The Italian espresso is perfect. Strong – packs a punch, but smooth at the same time. Like a syrup. Perfect consistency and not in any watery way. It just sits on your tongue and the round flavour stays there long after it’s finished. It really is an art. Have had countless expressos in Italy, including on motorway service stations when I’m driving to France and can’t remember having a bad one. The French haven’t a clue. The UK chains are a pale imitation. Austria was the biggest disappointment in their so-called ‘coffee houses’ in Vienna where Freud and other intellectuals hung out. In Croatia they’re just really strong but often with an acidic end taste. In Spain the coffee is nice but only con leche. Soho used to have proper old school Italian cafes like Bar Italia, and that was the real thing.
The Italians invented the espresso machine. Angelo Moriondo in Turin in 1884.