Usual “American coffee” is brewed by blending roasted coffee grounds with sufficient amount of water. This allows the mixture to steep briefly and then straining out the coffee grounds. The process is very simple. “Regular coffee” means an 8 ounce cup of American coffee mixed with a little amount of cream, milk and a teaspoon of sugar.
Espresso can be prepared with the same coffee beans and they can also be roasted in the same manner as American coffee. But sometimes high quality coffee beans, such as Arabica are used, dark roasts are also used to prepare espressos for a more powerful flavor.
But espresso can be made with the same type of coffee beans and the same way of roasting. But the grinds require to be finer than American coffee because of the technique of brewing. Espresso is special only because of this unique brewing process. So a special espresso machine is needed to brew espresso. There is an argument that espresso can be prepared on a stove top but the result will be very low quality, and this is not recommended.While preparing espresso, the coffee grounds are squeezed into a solid “puck” of coffee, and hot water is forced through the puck by huge pressure which leads to extraction of espresso. The time to extract should be minimum 25 seconds because enough time should be allowed for the water to be in touch with the coffee. But the time should not be more than 30 seconds. Fine ground coffee is needed as a dense punk will be made and in order to maintain the pressure. An espresso maker maintains the water at the correct temperature, controls the duration and pressure of the extraction which cannot be done by a normal stove.
Espresso has a more powerful flavor than usual coffee. This is the reason of espresso cups being smaller. The normal serving size of espresso is an ounce and a half. A 2.5 ounce serve is known as double serving. Sugar can be used to sweeten espresso if desired but cream or milk are never added to espresso.
Latte and cappuccino are beverages made using espresso and milk. The difference is that the milk is “frothed” using the steam wand which is a part of any espresso maker, into a “microfoam” which is twice the volume of original milk. In the case of Latte, the milk is slightly steamed with the same steam wand but in a different method. The milk is converted into a “microfoam” for frothing. The microbubbles in the foam by forcing warm air in the tightly-knit “fabric” which is created by the protein particles in milk. Skimmed milk has higher protein so it will produce a more extensive foam than full-cream milk. But while preparing latte, making foam is not the main goal, so any kind of milk can be used.
Cappuccino is prepared using equal amounts of milk and espresso. Then the milk is frothed into a microfoam which is approximately twice the original volume of milk. Then the micro foam is poured over the espresso.
Latte is made using twice amount of milk used in espresso. The milk is then heated to 150-160 degrees Fahrenheit with the steam wand. The espresso and hot milk is poured into a cup together. The microfoam which is formed through the process of steaming is spilled on the top of the Latte. The foam can be also put creatively to make elegant designs on the top of the beverage.
You can also sprinkle chocolate powder or cinnamon on the top of the drinks. But this is a matter of personal choice.