make espresso. Because it is made differently from drip coffees, you need an espresso maker if you wish to prepare authentic espresso at home. Many kinds of espresso makers are available, from inexpensive stove-top pots to expensive machines resembling those found in coffeehouses.