Let’s get back to talking about espresso coffee in all its forms.
Today’s task is very difficult, as I would like to disprove two false myths:
- Restricted coffee: the world’s best coffee, thick, creamy and caffeinated
- Long coffee: delicate, light and perfect in the late afternoon
Addressing the topics from both gustatory and technical extraction perspectives.
Let’s start right away, however, by saying that both long and short coffee are nothing but erroneous extractions.
But let’s better understand why!
Extraction in its phases
Without going too much into technicalities and dwelling on what extraction is physically and chemically speaking, let’s get straight to the point.
Watch the video to see how we did this experiment:
Extraction has several stages:
- In the first part, that is, in the very first seconds when we see the drink come out, we extract the most water-soluble and heavy substances. These thus make for a very intense, full-bodied and aromatic drink in which sweetness and acidity take center stage;
- In the middle part, on the other hand, we begin to lose a tiny bit of body, as most of the substances that were supposed to “dissolve” as the water passed through and into the cup have already been extracted in the first stage. In addition, we now begin to feel more bitterness, which will balance the sweetness and acidity of the first phase.
- In the final part, also referred to in the jargon as the “tail end of the extraction,” the drink arriving in the cup is very drained, as there is more water than coffee, and the bitterness also begins to be more persistent.
The drink, having different weights at different stages of extraction, becomes stratified. Reason why, even if we don’t put sugar we always have to stir the coffee with a spoon!
But back to us.
It is very easy to guess that if we want to have a balanced drink, both in taste and in body, we must give the water time to perform all three of these steps.
The ristretto coffee
As can be guessed in the ristretto coffee, by first blocking the extraction, we “cut off the tail.”
So we will have a much more concentrated drink, that is, with less water relative to the amount extracted from the coffee.
It will also be pushed toward greater sweetness and acidity, while bitterness is consistently reduced.
That said, ristretto coffee is not really a wrong extraction, but “incomplete.”
The cup will be unbalanced, not having bitterness to counteract sweetness and acidity.
It is certainly enjoyed immensely by many of you reading, but it does not fully reflect the parameters of traditional Italian espresso taste, which in fact calls for a drink balanced between sweetness, bitterness and acidity.
P.S. There is also less caffeine in ristretto coffee!
This is because caffeine is a water-soluble substance, which therefore dissolves with the passage of water. By passing less water through the grounding cake, we will have less caffeine in the cup.
The long coffee
Long coffee, on the other hand, is just the wrong extraction, because it is over-extracted coffee.
Over-extraction means that we have extracted too much from our coffee, thus bringing too much from our ground coffee into the cup, which compromises the final taste of the beverage.
In particular, we lengthened the final part of the extraction, the part that is now drained of flavor, bringing only further bitterness to the cup.
In addition, the hot water, being in contact with the coffee for so long, is likely to burn it, making it even more bitter.
P.S. Long coffee also has more caffeine than a ristretto, although it seems like a “more unloaded” drink.
Again due to the fact that caffeine is a water-soluble substance, so if water flows through the ground coffee for a longer time, it will bring more caffeine into the cup.
So how should one make a proper long coffee?
As simple as it may seem strange–adding hot water on the side!
So it would be much better to brew regular coffee and add hot water in the desired amount separately.
And I already know what you are thinking, “so he becomes an American and I don’t drink slop!”
First of all, because there is much more water in the American, secondly–try it to believe it!
As soon as I found out about this I was the first to be skeptical, precisely because I am not a lover of American. But I tried anyway, and since then I can’t help myself!
It really has a better taste: it is more aromatic and expresses a pleasant bitterness.
In summer then it is even better, because I add cold water directly, but just a drop, and the drink immediately becomes more thirst-quenching.