To begin with, the word is spelled "espresso", with an 's' instead of an 'x', although the mistake is common enough that you see it on menus and even neon signs these days. Sad to say, your chances of turning out a decent cup without the expensive machine are not good. The process is what gives the coffee its name - developed around the turn of the century by an Italian named Illy (whose company still sells great beans BTW) whereby not-quite-boiling water is forced through a compartment of tightly packed coffee (ground to the approximate consistency of sugar granules) by a mechanical pump. The procedure ideally takes about 25 seconds max - there's no 'brewing' about it - which is a good thing as this renders the most flavour without 'stewing' excessive amounts of caffiene or other bitter alkaloids out of the beans. The long roasting process used to give espresso beans their strong taste also helps reduce the proportional amount of caffiene compared to the lighter brew- or drip-intended coffees. Amazingly, expresso dehydrates better than other styles of coffee - you can get almost decent results with "instant", if you can find it. Use THAT as a base for your 'fancier', dairy-imitative concoctions such as lattes and cappuccinos w/ steamed rice milk, cocoa powder, or a hint of vanilla bean (cinnamon, though popular, overpowers the coffee taste). Get into it - half the fun is the kitchen chemistry experiments.
David Dornian ddornian@xxxxxxx