Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2004/04/21

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Subject: [Leica] Starbucks
From: ajt at (Tony Terlecki)
Date: Wed Apr 21 16:18:10 2004
References: <> <zl3phua6g1sr02e.210420041356@server1>

On Wed, Apr 21, 2004 at 01:46:23PM -0700, Joseph Codispoti wrote:
> >>>>>>>>>>>
> Strange you guys haven't mentioned illy yet.
> >>>>>>>>>>>
> Illy, based in Trieste, Italy, claims to be the best in the world based on a
> scientific method of torrefaction.
> Also, they nitrogen pack the containers so that the coffee has a shelf life
> of 3 years if the container remains unopened.
> Their roast is rather light compared to most espresso roasts.
> >>>>>>>>>
>  So - the stove top "espresso pot" which takes the water from the bottom and
> moves it through the coffee to the top - is not an "espresso" pot?
> >>>>>>>>>
> Yes, it is. Espresso by its very definition means just that - express
> coffee. Any machine or coffee making implement which extracts a shot of
> coffee or a larger quantity under pressure is an espresso maker. 

That is a very loose definition. Illy will not agree with you, neither will Dr
Joseph John of Josuma Coffee Company (who blends one of the finest espresso
blends there is) whose rather poetic description I give here:

"Espresso is approximately one ounce of a dark, smooth, heavy-bodied,
aromatic, bittersweet coffee drink topped by a thick reddish-brown foam of
tiny bubbles. It is not six times stronger than a cup of coffee, as many
people imply from the smaller volume; it is actually a completely different
coffee beverage. The foam, or crema, that captures the intense coffee
flavors is as important as the liquid coffee underneath."

"In more technical terms, espresso is a colloidal dispersion produced by
emulsifying the insoluble oils in ground coffee. These oils don't normally
mix with water, but under the intense pressure (9 to 10 bars) generated by
commercial espresso machines, these oils are extracted from ground coffee,
formed into microscopic droplets, and suspended in liquid coffee
concentrate. It is this emulsification of oils, which forms the crema, that
distinguishes an espresso from strong coffee."

"Crema markedly alters an espresso in terms of its mouth feel, density,
viscosity, wetting power, and foam-forming ability, making it the single
most important indicator of espresso quality. If there is no crema, it means
the oils have not been emulsified, and hence it is not an espresso."

"Crema also captures the volatile vapors produced during the espresso
extraction process. These aroma molecules, later released in the mouth as
the espresso is consumed, find their way to the nasal cavity through the
pharynx. They also attach themselves to the taste buds and slowly release
volatile compounds until after the espresso is long gone. This accounts for
an espresso's aftertaste, an important quality indicator."

"The remarkable thing about a properly made espresso is that maximum flavor
is extracted from the ground coffee while much of the caffeine and excess
acids are left behind. The high pressure of the extraction and the small
volume of water that passes through the ground coffee are mostly responsible
for this feat."

It is generally accepted that higher pressure of about 9 bar is needed for the
emulsification of the oils which gives both the crema and much of the
olfactory qualities which makes up a fine espresso. One or two bar of
pressure from a 'steam toy' (as we often call them although it's not intended
to be derogatory) is insufficient for proper espresso. Steam toys make strong,
fine coffee (although I'd hesitate using an espresso blend with them) but it
certainly isn't espresso.

Tony Terlecki

Replies: Reply from joecodi at (Joseph Codispoti) ([Leica] LEICA OUTFIT FS)
In reply to: Message from philippe.orlent at (Philippe Orlent) ([Leica] Starbucks)
Message from joecodi at (Joseph Codispoti) ([Leica] Starbucks)