I love espresso. Only a few things upset my day more than not having my morning espresso. I make something similar to a Cortado but with my on spin on the drink. The Cortado from Spain is like a mini-latte. You pull a shot of espresso in a small cup and add a little milk to cut the acid and bitterness of the coffee. I turn it into a mini-mocha by adding some chocolate syrup (or sometimes a little caramel syrup, or both).
I have a small cup, about three ounces (the one pictured above). I squirt a little chocolate in the bottom and pour in about a shot (1 - 2 oz) of milk. I hate all the clean up of steam wands and the like and I think steamed milk is overrated, so my little cup of milk goes in the microwave for 30 seconds on high - that brings it up to a nice temperature without boiling it. Okay, so that's a lot crap you probably don't care about. And, that's not why you called.
I use ESE pods. They are fantastic and are super easy for the home barista. No tamping, no banging the puck out of things, no mess, no fuss. If you're not familiar with ESE pods, they are measured and prepacked in tamped little pucks (typically 8 grams) of coffee. The filter is paper and compostable, so no little plastic cups to kill whales.They come in individual sealed packets so the coffee stays fresh longer. If you're like me, you might only make one or two cups a day and a pound of coffee is going to oxidize and taste like cat litter after a week or so. I've narrowed my tastes down to two products; LaVazza and Cafe Borbone.
There are many other brands, some like Illy which is very good but horribly expensive. My benchmark is about 30¢ a cup. I get 150 pods at a time for around $50 plus shipping. If you want to know more about ESE pods, go here.
Now to the exciting part; I know, this has already been over-the-top exciting like a Stephen King novel, but now I want to talk about espresso machines and how to use ESE pods. There are thousands of machines out there, or at least there were before COVID shut down the entire world, and you can pay almost as much for a machine at home as a low-end used car, but you don't need to. I have to admit to an addiction to these damn machines; I probably have a half-dozen of the frigging things around the house, somewhere. I get one, and I like one thing it does but not another. I won't go into detail about each of them, as disappointing as I'm sure that is for the reader.
I'm currently using a Capresso machine. It's small, affordable, has a decent water reservoir, and it works well. They come in a wide range of styles and prices, but I got one for around $100 that looks like this. The one drawback I've found with any of the machines that have the ESE basket for the portafilter (make sure your machine has that feature if you want it or you won't be able to use the pods) is that the ESE pod kind of scrunches down in the basket and water can run around the outside giving you a watered down espresso shot. That's where my tip of the day comes in - oh, I guess I didn't tell you that's why I wrote all this crap - I'm giving you a big tip.
Here is a short video on my secret to making better espresso with an ESE pod. This is what you've been waiting for; eat your heart out Spielberg!
That's my story and I'm sticking to it. If you have any questions or are lost enough to seek my advice, feel free to contact me on this site.