Three Rules to Follow to Pay Proper Respect to Handcrafted Coffee

Categories: Food News

goulding_expresso.jpg
Liz Goulding
It's the week of July 4th, which means it's time to celebrate our freedom in vague ways that suggest many of us have no idea what freedom really means. One of the ways many of us celebrate our self-conceived notion of freedom is by doing whatever we want, whenever we want. But being able to do whatever you want doesn't mean you should, and with that I would like to talk to you about coffee for a minute.

There are a few things you just shouldn't do to your coffee. I'm talking about handcrafted coffee, not Starbucks. You can and should do anything you want to your Starbucks coffee. Hell, turn it into a milkshake for all I care. But if you frequent local coffee shops that roast their own beans or get them from a quality roaster, you deserve to get your money's worth. Because let's be honest, you are definitely paying more for your drink than you would at a place like Starbucks, and for good reason. Independent coffee shops pay real people living wages. Small children in Mexico aren't paid 2 cents an hour to work at the coffee plantation, and while I'm sure they do good work, I prefer my coffee to be harvested by consenting adults. Also, handcrafted coffee is, as the name implies, a craft. It is really easy to mess up coffee when you are doing it by hand. You can under or over extract the espresso. You can dose it incorrectly. You can aerate the milk too much or not enough. You get the idea.

(I was a barista for a little while a few years ago. When I wasn't washing the same dish for the third time in the same day and wondering what I was doing with my life, I made people drinks. I was usually terrified. I pulled shots short because I was afraid of noticeably ruining them. I gave up trying to make latte art. Eventually I decided the craft was better left to more talented people.)

So anyway, like I was saying, you are paying your good hard earned money for a quality product, and there are a three things you should avoid because it will ruin the experience and spit on all the hard work that the barista, roaster and farm put into getting that espresso in your hand:s.

Espresso over ice. Shocking espresso with ice is a bad idea. It messes with the flavor development and ruins the crema. Consider getting iced toddy instead.

Espresso to-go. You just waited 5-10 minutes for 1-2 ounces of liquid and you can't drink it there? Hot espresso straight into a paper cup means the lining of the cup is leached into your concentrated coffee shot. Take the extra three minutes and just enjoy it there.

Sugar-free everything. You probably already know it's frowned upon to lace your coffee drink with heavy syrups, and sugar-free syrups are the worst. This one is also about the type of person who orders sugar-free drinks, because there is totally a type. Baristas can spot you a mile away, and for whatever reason you are usually not in a good mood. Plus you are probably giving your future self cancer. So it's time to let the Splenda go. If it is any consolation, heating the sugars in the milk will give your latte a subtly sweet taste with no added calories or carcinogens.


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10 comments
bigaldi
bigaldi

"Shocking" espresso is the result of a couple different things- carbon dioxide dissolving into the cold water from melting ice will add some bitterness (think sparkling/soda water), but a little stir will release the gas. The bigger contribution to bad tasting iced espresso is bad espresso in the first place.

"Cold coffee doesn't lie"- a great espresso will taste great cold, whether that be because it's cooled off or been pulled/poured straight over ice.

kafromet
kafromet

When it comes to food, even when their heart is in the right place... when someone tells other people they are "doing it wrong" they tend to sound like a pompous jerk.



CitizenKane
CitizenKane

If you are going to write an article on paying respect to espresso consumption Rule 4 should be to never drink espresso from a paper/styrofoam cup.

It should always be consumed from a porcelain/ceramic demitasse cup !


Just saying, if you are going to write an article telling us the do's and don'ts, it is incumbent upon you to get it right.



G_David
G_David

Once I've paid my money, I'll drink my coffee however the fuck I want.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

first, the prices at starbucks are the same as at pearl cup, cultivar or any other local shop.

second, why are you ragging on iced espresso? are you including latte? if yes, then you are crazy, in the deep depth of the hotter than hell summer here in TX an iced latte is a valued drink.

third, how can sugar in milk lose it calories? if that were the case caramel wouldn't be high in calories...and it is. mosly from the sugar. 

Daniel
Daniel

Ma'am, it's a Texas out there. I damn well reserve the right to get my espresso iced at places that don't feature "toddy" style or the looks-like-they're-making-LSD-but-no-inconvenient-cosmic-consciousness stuff they have at Ascension and, now, the Joule place. 

Actually, icing espresso brings out a pleasant nuttiness, I say.


tellyscott
tellyscott

Wow what an odd article. False labels onto Starbucks and all too mundane advice on espresso. Intern?

lizgoulding
lizgoulding

@kafromet Point taken. But I have just talked to a lot of baristas that feel this way about espresso. I also know a lot of people could care less, as it is their right to do whatever they want with their coffee, but I figure there are also people out there that had no idea an would maybe make a different choice.

lptmac
lptmac

@Daniel for places that don't have a cold brew, you should order your espresso on ice. They probably don't care about the coffee they are serving. 

For places that do, this is usually the protocol: https://www.sweetmarias.com/library/content/espresso-definition-basic-techniques. You abruptly stop the flavor development of the espresso when putting it over ice. You can slowly cool the espresso with water, and later add ice.

In other words, this gal is just trying to give you advice on how to get the most for your palate....that's why I love the "you wouldn't ask for ketchup at FT33" part. 

Also, nuttiness depends on where the bean was sourced and how it was washed.

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