I discovered coffee in high school. This was in the pre-Starbucks dark ages of coffee, where most was gruel so weak and bitter that you used a ton of sugar to make it drinkable. But that didn’t matter; the experience was more important than the drink itself. The warm cup on a cold morning. The feeling of the first caffeine jolt hitting my system. The ability to sip my way through mind-numbing engineering classes in college. I was in love.
But then I found espresso.
I still throw back the occasional Dunkin iced “coffee” (1 milk,1 liquid cane sugar and a hazelnut shot, thanks for asking). It gets me through when that’s what I need. However, I am convinced that espresso is the superior drink. Here’s why:
1. Less caffeine: An average cup of drip coffee is going to have more caffeine than a shot of espresso. Typically, an 8oz cup of coffee contains anywhere from 85-185 mg of caffeine and a shot (~1 oz) of espresso contains between 40-75.
2. Better toys: You can make drip coffee with a pretty inexpensive machine or even just with a container with a paper towel to hold the grounds while you pour hot water over them. B-O-R-I-N-G. Espresso on the other hand requires some kind of machine to apply a lot of pressure to the hot water moving through the (finer) grounds. You can spend $99 on a Nespresso or blow $4500 on the high-end Jura that Neiman Marcus is selling.
3. Fewer chemicals: Fun fact: the filter you’re using for drip coffee has chemicals in it. With espresso, there is no paper = no chemicals.
4. More versatile: You prefer drip coffee? Just put hot water over your espresso and you have an Americano, which is like drip coffee but with some of that lovely crema on top. Ice cream lover? A shot over really good vanilla ice cream (affogato) is the elite dessert. Making homemade coffee barbecue sauce? Honey cake? Doesn’t matter what you’re making -- espresso will make it better.
5. It makes anyone look cool: Actually I doubt this is true because I haven’t been accused of coolness in some time and you know where I stand on espresso. Baristas do look cool though.
I do know this: the 5 minutes or so I spend making my first espresso are the best 5 minutes of my day. It just amazes me that civilization has organized itself to bring me this amazing, sweet, creamy, delicious product; it’s my meditation when I make it. I’m totally present. In today’s world, that is hard to achieve. Enjoy!