I became an espresso coffee snob growing up drinking coffee in the wonderful cafes of my native New Zealand and working for a time as a barista at MacFarlane's Cafe in Inglewood, New Zealand. The combination of good coffee and the sense of community that surrounds it in the "cafes" of New Zealand forever associated a sense of well-being and community for me with drinking a delicious espresso coffee drink. Ah, the sheer delight of good espresso coffee, especially my favorite the "flat white".
Upon moving to the U.S., however, I discovered a completely new coffee experience. For a start, the industry here is dominated by a few large corporate giants, such as Starbucks, Peet's, and Seattle's Best. Coffee shops in the US are built around corporate profits, turnover, and economies of scale. What's more, "cafes" in New Zealand are typically informal restaurants offering a wide selection of light meals, often with table service, and often with wine available too. The coffee beans are often roasted on the premises, filling the air with the rich, dreamy aroma of roasted coffee beans. They are a complete community experience, a place not just to get superb coffee, but also to hang out with friends. And the coffee is always served in a ceramic cup, or in the case of latte, a glass. If you want it in a paper cup, you'll have to ask for it. The again demonstrates a key difference: it's not a matter of grabbing a cup of coffee on the run; it's a matter of lingering and savoring your coffee with friends, or a book, paper, or magazine. Be civilized and don't rush!
So I experienced a sense of loss to discover that coffee shops in the U.S. are basically "factories" designed mostly for high-turnover, with the coffee dispensed in paper cups. You are not really a guest, and you are expected to be on the run.
But even worse, I found what was served up as espresso based drinks in the U.S. was in my opinion an inferior product. Sure there's a huge menu on offer, and any combination of flavors, milk, etc., but the essence of the drink, the espresso itself, was not made in a way that produces espresso that is rich in flavor and crema. For me the greatest shock of all was to see the espresso extracted into small stainless-steel pitchers, and then poured out into a separate, usually paper, cup. Why anyone would do that was beyond me since it leaves all the crema that is produced when making good espresso stuck to the sides of the pitcher. OK, just go ahead and throw away the best part of the espresso, why don't you!
When I first arrived in the U.S. several years ago, I attempted to "direct operations" from my side of the counter with limited and mixed success, and ultimately abandoned coffee shops in favor of making my own drinks at home. I guess it just goes to prove that I'm an espresso coffee snob, but inferior espresso drinks just won't do.
My friends appreciate me for the espresso snob that I am. Ask any of them what they think of my espresso coffee drinks, and they will tell you that what I serve them is superior in taste to anything they pay for at a coffee shop chain. And I do it all with equipment that is modestly priced and designed for the home.
So several home espresso machines, grinders, and bean suppliers later, I am here to share all that I know so that you too can discover what you've been missing all this time: superior espresso coffee drinks!
So welcome to Espresso Coffee Snobs. I trust you will find all that I have shared with you on these pages will enable you to discover "the joy of coffee". Take some time to read the information you'll find here at ECS, and before you know it, you'll be an espresso coffee snob too!
Flat White Coffee at Licorice Cafe New Zealand I was recently on a trip back to my homeland and of course made the most of the opportuni...
- Espresso Maker Recommendation - Budget
- Espresso Maker Recommendation - Higher End
- 9 Steps to Making Espresso Like a Pro
- The Road to Perfect Crema
- The Golden Rule
- How to Make Espresso
- How to Make a Flat White
- How to Make Latte
- How to Make Cappuccino
- How to Make a True Macchiato
- How to Foam Milk for Espresso Coffee Drinks
- What are Espresso Coffee Beans
- How to Make Ice Blended Coffee
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