[Homeroast] Why is espresso in America so bad? Italian perspective

Captain CowPie Coffee at vpx.com
Thu Apr 14 15:03:51 CDT 2016

We got back from Italy a few days ago, and as promised here are a few quick thoughts on my Italian coffee experience.

When asked on the tour what you really wanted to experience while in Italy, I was the only one of 48 on the bus to say Italian Espresso. In the end I probably had over 100 espresso drinks. Mostly espresso, some macchiatos, some cappuccinos.

The espresso is pretty good almost everywhere, but nothing was great. A few were not good.

I really tried to search out the smaller establishments away from the tourist areas when possible

Some places had better espresso than others, especially Verona, Lake Como and one place in Milan. The Milan establishment was some sort of Illy certified restaurant.

Another place in Milan had grinders full of beans but actually poured ground Kimbo coffee into the doser as I watched in horror. They never ground any coffee!!!

Even McDonalds had an espresso machine. It wasn't awful.

Most machines were 3-4 group semi-automatics

The majority of grinders were Mazzer types

Most espresso machines were La Cimbali

Very few tampers. Most used the plastic tamper attached to the grinder or did no tamping at all.

A few served sparkling water to cleanse the palette prior to espresso

Some served a small piece of chocolate with the espresso

Some of the better pours I had came from Asian-owned establishments

Most of the places never wiped their milk spout! At all!

Almost all of the drinks were dosed by pulling once on the dosing arm

Prices ranged from €.80 to €2.10 for espresso. The average was around €1.00

Cappuccinos were usually double the price or more

Every truck stop, gas station and restaurant had nice espresso machines

You usually get your drink within 1-2 minutes of ordering, and are on your way in 2-3 minutes or less

Now my 22 oz shots seem excessive compared to what I got in Italy. I was thinking of trying the single shot approach to see how it goes.

The saddest part was when I arrived at the Richmond Airport and looked around in vain for a true espresso machine. None to be found anywhere. It really highlighted the differences between Italian and American coffee ideologies. Now I wonder if I would trade some of the better espressos I get here to have the ability to get pretty good espresso almost anywhere in a minute or two. There is something to be said about that experience.


> On Feb 25, 2016, at 7:07 AM, Captain CowPie <Coffee at vpx.com> wrote:
> Glad to see the list active once again.
> I am going to Italy in a few weeks and will definitely put his analysis to the test. Even if I must suffer and drink more espresso than normal.
> Vince

More information about the Homeroast mailing list