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

Brian Kamnetz bkamnetz at gmail.com
Thu Feb 25 10:49:30 CST 2016


Very interesting, Clark. Thanks for the post. This makes me miss the days
when Tom used to lurk here.

Brian

On Wed, Feb 24, 2016 at 7:11 PM, Clark Barclay <pedestriancoffee at gmail.com>
wrote:

> LOL. Everything about this article is incorrect. In fact, it pisses me off
> that someone would write with such ignorance.
>
> I especially like the part about how old machines work better, sure, maybe
> the old technology is superior to many modern espresso machines'
> technology, but the build up of coffee grime etc. is irrelevant. So a
> classic car that's never been serviced performs better?
>
> You got to give it up to Italy for they're rich coffee and espresso
> history and culture, but times have changed. I agree that your average
> espresso shot in Italy is better than your average espresso shot in the US-
> i'm factoring in diners, restaurants, cafés of all types, etc.- but the
> reasons he states aren't accurate. And comparing to third wave is so wrong
> . We're all drinking the same stuff, blended Brazilian beans (mainly) when
> it comes to run-of-the-mill coffee- that's loaded with defects in other
> nasty stuff thats best we don't know about. I love it when I meet people
> from other countries that tell me they have the best coffee. and then I
> asked him where it comes from and they have no idea. People think their
> coffee grows in their country, haha. Trade routes and proximity to coffee
> growing regions was once a thing but now commodity coffee is commodity
> coffee, were all drinking the same stuff- unless of course you're buying
> specialty grade like us here on Sweet Maria's. Globalization people.
>
> As a barista at a 3rd wave cafe, I've had many European customers complain
> about the amount of time an espresso takes, but that's because we are
> making it with a lot of attention. There are two main reasons why espresso
> is faster in Europe: One, the coffee menu is much smaller so baristas are
> often just blindly pulling shots during rushes, so you get your espresso
> right as you order it. Third wave coffee shops, hopefully, make your
> espresso to order. Secondly the barista in Italy, or your average cafe in
> the US is not weighing, timing, weighing again, tasting, dialing,
> adjusting, etc., your espresso. Sure, I can pull a shot in 30 seconds, but
> chances are it won't taste amazing. No two shots are the same- the grind
> setting, dosing, output etc. must be manually monitored and adjusted
> throughout the day if you want consistent and good shots. Then again many
> people will put milk and or sugar in their espresso so the quality of the
> shot doesn't really matter anyway. I'm certain that those European
> customers who complain would be happier with a shot that I carelessly
> pulled in 30 seconds then with one that I meticulously pulled in two
> minutes that tastes amazing. I completely respect people's desire for quick
> coffee, but sometimes I just want to tell them: when in Rome.
>
> Also, I'd like to comment about the regional differences in espresso. From
> my short career as a barista it all has to do with the café/companies specs
> that they make all their baristas follow. For example, A particular
> espresso blend at bluebottle could have a speck of 18 g in, 40 g out. That
> spec will be used at all of their cafés and result in an ideally consistent
> tasting and feeling shot.  There are essentially two types of espresso
> specs, thick and sweet/sour or thin and sweet. Despite what the article
> says finer grinds do not mean better espresso. Grind is just one of the
> many variables, and the setting has a lot to do with the dosing and output,
> not to mention personal preference.
>
> I also love the part where he mentions third wave cafés are not exposing
> the true taste of coffee. Third wave cafés often focus on lighter roasting.
> The more you roast coffee the more naturally occurring acids burn off. He's
> got it totally flipped. acids=flavor complexity. Heat = carbon and lactic
> acid, I can agree with the argument that carbon and lactic acid taste
> better with milk and sugar. You don't need to like light roasts, most ppl
> don't, but you can't say longer roast exposes more of the "true taste" of
> coffee.
>
> Finally, the water comment is ridiculous. It has everything to do with
> what treatment grid you're on. You can't make that generalization about
> entire countries with cities on thousands of different grids and different
> treatment methods.
>
> Ok, I'm done.
>
> Thanks for sharing
>
> - Clark
>
> > On Feb 23, 2016, at 6:40 PM, Michael Rasmussen <michael at michaelsnet.us>
> wrote:
> >
> > This Rome native transplanted to San Francisco critiques and analyzes US
> coffee.
> >
> https://medium.com/@sinzone/why-is-espresso-in-america-so-bad-b0606d8ddeb5#.ubzk6ojd0
> >
> > --
> >    Michael Rasmussen, Portland Oregon
> >  Be Appropriate && Follow Your Curiosity
> > The universe is a program. You're just a subroutine.
> >  ~ Zach Weiner
> >
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