Producing high-quality espresso is far more complicated than most consumers- and (unfortunately) too many cafe owners- realize.
Too often, consumers and cafe owners assume that buying the right beans (or installing the right machine) guarantees great espresso. What they fail to realize is that high-quality espresso requires getting MULTIPLE STEPS correct: the right espresso blend (such as our own Malabar Gold), well-trained baristas, the right machine, and a very good grinder. Falling short in just one area will often result in a cafe producing mediocre espresso.
The payoff from getting every step correct, however, is HUGE, as a well-made espresso can deliver a sweetness and mouthfeel that does not exist with drip coffee. When done the right way, espresso can taste as sweet as ground coffee smells. A well-made espresso can also deliver a creamy mouthfeel that makes it a distinctly different- and arguably better- beverage than drip coffee.
In North America, where most people consume espresso in milk-based drinks, the fact that continually gets overlooked is that espresso is the most important ingredient in any cappuccino or latte. A cafe cannot produce a delicious cappuccino or latte unless it first produces delicious espresso. We suspect that many consumers order flavored drinks not to taste vanilla, caramel, et al. but rather to mask the unpleasant bitter taste of that cafe’s espresso.
As more consumers and cafe owners experience and come to understand great espresso, they invariably reach three conclusions:
- When done the right way, espresso becomes an intrinsically superior beverage (compared to brewed coffee)
- Nothing tastes worse than poorly-made espresso
- The vast majority (90%+) of cafes, unfortunately, are serving poorly-made espresso
Review what we’ve published on Espresso Extraction:
- Crash Course in Coffee Science (TWO-PAGE ESPRESSO PRIMER)
- Anatomy of American Espresso
- Espresso Exposed
- Understanding the Ideal Size for an Espresso Shot (Part I)
- Understanding the Ideal Size for an Espresso Shot (Part II)
- Yes, Coffee Beans Can Be… TOO FRESH!
And if you’re going to Coffee Fest, be sure to attend the Espresso Extraction Class we teach in the morning.