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

Clark Barclay pedestriancoffee at gmail.com
Thu Feb 25 16:01:28 CST 2016


Good points John. I'm definitely ranting, I could check myself too. I
suppose it touched me on a personal level with a clearly Eurocentric
article, an attitude I've witnessed one too many times at work and abroad.
A mild form of elitism that deserves rebuttal/ attack, especially with
blatantly incorrect statements that the public doesn't deserve to be
manipulated by. At the least, rebuttal for the sake of rebuttal.

Yes, I'm exaggerating- some points are valid, IMO. I'm no barista master
but have worked at numerous 2nd and 3rd wave cafes in the US to know the
difference. I went to college in Spain and spent lots of time in Italy and
France...if that gives me any credentials.

I suppose it's admirable at the end of the day to see how some
nationalities are so proud, or zealous as you say, about their coffee,
wether their facts are correct or not...myself included.

- clark



On Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 12:10 PM, Barbara C. Greenspon <
lilysownahmah at greensponassociates.com> wrote:

> And again, its great to see the list alive again!  Great points.
>
> Fun and funny.
>
>
> > On Feb 25, 2016, at 2:07 PM, John Nanci <john at chocolatealchemy.com>
> wrote:
> >
> > This is funny.
> >
> > Your rant actually makes me feel the same way.  To me, you are coming
> off as just as close minded.  What in the world do you have to be pissed
> off about?  Maybe saddened, but pissed?  Seems a bit of a defensive
> response.  You are preaching like a zealot who has just discovered religion
> and needs everyone to understand how wrong they are.
> >
> > I'll grant you make some valid points.  It isn't like I agree with much
> of the guy's opinion, but it's just that.  It's not like it attacked you
> personally.
> >
> > In point of fact, "everything" about his article is not incorrect, and
> by claiming as such makes me want to dismiss what you have to say out of
> hand as you clearly are exaggerating.
> >
> > That it takes you 2 minutes to pull a shot....seems long to me. Sure,
> maybe at the beginning of a day, and every so often, but not nearly every
> time.  2 minutes makes me think you don't actually have your technique
> down.  I'd love to hear Mike McKoffee's take....I'm always willing to be
> set straight :)
> >
> > Just food for thought.
> >
> > John
> >
> > On 2/24/2016 5:11 PM, Clark Barclay 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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