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

miKe mcKoffee mckona at comcast.net
Fri Feb 26 15:48:29 CST 2016

Well Alchemist I've tried to stay out of this silliness repeat topic. Similar blog posts have been made in the past by Italians bashing US espresso. 

On the one hand I agree the chances of getting a half way decent particular style shot in Italy at random is far greater than getting a remotely decent shot in the US at random. Because of government regulation of the espresso industry in Italy and homogenized standards. That said have you ever heard of an Italian winning (or even placing high) in a World Barista Competition? Many Italian barista are true rock stars but generally speaking their coffees are not.

OTOH ANY busy US barista worth his/her salt should be able to pull a high quality dialed in double shot about 1 per minute pace or better. Including post shot pf rinse and group flush. Any needed tweaks to grind/shot do to environmental changes etc. should be made in seconds as you go because you're paying attention to each shot. And I'll add at more like 45 seconds total time per double shot pulling 2 at a time in a slam. ALL THE TIME maintaining high quality shots. Of course that takes experience and practice.

Slave to the Bean miKe mcKoffee
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Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.

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-----Original Message-----
From: Homeroast [mailto:homeroast-bounces at lists.sweetmariascoffee.com] On Behalf Of John Nanci
Sent: Thursday, February 25, 2016 12:08 PM
To: A list to discuss home coffee roasting. There are rules for this list, available at http://www.sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html
Subject: Re: [Homeroast] Why is espresso in America so bad? Italian perspective

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.


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-b0606d8
>> ddeb5#.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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