Ok I know this is my second post today and I am in danger of some overkill but I felt it was time for a little rant, so brace yourself Betty.
Espresso: why don't so-called 'cafes' know what it is? (I shall not even mention those other beverages they call coffee - cappuccino, americano, frappuccino...etc - in these establishments, they do not even merit attention: in the words of Dante's Virgil: 'non ragionam di lor, ma guarda e passa'). Espresso is NOT a cup of strong coffee in a small(er) cup. Let us get that clear, first of all. Espresso is NOT some 16-year-old's personal interpretation of 'a coffee' behind the counter at my local cafe.
Espresso must be very very (very) small. That is important. And that is why it is an 'espresso', id est: if you cannot drink it quickly then it's not bloody espresso! Anything more than two or three thimblefulls is too much. Second: it must have a very thick and rich cream on top, what we call 'la cremina'. This adds a real smoothness to the brace of coffee at the bottom of the cup.
Why do you never get this kind of coffee in England (or Ireland for that matter)? Because we are surrounded by nouveau riche pseudo-cosmopolitans who had never heard of a cappucino five years ago and still don't know what one is. These are the people who ask for a 'panini' blithly unaware of its plural form - the singular is 'panino' dear reader, and do not be afraid to use it. Where should one go for an espresso. Italy, of course. What if you cannot get to Italy?
Thankfully all is not lost. There are several things one can do. Joe's Cafe, on the Cowley Road in Oxford do a sublime espresso. In Dublin, Dunne and Crescenzi, on South Frederick St, serve lovely Palombini; Enoteca delle Langhe in Quartier Bloom (it's hard to keep a straight face writing that, but that's what it's called...more nouveau riche) do gorgeous Italian food and coffee; and La Corte in the Epicurean Food Hall also do a good coffee. If you cannot get to any of these places then there is one other thing you can do. Buy Bialetti's wonderful 'Brikka' machine: it really does work. And you need a machine for this by the way, not one of those plunger things, so throw that out. And don't waste your money on one of those home espresso bars because you won't make enough coffee for them to start making good coffee - in a cafe they are on the go all the time and the coffee gets better during the day.
So my question is: where else can one find a good coffee? By 'coffee' I mean of course 'espresso'. Please post. And if what you think is a lovely coffee does not exactly conform to the description above in the second paragraph then you are being conned and please don't bother posting where I can get such a coffee.
Finally, I am a nice person. I know that you wouldn't think it from this post, but I have a bit of a crazy coffee thing and I kind of lose rhyme and reason for espresso. I promise I'll say no more about this.