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

Captain CowPie Coffee at vpx.com
Mon Apr 18 20:21:12 CDT 2016


Jim,

I had forgotten about the sugar and spoon that they always gave you. And no roasteries that I could find either, but I had a very limited time in each place. It would be nice to go back and spend some quality time in each area.

Vince


> On Apr 15, 2016, at 6:32 PM, Jim Foote <jimmfoote at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> Vince, I just got back from Italy and have similar observations.  Espresso
> (i.e. caffe) everywhere, always a very short single shot. This was
> surprising to me since I only pull double shots and find that is the case
> with most espresso shops here in British Columbia. I never saw an Italian
> order a caffe and not add sugar.  Some very good, most good and a few not
> so good but many list participants likely more discerning than me.  Don't
> remember seeing a roastery + coffee bar, always a known commercial coffee
> was used.  I found one store in Rome that ground coffee to spec but didn't
> roast its own.  Seemed to be a lot fewer home roasters and even home
> grinders than I sense is the case in Canada and USA.  Most stores where we
> shopped for groceries only handled ground coffee.
> 
> We AirBnB'd it for 2 months, almost always had the standard Italian coffee
> maker that I came to accept rather than get up and hit the streets for an
> espresso (until later).  Gelato, another obsession, is almost as common as
> caffe, but that is another matter.
> 
> Spent most of our time in Sicily with stays in Rome, Naples, Florence and
> Amalfi Coast. I didn't see much difference in the coffee culture, maybe a
> bit pricier in Rome and Florence but that is a general expectation as well.
> 
> Experiences were limited but seem to be confirmed by other travellers.
> 
> Jim
> 
> 
> 
> On Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 1:03 PM, Captain CowPie <Coffee at vpx.com> wrote:
> 
>> 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.
>> 
>> Vince
>> 
>>> 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
>>> 
>> 
>> 
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> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> jimmfoote at gmail.com
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