I have had a gut feeling for a long time that some of my cups provide a better showcase for espresso than others.
Now I am going public with my bias.
One of the two cups in this photo, right, far outperforms the other in the job of cradling and presenting the richest, tastiest espresso coffee.
Do you know which it will be?
What is gut feel?
Let’s see if your senses are aligned with mine. And at the same time we can answer the age old question: does size really matter?
The smaller one is the cup above the rest
There is a reason the cup on the left is considered the iconic espresso cup.
It’s small, tapered body keeps that potent shot of coffee safely nestled in all its concentrated glory.
Furthermore, being porcelain, it holds the warmth of the coffee shot, when prewarmed off course, as suggested in a previous post on Why your coffee tastes bitter.
The cup on the right is porcelain but it is too wide at the base, exposing more surface area of the shot, hastening its debilitating loss of heat.
Even so, porcelain beats anything else
In some other taste tests I can report that both of these cups outperform the various stainless steel cups with dual-layered insulation which were all the craze in the early naughties.
The beauty of the stainless steel cup is that I can throw it in the boot with my gas burner and stainless steel stovetop espresso maker when travelling without fear of it breaking.
However the downside is that stainless steel makes the coffee go ‘flat’.
The life and zest I look for and enjoy in my Baristador coffees (I am sure it is the same for all quality espresso blends) does slip back quite a few notches in stainless steel.
I would even go so far as to say the paper cups used for takeaway espresso shots outperform stainless steel cups!
I am sure there is a coffee-loving physicist who will read this post one day and be able to add a comment to explain why this is so.
The takeaway point
My reason for sharing this is to help you enjoy coffee as it should be enjoyed.
Also, when gift buying, I want you to feel confident in steering away from the cute and cuddly decorated cups or designer steel cups, based on aesthetics, and stick with the tried and true porcelain shot cups because they do the greater justice to the coffee and its drinker.
What have you found in your tasting experiences?