Posted in Kafevend Blog

One of the commonly held beliefs that people from around the world share about the British is that we enjoy a cup of tea. Visitors to the UK are usually keen to try out an afternoon tea in their quest to soak up some quintessential culture. In a way they're spot on, but tea is not the be all and end all it once was, especially amongst the younger generation. Coffee shops are abundant on every High Street up and down the country, be it the well known chains such as Starbucks and Costa, or the independents that coexist alongside. The public's voracious appetite for coffee has been undiminished by the economic downturn of recent years. Yes, we can do austerity, but it helps if there's a caffeinated treat or two along the way.

As the average British palate has grown more adventurous in the past couple of decades, so we've embraced Italian coffee culture. Going for a coffee has become a more of an experience.  Nevertheless, if you feel that cappuccinos, lattes and mochas have become a little passé and want to avoid the sweet, creamy, multi-flavoured choices that are forever being dreamt up to satiate our desire for something new, we have a few tips to share.

The café cortado, which literally means 'cut coffee' in Spanish, is a long established classic on the drinks list in that country. Similar to the Italian caffè macchiato, the café cortado is prepared with a shot of espresso in a small glass to which is added a little smooth textured milk, but little or no foam. It gets its name because the espresso is 'cut' with the steamed milk. It's an ideal style for those who need a quick caffeine hit but find an espresso too bitter or acidic on its own. Although you're more likely to be offered a cortado in Spain, it is available on Costa's drinks menu.

The cortado is often compared to the Australian piccolo café latte, often referred to simply as a piccolo. Once again steamed milk is added to a shot of espresso in a glass, though the ratio of milk to coffee is a little higher in this case, so for those who like a more milky coffee, but can't stomach an entire latte, this could be the way to go, especially if your local barista has an Aussie accent!

Another option that has begun to appear in some of the London coffee shops is the Gibraltar, popularised on the west coast of the USA. The drink is named for the type of glass it was first served in. James Freeman, owner of San Francisco based Blue Bottle Coffee, developed his own take on the cortado and decided that the little glasses he'd bought from a restaurant supplies shop were just the right size for serving it in. This particular line of glasses were stamped with their name – Gibraltar – on the bottom.

If a tiny espresso style drink just isn't enough, perhaps a lungo would be a better option. To make this drink, twice the volume of water is pulled through the beans for double the time compared to an espresso. Alternatively there is the long black, which like the piccolo is an Antipodean creation. Similar to the more familiar americano, yet stronger and retaining more crema.

We hope we've managed to broaden your espresso outlook and whetted your appetite for more lovely coffee!

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