What's So Great About Espresso?

The best answer to any question.
Feb. 11 2014 8:49 AM

What's So Great About Espresso?

108290377-customer-samples-freshly-brewed-espresso-at-bonanza
A customer samples freshly brewed espresso at Bonanza Coffee Roasters in 2011 in Berlin.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

This question originally appeared on Quora.

pbaskerville

Answer by Peter Baskerville, founded, owned, and managed more than 15 cafés and coffee shops and made more than 100,000 cups of espresso coffee for customers:

Advertisement

Just three experiences with an espresso "god shot" and you would have your answer. As a barista in the many cafés I've owned, I've watched countless customers turn from passive, generally disinterested coffee consumers into evangelizing espresso snobs on the back of just three experience with this "elixir of the gods." See, once you have developed a taste for the finest espresso, you just can't drink the other stuff.

Espresso is a process of coffee-making that was developed during the past century by the same Italian culture that has given the world such delights as the classic Barolo, Brunello, and Bolgheri wines; gelato ice cream and the dessert tiramisu; fashion brands such as Gucci, Versace, and Prada; jewelery labels such as Bulgari and Luxottica; and cars like the Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, and Lamborghini. So Italy is a culture that you can trust to deliver quality and taste perfection, and that's what they have also done with their espresso coffee brewing method.

At its simplest level, the espresso coffee brewing method extracts the best without the worst of coffee's taste components. It's the only coffee brewing method that can extract the best of the 800 aromatic compounds found in roasted coffee without including the naturally occurring chlorogenic acids or more commonly categorized as tannins or tannic acids. If poorly processed, these tannic acids can leach into the coffee brew, adding an astringent bitter taste that is characteristic of so many other brewing methods.

Only the espresso brewing method:

Grinds to beverage order and immediately captures the most delicate of the 800 aromatic compounds that are so susceptible to ambient air and moisture that they are lost within 15 minutes of grinding. (That's why coffee often smells better than it tastes.)

Uses the finest ground particles that can form the perfect resistance to an optimal high-pressure and high-temperature brewing process, so it can express the best of the aromatic compounds. Other methods use a courser grind with minimal pressure and inconsistent temperatures, often leaving the best coffee oils still trapped within these larger coffee particles and not extracted into the cup.

Delivers optimal consistency to every cup by machine automating many of the steps in the brewing process, which eliminates the variances and degrading outcomes caused by erring human estimations.

Delivers the long-lingering, caramelized aftertaste with its concentration and high viscosity of emulsified coffee oils that become trapped by taste receptors on the back of the tongue and throat. This slowly releases the dissolved aromatic compounds for up to 20 minutes after consumption.

Has the shortest brewing cycle (20-25 seconds), which ensures that the tannic acid that occurs naturally in coffee beans with concentrations in the outer shell does not have the opportunity to break down and leach into and add bitterness to the cup as other coffee-making methods are prone to do.

More questions on Espresso:

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

Naomi Klein Is Wrong

Multinational corporations are doing more than governments to halt climate change.

The Strange History of Wives Gazing at Their Husbands in Political Ads

Television

See Me

Transparent is the fall’s only great new show.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 12:04 PM John Hodgman on Why He Wore a Blue Dress to Impersonate Ayn Rand
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 1:38 PM Mad About Modi
 Why the controversial Indian prime minister drew 19,000 cheering fans to Madison Square Garden.

  Business
Building a Better Workplace
Sept. 30 2014 1:16 PM You Deserve a Pre-cation The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.
  Life
Education
Sept. 30 2014 1:48 PM Thrashed Florida State’s new president is underqualified and mistrusted. But here’s how he can turn it around.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 30 2014 11:42 AM Listen to Our September Music Roundup Hot tracks from a cooler month, exclusively for Slate Plus members.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 12:42 PM How to Save Broken Mayonnaise
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 11:55 AM The Justice Department Is Cracking Down on Sales of Spyware Used in Stalking
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath the Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.