Baristas need to grind the coffee as fine as possible.
Why Espressos in America are not Good?
Augusto Marietti
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Not true, the coffee must be ground to the appropriate level depending on temperature, humidity, and the machine. You criticize Marzocco and laud Cimbali, but the truth is that any machine can make great espresso if it’s calibrated correctly. And a great machine and “the right beans” can yield a terrible cup if not. I’ve had Illy espressos in America that were overdosed by a factor of four, foully sour and poorly made.

For a long time, espresso here in the US has been overly bitter, resulting in a more palatable cup from Starbucks who over-roasts every bean they touch. In large part, this is because the machines in use here are calibrated to brew between 198*F to 205*F. In much of Europe, espresso is brewed nearer to 180*F to 190*F, and at slightly lower pressure. Hand a barista in the US a bag of Kimbo beans and it’ll still come out bitter or sour because of this.

But this is the biggest difference between any of the large Italian coffees and the third-wave/craft coffees in the US: Blue Bottle, local roasters, etc. are brewing their coffee within days of roasting, and with the intent to be made into a third-wave-style coffee (e.g. pour-over or Clover). This combination yields a wonderful cup with fantastic depth and flavor. But it will never yield a fantastic espresso, no matter what you do to the rest of the process.

Whereas the Italian coffees have been vacuum-sealed after being roasted, and who knows how many weeks or months have passed since that roasting. Italian coffees have lost half the oils that would be present immediately after roasting, which changes the flavor of a cup dramatically. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a roaster in the US that produces a freshly-roasted bean with that similar sweetness of Italian espresso.

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