The West Coast is doubtless the cradle of American espresso culture. True, Caffe Dante and Caffe Reggio were serving cappuccino in Manhattan long before the pioneering San Francisco and Berkeley caffes opened, and little storefront social clubs served espresso to domino and card players in Italian neighborhoods across the country for decades. But the whole business broke out of Italian enclaves
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You walk into a cafe. Ominously empty. Hopper's Nighthawks, except it's eleven o'clock in the morning. Deep down you know no one has ordered coffee for the last two hours. With noirish resolution you consider the options: urn coffee that has stewed so long flavor is a remote memory, or an espresso, which at least will be fresh. Then you peer past the barista's bicep tattoos with dull resignation