The problem with getting espresso anywhere anymore is that EV-ER-Y-ONE is using automated espresso machines.
I'm sure you're all yawning at the thought of me going on some coffee geek rant about the right way to make espresso. Well too bad! I'm irritated, so I'm ranting!
When I worked at the Green Machine (a.k.a. Starbucks) only a few of the very busiest stores has automated espresso machines. Unfortunately, there is no coffee making art in automated espresso.
For example, steaming milk. Granted the baristas still have to hold the pitcher, but most of them are too lazy to do the job right. The trick is to not only heat up the milk, but also create a trillion tiny little air bubbles that explode yummy coffeeness in your mouth when you take a sip. But the baristas, they do not care.
Also, pulling espresso (the phrase used for the act of putting water through the espresso beans). There actually is about a 4 second window in which the espresso goes from good to bad really quickly. Let the water run through the espresso too fast and you get a watered-down flavor; too slow and it tastes burnt. The automated machine is supposed to be checked a couple times a day with a stop watch, but from the taste of my recent beverages, it is not.
So, alas, I suppose I am destined to bad coffee. Or I have to move to Europe. Where they still "pull" their espresso by hand. Did I mention good coffee is an art? The people who can pull espresso by hand are like the Monets of coffee.
I'll just adopt Holly's coffee drinking policy to get by I suppose. She adds enough stuff to her coffee because she doesn't want to actually taste the coffee.
See the pretty hand-pulled espresso machine: