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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Espresso powder  
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alix3
Senior Member
alix3
Joined: 18 Dec 2012
Posts: 2
Location: New England
Expertise: Pro Barista

Posted Tue Dec 18, 2012, 3:28pm
Subject: Espresso powder
 

Hello, everyone! I am new to this website. I am a certified barista at Starbucks, I've been working there about a year now. A (fairly rude) customer came in today and asked me for a large espresso, I was very nice and tried to figure out what exactly he wanted, first asking if he wanted a latte' (the part of our menu boards with the lattes is labeled "ESPRESSO" and this happens a lot) and he corrected me saying "No, a large espresso." I then asked if he wanted the shots in a large cup and he went on to ask me how we made our espresso. I told him and he asked if we had "real" espresso, I was unsure of what he meant so I said I wasn't sure and he asked me if I knew what "real" espresso was..Well I won't lie, I am still learning a few things and espresso beans are the only thing I know..So I told him no. He went on to tell me that "real" espresso is a powder, etc. So I was just wondering, is this true? Are espresso beans not "real" espresso?
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yakster
Senior Member
yakster
Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 1,043
Location: San Jose, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Factory / La Peppina...
Grinder: Vario / Kyocera
Vac Pot: Yama 8 + Pyrex Lox-in Rod
Drip: Brazen / Kalita / Chemex /...
Roaster: Behmor
Posted Tue Dec 18, 2012, 4:08pm
Subject: Re: Espresso powder
 

You can read about certified Italian espresso here (you'll need to translate): Click Here (www.torrefazioneparenti.com)

Basically, here are the specs:

Specifications

Water temperatures at the exit of the group: 90 C 2 C
Water pressure: 9 bar bars
Portion of ground coffee: 7 gr. 0.5 g.
Delivery time: 25 sec. 2.5 sec.
Volume of extract (including cream) 25ml. I 2.5.
Drink temperature: 67 C 3 C

For the purposes of this discussion, the coffee is normally ground almost powder fine in preparing espresso, but it is ground from coffee beans.  I've heard it explained that you should be able to press your finger in the ground coffee and see your finger print in the grinds for coffee ground for espresso preparation.

The specifications for espresso outside of Italy differ and vary widely depending on tastes.

 
-Chris

LMWDP # 272
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alix3
Senior Member
alix3
Joined: 18 Dec 2012
Posts: 2
Location: New England
Expertise: Pro Barista

Posted Tue Dec 18, 2012, 4:23pm
Subject: Re: Espresso powder
 

Oh I see. Well thank you very much! (:
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,167
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Tue Dec 18, 2012, 4:40pm
Subject: Re: Espresso powder
 

If you grind the beans and then extract the coffee using the parameters above, then yes, you have "real" espresso.  Of course, you work at *$$, so the beans are over-roasted to the point where the roasting process dominates the flavor, so although the espresso is "real" it's not very good.  Anyhow, that's really not the point here. My guess is your customer wanted a double shot, rather than a single shot.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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MerleApAmber
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Joined: 13 Nov 2012
Posts: 203
Location: Atlanta
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville BES900
Grinder: Baratza Preciso + Esatto
Vac Pot: Yuma
Drip: bah-humbug
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Posted Tue Dec 18, 2012, 4:58pm
Subject: Re: Espresso powder
 

Heh,I guess I'm just a bit jaded: after so many years of espresso products in the American market place, my first take is you had a real life troll. But even corporate management has been known to ply scenario training drills just to see how far a team can be pushed regards"the customer is always right"... Until they're not.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,864
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Tue Dec 18, 2012, 7:20pm
Subject: Re: Espresso powder
 

Ali,
Welcome to the board, we welcome all who seek to know about this wonderful drink.

Your employer does not have a very good reputation in the better than a gas station coffee world. That is not your fault, you seek information and I applaud your efforts to learn more.

Real espresso is made from freshly ground, properly ground, fresh (less than two weeks from the day they were roasted on) beans.

Espresso is not a roast level.
Espresso is not a type of grind.
Espresso is not a machine.

Espresso is a heavenly drink, a nectar from on high that came about nearly 100 years ago, from an inventor (forgive my spelling here) Lougie Bezera  who was seeking to speed up the process of making coffee so his employees would take less time on break.

The first model of the machine produced a bitter drink and it was so bad that no one of the employees would drink it. After about a year, he sold the rights to the machine to (forgive my spelling here too,) a man named Gaggia who improved on the idea and made it work.

The first machines were steam powered but in the '40s (or so) a piston powered machine was developed which produced much more pressure, about 9 bar when operated properly and this is where we get PULLING a SHOT from.

Later pumps were added and soon we were into the type of machine we have today.

In Italian, we have the 4 Ms, loosely translated they are

The Bean
The Grind
The Machine
The Hand

All 4 are critical in the production of the drink we call espresso.


The bean,
only the best beans make great espresso though you will get something from lessor beans but the process is near the limit in what you can do to a bean and get anything from it called coffee.

The bean must be fresh, fresh is defined as less than two weeks from the day it was roasted. We have a saying here that goes something like if the roast date isn't on the bag, walk on by but do not buy. If there is a best by date on the bag, the coffee will not be fresh and it never was intended to be fresh to the customer.

The Grind
A high quality grinder is required to get the most consistent bi modal grind from the beans. The particles must be even and all of a consistent size. If the size ranges from dust to boulders (such as you would get from a whirly blade type "grinder" (it really is a chopper)) you will get bitterness and over extraction nasties from the powder long before you ever start to get the goodness of the bean from the chunks, it just does not work well with a grind that in not up to snuff.

The Machine
Espresso would not exsist if it were not for the machine that makes it, you need a machine that can provide 195 to 205 F  water, delivered at a pressure of 9 to 10 bar, through a perfectly prepared puck of properly ground coffee weighing 7 g for a single and 14g for a double in a time span of 25 to 30 seconds. We tend to like to up dose our coffee volume here, my personal preference is 18 g for a double.

The Hand
This is very important, subtle changes need to constantly be made to the grind, the dose through out the day, this can only be done by the skilled hand of a properly trained person who is the chef of the coffee world, the barista. No machine can be as accurate, no machine can sense the small changes that need to be made, no machine can strive to serve only the BEST that can be made at that moment. A good barista will throw away shots that do not come up to the highest standard, they are every bit a culinary professional as a 5 star chef and anything less than their best is not good enough. This is not memorizing a list of syrups and serving gallons of milk, it is all about the espresso, a one or two ounce drink handed down from heaven.

Your company started with the highest goals and standards, they did it right. They only used top rated beans and you could count on the quality being second to none. Then they got too big.

The highest quality coffee, has subtle flavors, Lemon, Grapefruit, Floral notes, Chocolate, Cocoa and even the soil that the bean was grown in. Properly roasted, these rare and expensive beans are the basis of espresso. The best roast that brings out these flavors, is what is considered to be a city or full city roast. This is after the coffee takes on a dark brown color but long before any oil starts to seep out of the beans. The more you roast the coffee, the more it takes on the flavor of the roast and the more of the many flavors that coffee has, is converted into roast flavor and is lost forever. The more the coffee tastes like the roast, the less the quality of the beans show through, the less quality of the beans you can find, the less expensive the beans you use can be. To the point of the roast that your company does which most here consider to be burned and tasting only of charcoal. Even the lightest roast made by your company is way too dark for most of us here, the small flavors are gone, gone to the roast.

The flavor of the beans changes from  country to country, farm to farm and even to the same farm with the beans grown in the sun and in the shade, all those flavors are there in the beans but when you roast them dark, all is lost to the flavor of the roast.

Your company uses such a high volume of beans that there is no way they can have a consistent product from coast to coast let alone store to store if they did not provide to the store the same product. Great beans are just not available in the size of volume that your company uses so they roast dark to get a consistent product the world over with lower quality beans. In short, they got too big for coffees own good.

Your company used to have high quality espresso machines and grinders, they had training problems so the good equipment was replaced by Super Automatic machines that grind, tamp, pull and eject the puck of spent coffee without the hand of a barista ever touching the bean other than to pour it into the machine. The company went from what is called micro foam in the milk to what we call dish water suds of foam on the milk. We strive to make only the finest texture in the milk, when all done, all steamed and ready to pour into the drink, it looks like wet paint, thick, smooth, not a bubble in sight.

You are NOT a bad person for working for them, everyone needs a job and you chose to work in coffee. Be the BEST you can be for each and every shot made though you have no real control in any of the process up until it is in the paper cup. I again applaud you for your quest to know more. Ask questions, learn what real quality coffee is and delight your customers with your very best efforts.

Yes customers can be a pain, a real pain, Aholes, thankless and plain rude, this should not alter your efforts to do the best each and every drink.

I hope you stay here and learn all you can, I hope you love the drink enough to invest in your own home equipment even though you get more than enough at work, again, welcome to the board!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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MJW
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 179
Location: Silicon Valley
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Dec 18, 2012, 11:49pm
Subject: Re: Espresso powder
 

No need to translate -- here is the Italian standard, in English:

Click Here (www.espressoitaliano.org)

I always thought of espresso as a way to get more taste out of dull or stale coffee beans.

My guess is the superautos that Starbucks uses these days do not meet the standard.  For one thing the viscosity is not high enough.  But I have to say that the shot I had at a local Starbucks tasted better overall than all the other espresso I've been served, except for one.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,864
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed Dec 19, 2012, 6:56am
Subject: Re: Espresso powder
 

MJW Said:

I always thought of espresso as a way to get more taste out of dull or stale coffee beans.

Posted December 18, 2012 link

Perhaps this is why you have never had a good espresso. The truth is the reverse, UNLESS you have very fresh and high quality beans, you have very little hope of getting anything that resembles good espresso. YMMV!

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,167
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Wed Dec 19, 2012, 8:27am
Subject: Re: Espresso powder
 

MJW Said:

I always thought of espresso as a way to get more taste out of dull or stale coffee beans.

Posted December 18, 2012 link

I think you're confusing espresso with chow mein.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 989
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Wed Dec 19, 2012, 2:22pm
Subject: Re: Espresso powder
 

alix3 Said:

He went on to tell me that "real" espresso is a powder, etc.

Posted December 18, 2012 link

Real espresso's a liquid.

The beans used to make espresso are finely ground but certainly not powder.  Powder would overextract.

As always, you have to consider the source.  That customer's not only rude but ignorant and mistaken yet an expert on the espresso.

MJW Said:

But I have to say that the shot I had at a local Starbucks tasted better overall than all the other espresso I've been served, except for one.

Posted December 18, 2012 link

There are certainly plenty of options for significantly better espresso than Starbucks (sorry, OP, no offense intended) in Silicon Valley and even the greater Bay Area.  You've just been hitting the wrong places.
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