Great book for the beginner or the experienced espresso geek.
Positive Product Points
Brings out the "romance and mystique" of espresso Made we want to go drink some RIGHT THEN :-) Helpful blending information Good history of Espresso
Negative Product Points
The book is somewhat outdated Not as valuable if you already are educated in espresso machines, types of drinks, how to froth milk etc. (only glanced at these sections or for reference)
Do you know the difference between Italian espresso and Italian-American espresso? Do Italians really drink espresso with sugar? Do you like to look like a tourist by ordering a cappachino past the morning hours? These are a few questions that this book addresses. What I liked: I really enjoyed learning about all the background of espresso and how it has evolved over the years. The information on how machines have progressed from the steam machines of yore to the ultra modern automatics is very interesting. I didn't know the history of the E61 grouphead or who La Pavoni was so famous from before. In other words, this book gives a great history lesson. I also enjoyed the descriptions of how to build blends and what are the key parts. Are you looking for a sweet espresso or a sharper flavor to cut through milk? I am intrigued by blends and it was helpful to read about where to at least get started. What I disliked: I have been researching, experiencing, tasting espresso for a few years. I have spent time here, at alt.coffee, at sweetmarias.com and other sites learning termenology and techniques. So hearing about acidity, body, tamping, how to froth etc. was not extremly helpful to me. If I had started with this book first, then I would have had a whole new outlook. I also noticed the author leaned toward single pulls. Maybe this is a standard in Italy but in America, doubles (even straight) are the norm. But it still was educational. I also noticed some of this data is out of date, but you just have to take it with a grain of salt. If you have been into espresso for awhile you might also differ with him on some ideas or techniques but having conflicting opinions and being able to express them is what America is about right? Anyways, I would recommend this book to the beginner who doesn't have a clue what espresso is, and I would recommend this to experienced espresso geeks as well because the history section can make you appreciate why we enjoy our choice beverage so much!
Amazon.com is nothing great, but good prices (go through www.coffeekid.com and Mark gets a little kickback!!!)
Three Month Followup
I havn't touched the book in 3 months :-( I haven't had a use for it, so I guess this means this is one of those books that you read, you like it, but don't read it again.