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Espresso - Make Mine a Double

Updated on February 11, 2016

La Macchina -- You need a machine

This is a good one, a very good one now for over a dozen years. That's espresso every day, 365 x 12, plus extras some days and on party days. You do the math.

It has a pump; you want a pump. Not expensive.* Simple to use.

There are plenty of others on the market, most more expensive, very few less expensive (that work well). The more expensive ones are lucky if they make espresso as good as this one, unless you are talking about the professional machines used in coffee shops around the world, all of which cost thousands of dollars.

But, you need a machine, a macchina.

* Pays for itself within several months, if you have previously been buying your cups at Starbucks, Peet's, Seattle's Best, etc.

Honing in

The portafilter on the right. Two metal filters to its left, the far one a single, the nearer one a doppio. That's what we want, a doppio.

Then there's the scoop for scooping out the pre-ground espresso coffee from the can into the filter. Of course you can grind your own beans in one of those little electric grinders each time you are going to make a cup of espresso, if you prefer. But I have found that the pre-ground stuff is just as good, especially if it is from a vaccum-sealed can. Insert the doppio filter into the portafilter, scoop out enough coffee to fill it.

The other plastic thingy there is the tamp. With some machines you have to tamp the coffee down hard to produce the delightful froth or crema that attractively adorns the surface of the liquid. Not with this machine. I never need to use the tamp. I do tamp the coffee in the filter down a bit with the back of the scoop. I also want to avoid leaving any of the grounds on the rim of the filter because over time that can gum up the area where the water is pumped out into the coffee under high pressure.

The can, of course, contains the pre-ground espresso-roasted Italian-style coffee. This is a very good brand, D'Aquino, not expensive, which Trader Joe's used to carry, but which you now have to order online from D'Aquino or find at Grocery Outlet (now and then).

Fill with coffee

One heaping spoonful using the rounded plastic spoon might be enough. Usually I do not need the tamper. I just use the back of the rounded plastic spoon to tamp the coffee down a bit.

Fit the coffee holder up into the machine, tightly, by turning it to the right.

Now wait for the lights to signal that the machine has built up enough pressure to force the hot water through the coffee grounds..


Turn the knob to the right, and the coffee flows.

See the crema?

The aroma is magnificent. Your expectations are high.

Is this not the way to start the day?

The final product


No milk needed. No sugar needed.

It is perfect just as it is.

And it tastes not like dairy, not like sweetner -- but like the essence of



Note that the portafilter here is kept in water when not being used. Very important. The portafilter is the thing that holds the steel filter which you stuff with ground coffee. You insert the filter (in this case doppio size -- a double shot) into the portafilter and then fit the portaflilter up into the part of the machine where the hot water is forced out under pressure. The portafilter and filter are kept in water between making cups of expresso so that coffee residue will not be able to harden and clog the tiny holes in the filter.

The steaming wand can also become clogged up, in this case with dried milk. You could fill a glass with water and place it, between uses of the machine, so that the tip of the wand is in the water. At least try to do this on occasion. Having a straight pin nearby (perhaps stuck into an old wine cork) at all times is also a good idea. The pin can be inserted into the hole at the end of the wand and then used to clear any dried milk.

Parting facts

The foam layer on top of each cup, the "crema", is essential. I have found a good technical account of crema on the internet -- by chemists!

Well illustrated, even with a diagram of your tongue.

Espresso has nutrients, magnesium and the B vitamins riboflavin and niacin, which are absent from coffee made with a regular old drip coffee maker. The precursor of the modern espresso machine was patented in 1864 in Turin, known today for manufacturing cars, by one Angelo Moriondo, though it made espresso in bulk rather than for the individual cup. Before pumps were available in home espresso machines, a manual machine was available with a long lever that was pulled down in order to pressurize the hot water and force it through the coffee. This is the origin of the term to "pull a shot of espresso." A simple and particularly appealing breakfast is in the Spanish style: toasted bread of high quality (sourdough is a special treat) is coated with EVOO and eaten with a double shot of espresso and perhaps some fruit.

For EVOO, click here.

The elephant in the room

Of course we have not yet even mentioned the possibilty of combining espresso with milk. This, however, is not because of an aversion to doing so, but because that whole topic is so large. It deserves its own treatment or treatments.

Part of a series

Pictures, pictures, pictures

Series within series, actually. Food & Cooking, for example, then -- within that -- series on vegetables, fruits, seafood, meat, etc. Books, too. Ideas, too. Travel, too. Click on "featured lenses" at the top of the right-hand column, under my profile, for the complete list. Key virtues:. pictures, clear step-by-step text. Delicious -- whether foods or ideas! All of the series, and all of the items in each series, can be found, organized by floor, at this link: Lee White's Department Store. Happy shopping! -- everything is for free!

Real Meal

My usual statement here is "Real Meal. Unlike fancy food mags, where images are hyped and food itself is secondary, all pix shown here are from a real meal, prepared and eaten by me and my friends. No throwing anything away till perfection is achieved. This is the real deal --- a Real Meal." Of course the food item here is espresso coffee and not a meal I have prepared for you to consider following. But the basic principle still applies. Here we've taken something basic from the marketplace and showed simply how to use it to achieve a delicious result, nothing hyped about it.

Comments - Please! - Converted to the essence?

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