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Archive for November, 2012

FOOD 101: The Difference Between Coffee & Espresso

We keep these stackable espresso cups right
next to our espresso machine. Photo
courtesy Harold Imports | AMZ.


The flavors of espresso are very concentrated, intense and dark. Espresso is drunk black; sugar is permissible but milk is not. If you want milk in your coffee, choose another dark roast bean: Italian Roast and French roast.

There are key differences between espresso, Italian Roast and French roast coffees.

1. Beans: Special. Espresso is not a type of bean, but a level of roasting. In fact, espresso is typically a blend of beans roasted anywhere from very light to very dark; you know it’s espresso if there’s a lot of surface oil evident. Different coffee roasters use different blends of beans and different degrees of roasting. Ask which roaster roasted the beans you are purchasing. If they’re not your ideal, keep trying different roasters.

2. Caffeine: Less. Because a cup of espresso takes no more than 30 seconds to brew (28 seconds is the ideal brewing time), less caffeine is extracted from the ground beans than in drip coffee, which takes anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes to brew.


3. Crema: Thick. The pressure exerted by the espresso machine forms a thick cap of brown crema (pronounced CRAY-mah, Italian for cream; but it’s “espresso bean cream,” not milk-related cream). Some single serve coffee machines also produce a crema; but true espresso crema carries the aroma and lasts to the bottom of the cup.

4. Portion: Small. Although modern designs veer from the classic style, espresso cups were intentionally made small and thick. They serve a different purpose from the delicate porcelain demitasse cups used for regular coffee in a fine dinner service. Thick, small espresso cups hold the heat; large cups dissipate the heat and the crema. The proper portion of espresso is one ounce for these reasons. If you want a larger serving of espresso, don’t fill a full-size cup: Have another espresso-size and drink it in its peak form.

5. Garnish: Lemon Peel. You may see espresso served with a piece of lemon peel, to be rubbed around the rim of the cup to leave a slick of lemon oil. The original purpose was to counteract the taste of over-roasted, overly bitter espresso: The oil in the peel blocks the bitterness. Italians traditionally serve top quality espresso without lemon peel, bowing to the quality of the beans. However, if you like the added flavor of the lemon peel (we do), feel free to serve it.

6. Freshness: Imperative. Advice continues to circulate that coffee beans should be kept in the freezer for freshness. False! Freezing the coffee coagulates the natural oils contained in the bean. In an espresso, those oils need to emulsify to produce the body and mouthful of the coffee. Coffee can be stored in the refrigerator, but airtight containers are crucial. An airtight container keeps out odors and protects the internal moisture of the coffee bean. No matter what kind of coffee you buy, the best rule of thumb is to buy only what you need for a week, or two weeks at best. Ground coffee will begin to go stale in 24 hours. Keep coffee away from direct light and heat. Direct light and heat begin to cook the coffee oils, and will affect the flavor and aroma properties.

Discover more about coffee in our Gourmet Coffee Section.


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TIP OF THE DAY & VIDEO: How To Make Good Espresso


It’s National Espresso Day, so trade your regular cup of java* for an espresso.

Some people are intimidated by an espresso machine. This video shows how easy it is to use one.

Espresso can only be made in an espresso machine, which exerts a specific amount of pressure on the ground coffee beans. The beans need to be an espresso roast, the darkest roast of coffee beans. The objective is a strong, pleasantly bitter shot of coffee.

You can get an espresso machine with a small footprint that will pay for itself in two weeks, assuming you purchase one espresso daily. With your own machine, you can enjoy a shot—or a double or triple shot—as often as you like, for pennies.

The Capresso espresso machine shown in the video is less than $60.00. Take a closer look at it on

What if you don’t want to buy an espresso machine? The closest cup of strong, bitter coffee is a brewed Italian roast, made in a regular coffee maker.

Find everything you want to know about espresso in our Espresso Glossary.
See all of the national food holidays.



*The Dutch began to cultivate coffee trees on Java, a large island in the Dutch East Indies, in the 17th century; hence the nickname “java” for a cup of coffee.

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GIFT: Tortilla Warmer For The Microwave

Looking for an inexpensive but useful gift for a fan of Mexican food?

We’ve gotten a lot of use out of our microwavable tortilla warmer. It’s just $9.78 on

The tortilla warmer—an insulated pouch—holds up to 12 tortillas, and keeps them warm and moist for up to one hour.

Simply place the tortillas in the pouch, then heat it in the microwave for approximately 45 seconds.

For a more elaborate gift, add a couple of bottles of gourmet salsa.


Tortillas remain warm and moist. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.



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TIP OF THE DAY: 5 Cures For Overeating

If you ate more than this for Thanksgiving,
you may need this article. Photo courtesy


During the holiday season, articles with tips on how to avoid overeating abound, starting with Thanksgiving dinner.

If only we could follow that sensible advice! If you and your family have self-control on Thanksgiving, well, we wish we were you.

However, if you have tendencies to overeat, and then suffer from bloating, indigestion and overall discomfort, here are some cures:

1. Head for the antacids. Don’t wait: Swallow a dose of Pepto-Bismol ASAP. It provides relief for indigestion, heartburn and upset stomach, among other digestive upsets.

2. Take a walk. Even if you can barely move, you’ll really benefit from a walk around the block. Walking helps food move through the digestive tract.


3. Try some gentle massage. As much as your abdomen feels that it doesn’t want to be touched, use your palms to massage it, in a circular motion around your navel.

4. Drink herbal tea. Even if you’re convinced that you can’t ingest another thing, sip some herbal tea: It will help to reduce the bloat. Take advantage of fresh herbs in the kitchen—basil, cilantro, ginger, mint, oregano, rosemary and/or sage are good. Steep 4 to 6 teaspoons in a cup of boiling water. Or, grab a camomile or mint tea bag.

5. Lie down. Don’t hesitate to excuse yourself and get horizontal after eating a big meal. Just 20-30 minutes in a reclining position helps your stomach muscles move and digest all that food.

6. Try a heating pad and breathe deeply. Breathe deeply to relax clenched stomach muscles that may contribute to sdiscomfort. Something warm—not scalding hot—on your abdomen for about 20 minutes can also make you feel better.

Do you have an overeating “cure?” Let us know.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at THE NIBBLE.


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GIFT: Scotchwood Pumpkin Caramels

These delicious gourmet pumpkin caramels hit a home run for the holidays.

Available only through December from Scotchwood Candy Company, they are an irresistable confection and a fabulous foodie gift.

The handmade caramels have real pumpkin flavor (not just pumpkin pie spices) and are topped with crushed pecans. They melt in your mouth. Even people with braces can enjoy them.

Needless to say, the bodacious bonbons did not last long. The box was emptied in a day, but the happy memories remain.

Each caramel is individually wrapped and packaged in a handsome gift box. The caramels are well-priced: An eight once box is $7.50, one pound is $15.00.

For stocking stuffers, party favors, teacher and service provider gifts, they’re different and delightful.


What a treat: Scotchwood Candy Co.’s gourmet pumpkin caramels with a cup of hot cider. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


The pretty gift box needs no wrapping. Photo
by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


Get yours at

Find more of our favorite candies in our Gourmet Candy Section.

Feel like having some pumpkin fudge? Here’s a recipe.



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