Originally published in
Potentials magazine, May 2007
The last decade has seen a revolution in American coffee drinking. No longer satisfied with weak, flavorless beverages, discerning drinkers are turning increasingly to espresso as a delicious alternative to traditional brews. Home espresso machines are an ideal gift to cater to this developing taste. The best products now on the market enable anyone to become a master barista in the comfort of her home kitchen.
Espresso was introduced to the world at the 1855 Paris Exposition, when Edouard Loysel de la Lantais unveiled a large machine that used steam pressure to force very hot water through ground coffee. Modern espresso machines are descended from ones developed in Milan in the 1940s. Most use a piston lever or a motor-driven pump to produce a single serving of a beverage distinctly different to conventional coffee. A well-brewed cup of espresso is easily identified by its rich consistency; intense, sweet coffee flavor and aroma; and the crema—thick, golden brown foam that floats on the surface and clings to the side of the cup. High-end machines are fully automatic, so all you have to do is put in beans and water and press a few buttons. At the other end of the scale, stove-top espresso makers provide a portable and convenient way to make a delicious and thick dark coffee similar to pressure-brewed espresso but without the distinctive foam.Krups Compact Automatic Espresso Machine XP7230
The XP7230 is simple to operate and easy to maintain. The user-friendly digital controls make it a cinch to brew the perfect drink every time. Can also produce steamed milk for a cappuccino or latte.
$1,200; www.gopremco.comLa Pavoni 8-Cup Chrome Euro EPC-8
This sleek, piston-driven machine is the Ferrari of espresso makers, designed to pull up to eight shots of espresso consecutively, one or two at a time. A separate spout has controls for frothing or steaming milk.
$699.95; www.williams-sonoma.comFrancis Francis! X6 TRIO
The latest in the Francis Francis! X series combines a captivating retro appearance with easy to use functions. Special serving pods ensure a perfectly measured beverage.
$400; www.illyusa.comBialetti Mukka Express
Unique among stove-top espresso makers, the fashionable bovine-themed Bialetti Mukka Express can brew two cups of coffee and froth milk simultaneously, creating a flavorful cappuccino in a matter of minutes. Also available in a plain polished aluminum version.
Interested in other gifts a recipient can use in the comfort of their own house? Click here to read about health and wellness products designed to be used at home.
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