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Espresso Help

Q: I am relatively new to the world of coffee. Though I have drank coffee for years, I am only seventeen, and the only coffee I've experienced until recently was straight Folgers through a regular coffee maker. Recently, I have frequented several local coffee shops and developed quite a taste for Espresso and cappucino (not the gas station crap). To the point. I ordered a Delonghi Caffe Italia Espresso/Cappuccino maker. Has anyone heard about this model? Is it any good? I realize it is a VERY cheap imitation of the real $300 Espresso machines, but I figure it's a start. Plus, it's a pump machine not steam driven, because I heard those were trash. Also, what am I going to need to make Espresso/cappuccino when it arrives? ANY help given will be accepted graciously.

A: I hate to disagree, but the capuccino you can get at Staax is extremely good. If you got to the public library, look up late 1996 (aug-nov...maybe...bad the year right) issue of Consumer Reports, they did a great review of steam and pump units from $30 -300. As far as what you will need to get started... find a local coffee house that roasts their own beans, Gloria Jeans in most malls, has coffe shipped to them from warehouses, so the coffee in the store is 3-4 weeks old when they get it. I get mine from St. Louis Coffee Roasters (they also do mail orders). The oldest coffee I've gotten there has been 1 1/2 days old. He roasts 40-50 pounds per day. Once you have coffee that fresh it's hard to go back to store bought. Also get yourself a BURR grinder as opposed to a blade grinder, mine cost $40, that way you can get whole bean, store it in a air-tight container, out of sunlight. Grind it as you need it for fresher taste. If your gonna foam milk, 2% gives the best foam, but whole milk gives the creamiest, I use 2 containers for milk, 1 for foam & 1 for heated milk...more trouble but worth it. As for the container to use, everyone says to use stainless steel, but it's expensive. Don't use PLASTIC, heat from the frothing will crack the plastic when you don't expect it. I have 1 stainless and 2 (heavy) glass, just be sure to keep them in the freezer when not in use.