Beautiful crema on this short black espresso - photo Craig Jewell

Beautiful crema on this short black espresso - photo Craig Jewell

I am often asked to explain what is meant by the term “spirit of espresso”. Let me explain.

To me, when I drink coffee, I am seeking a small potent sip of the most delicious nectar the earth can provide.

While there are many ways to prepare coffee, I throw my lot with the baristas in Italy. These people know coffee, they love coffee, they live for coffee, they understand that to drink coffee is to live life well. Ask a barista in Italy for a coffee, and you will be served a shot in a small cup AND the barista will care about your reaction. Most of your fellow drinkers will stand at the bar, consume their coffee in a sip or two, and then be on their way.

This whole theatre and gourmet experience is what the spirit of espresso is all about. It is the human race at its highest level of sophistication and culture. It is about enjoying coffee as the small but important punctuation marks of our day. Note I said “punctuation mark” and not “paragraph”. Unlike the milk drinks which take a long time to consume and can hide a multitude of coffee flaws, the small shot of espresso is akin to a glimpse of the divine. And just like experiencing divine intervention, the experience lingers and permeates our lives long after the event. It is quite common to still be enjoying the after taste of a good espresso shot 15, 20, or 30 minutes after consumption.

Personally, I believe coffee should only be consumed in the guise of a short black, or shot, or, to be totally honest, as a ristretto. These drinks are the most exquisite way to explore the flavour of the beans. And it is the flavour I seek, not the caffeine shot.

As we say at Baristador Coffee, “flavour trumps caffeine”.

Yours in the spirit of espresso

Steve Davis
Founder / Espresso Evangelist
[email protected]