company - education - coffee

Monday, September 18, 2006

Espresso and absolutes?

I just finished covering a bit at the shop so Simon could get a emergency dentist appointment. Painful so I sympathize. I caught up a bit and heard some different things going down. A lot of people have been coming in and asking for 'ristretto' lately. Not just straight shots but in everything. A bit annoying. Simon's pulls the Ecco as ristretto and anything else they guest that tastes better as a ristretto.

I think it goes to the NY times article where Ken Nye got some plentiful coverage on ranting about the ristretto in espresso. It reminded me of something GHH said about espresso is only 2oz and that is the only espresso.

I just don't really know if I am alone on this, but I feel like there are not many cut and dry absolutes for espresso. There are variables but there are only a few things in espresso that you could say are true for all beans. Fresh roasted, tamped, clean machine, fresh blades, etc fall into the obvious but what about extractions and beans to use for espresso? I have on occassion pointlessly weighed in and started fights with people on forums who post absolutes(Jim and Jon, right Jason...) for one size fits all home user advice. When somebody says triple updosed is the only way to go or that only certain beans can make good shots, I get a little ruffled. No disrespect to anyone who has an opinion of what they like, but I feel like it is so limiting in an area we understand so little about to declare anything as absolute. We as a passionate coffee culture don't know espresso very well. That much I know is absolute. I am only beginning to understand the magnitude of the research I personally need to do in espresso to better understand it.

The thing is, how many people are just experimenting and playing with temp, volume, and dose to find the sweet spots in each coffee(not commercial blends but individual coffees pre blend or SOE)?

Maybe I am off on my own on this, but I really feel like few of us in the industry are talking about the same things when we talk about espresso. Some of us are hung up on being techies, some like the culture/community, some just like the flavors. It's all a bit muddled.


PS to you know who: Master Barista??? It sounds a bit arrogant and I know you aren't...