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Best Espresso

Cuppuccinos Coffee House
3400 E. Speedway Blvd.

READERS' PICK: Say you're just a little too mellow for your own good. The remedy: take a handful of freshly roasted coffee beans from Wilde Rose, that downtown cathedral of caffeine, grind them to a powdery texture, suffuse them with scalding water, and serve the resulting potion with warmth and kindness. Although we haven't seen it written anywhere, we suspect that something like these instructions are to be found in Cuppuccinos' secret manual--and the result is a cup of java that'll please any Joe or Jane.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Coffee X-Change, 4951 E. Grant Road; 6841 E. Camino Principal; 2415 N. Campbell Ave.

CLUE IN: A good cup of espresso has a noticeable effect on the average human body: the brow tingles, the pores open, and the retinal nerves quiver ever so slightly to allow the eyes to see the world in all its painful splendor. If such heightened perceptions are your bag, you'll want to head for Epic Café, 745 N. Fourth Ave., a near-downtown coffeehouse that mixes caffeine with ambiance in just the right proportions. Besides which, the owner of said café speaks fluent Italian. Now, being that the finest espresso beans come from Italy, we're certain that if Epic didn't in fact serve the perfect espresso, he wouldn't dare greet his frequent, Italian clientele with that signature, boisterous, "Bon giorno!"

CLUE IN: If you order it with too much water, he'll tell you. If you start to put sugar in it, he'll warn you. Don't even think about adding milk or cream; and if you aren't prepared to make the commitment to savor the taste of this fine Frenchman's espresso, for the love of God, order something else. Something with whipped-cream. But if you want an espresso that would make the sainted virgin cry, go to Aroma Caffé, 346 N. Fourth Ave., and bow down. In the name of the Java, the Bean and the Holy Roast...amen.

Case History

1997 Winner: Cuppuccinos Coffee House
1996 Winner: Cuppuccinos Coffee House
1995 Winner: Milagro Fine Coffees

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