After Part 1 in which we disproved these myths: “The mound in the moka is not made”, “Coffee is not bitter” and “In long coffee there is more caffeine than in short one”, today we are debunking 3 others!
No more fake news: find out if everything you know about coffee is true or just a myth!
Why is it so important to dispel these myths?
I believe that nowadays we are experts or we can become experts on any subject. We have the world in our hands and we already know a lot of food and drinks. At home many of us cook delicious dishes emulating the best chefs. We are able to select excellent raw materials, we pay attention to where we buy our food, we recognize hints and characteristics in wines and beer … but we still rely on grandma’s words and recipes for coffee!
Over the years I have been asked many questions and I am really happy of them, because it means that there is an interest in understanding more, a symbol of an open mind!
And at the same time I was able to collect the “popular beliefs” …
Now is the time to dispel them!
“Making coffee is simple”
This is one of my favorites because we Italians are really convinced of it!
Let’s take Espresso as an example: making a mediocre or even bad coffee is very simple! On the other hand, just put a little ground coffee in the filter, fit the unit to the machine and press a button … something will come out and that’s it!
The worst thing is that it is not just the customers who think it, the biggest problem is that it is the operators in the sector, the baristas themselves who say that making a coffee is simple, not knowing what is behind it.
In fact, when I enter a bar, 19 out of 20 bartenders do not know how to prepare an espresso.
If you want to know how to prepare a state-of-the-art espresso, along with all the other extraction methods, I suggest you read the articles in the Caffè Ernani Blog:
But in short: why is it not easy to make coffee?
Let’s start by saying that coffee is the fruit of a plant. Like everything natural, the beans will never be identical to each other. In fact, they vary in size, shape, density, humidity and so on.
And these are the first three variables: origin, provenance and structure.
After that the blends are themselves always different, varying by level of roasting, composition and conservation.
We thus arrive at 6 variables: roasting, blending and freshness / packaging.
Then, before preparing the coffee, the beans must be ground. Depending on the grinder used, the grinders (shape and material), the quality of the instrument itself, the temperature and so on, the extracted coffee will have a different taste.
And this is the seventh variable: grinding, one of the most delicate and fundamental steps.
Furthermore, coffee machines are not all the same: there are more or less performing machines, with a single or separate boiler for each group, with or without saturated group, with different pressures and temperatures, with the possibility of setting the extraction profile in a way that millesimal or manually with the lever system and so on.
Therefore, knowing and understanding the different characteristics of the machines already requires a great deal of study and time.
And this is the variable octave: the tool for extraction.
And let’s not forget about the climatic conditions! All the steps must be set and modified according to the meteorological variations of the place where the coffee is being extracted.
I know, it looks like I’m stretching out the broth to prove my reasons, but I can swear that’s not the case at all. Just try it at home and see how any of these variables allows you to get a perfect espresso if they are well known, or a bad espresso if not considered.
To demonstrate it live in front of an espresso machine it would take me 2 minutes and it will be you yourself who will tell me “it’s true, it’s different!”.
And so we are at the ninth variable: environmental conditions.
And finally we have the pressure impressed on the ground dough, both when it levels out before starting dispensing, and the pressure of the machine given to the water.
Thus arriving to have eleven variables to prepare a single espresso, which in turn are divided into other sub-categories.
I guess now I seem exaggerated, but in reality I was even too simplistic and reductive.
Now I think the concept is clearer that preparing coffee is anything but simple. Of course we are not saving lives and we are not NASA scientists. It is good and right to always remember that we are talking about coffee.
But it is also right not to take it for granted, not to think that anyone who becomes a bartender really is.
To be able to maneuver all the variables listed above in one’s favor, a good basis of study is required and then years of field application and experimentation.
If you want to experience all of this first hand, I’ll wait for you at the Brewing course – coffee extraction methods, at the Ernani Academy.
For more information fill out the form below:
“Italian coffee is the best in the world”
Nothing more wrong! I upset you right?
But be careful not to get me wrong.
Yes, it’s true, we Italians have invented the espresso machine, an incredible and unique method of extracting coffee. We then also invented the moka, another instrument loved and known by everyone, which has become a symbol of Italianness in the world.
What I wanted to make you understand in a somewhat provocative way is that having an espresso machine is not enough to make a good coffee!
In fact, we Italians have not realized that in the last 50 years we have allowed the largest roasters to convince us that bitter and burnt coffee is the best coffee possible, passing off these defects as “intensity”.
We have the culture and we have a special and different tradition from the rest of the world regarding the consumption of this drink, but we did not realize that the quality of the raw material, that is green coffee and consequently the roasted coffee, is the worst.
First of all because we believe, as we have just finished explaining, that making coffee is simple and therefore there is no need to study and prepare.
Not being trained, the baristas accept any type of coffee, from good to bad. Not knowing how to recognize a quality coffee, the only thing on which they base their choice is the price, always opting for the cheapest one.
In the rest of the world this is not the case!
To be a barista, first of all you must bring certificates of attendance that demonstrate participation in professional courses. After that you must also know how to taste the drink and therefore recognize the quality and defects.
Abroad, moreover, the phrase “a coffee thank you” often no longer exists, because the customer can choose the desired flavor, roasting, blend or single origin, in addition to the method of preparation.
Then on a subjective level you may not even like “American” coffees, and you will continue to prefer espresso, but that’s another story. What I am talking about is the objectivity of the quality of the starting raw material, which here in Italy is difficult to find.
“Espresso is good and made well if it passes the sugar test”
We have arrived at the latest myth of today.
I heard about it for the first time at a fair, when a person approached the stand and asked if our coffee passed the sugar test. A little naively, I immediately thought of the fact that our coffee is perfectly consumable even without sugar and then I replied “Yes of course”.
He actually meant if the cream in our coffees was able to float the sugar for several seconds before reaching the bottom of the cup. If the answer is yes, then the coffee is good.
First of all, I hope that the coffee beans that have traveled all over the world, while being treated by hundreds of different hands, each of which have tried their best to be able to offer the final consumer a quality product, not they are belittled to the simple “sugar test”.
But above all, really?!?
In fact, when you study coffee, it turns out that the best espresso cream is the finest one, produced mainly from medium-roasted Arabica coffees. This is because the Arabica produces a compact, glossy cream, with no bubbles and persistent over time.
Above all, this latter characteristic is fundamental as the cream is the cap of the aromas, and therefore the longer it persists, that is, it lasts, over time the more our drink will remain intensely aromatic until it is tasted.
On the contrary, the thick and high cream that we are looking for so much is usually produced from Robusta coffees that contain a higher content of gas, which create a more frothy cream.
This is however aesthetically less beautiful, as it shows micro bubbles and is neither smooth nor shiny, and at the same time it is less persistent over time, as it is full of gas. They quickly untie each other causing a rapid degradation of the cream and therefore its disappearance.
Sugar has nothing to do with this!
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