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What are the enduring traditions of espresso?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:43 am
by Deferio
Just thinking...
A lot of practices and equipment have changed over the years in order to get a better espresso.
What do you think will never change?
What, in this industry, will stand the test of time?


Re: What are the enduring traditions of espresso?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 12:47 am
by Alistair Durie
First thing that comes to mind is the craft/engagement element of coffee (the barista). George Sabados would perhaps disagree, but I think technology and/or automation will always be paired with crafted interaction. I think the same is true for brewed coffee, the Clover being a good example of technology that balances the elements of barista engagement with the coffee and customer.

For customers, I think having your food or drink prepared for you on the spot feels great. Nothing replaces the feeling of a person preparing something in front of you just after you order it. Its a key part of the ritual of enjoying. With super automation, Starbucks lost that part of the ritual of coffee. I think that pain sets in more for them every day.

I think future technology and automation for espresso will happen in the background.

Oh, and no more dosers.

Re: What are the enduring traditions of espresso?

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 6:22 am
by Deferio
I like that.

We can be so caught up with the newest thing that we take for granted the more important things.
It is easy to derive satisfaction from constant change to newer, fast, more accurate etc.
But I wonder whether or not we are losing our ability to find satisfaction in, or to feel that we have achieved something great by, the simplicity of the 3rd place interactions that make our jobs possible...?
In a way...maybe trends in our industry exist as a sort of test. To see whether or not we are secure with the decisions we have made in the past or whether we will second guess ourselves and let trends dictate all we do.

Another thought...
We want the consumer to know a lot about the coffee...we can over burden them with information and turn what was a relaxing afternoon cup into a dreaded lecture on origins etc.
There is a fine line between graceful education that fascinates, and tactless lecturing that irritates.
I believe in the future we (as a larger industry) will become more natural educators thus allowing for a more relaxed atmosphere of coffee enlightenment that does not come out so forced and awkward.
And bringing back a balance between being concerned with the customers experience in total rather than their education.
Lots of shops I go to do not seem as texturally warm or relevant to the beverage they are serving. More museum style shops where hushed tones are forced because nobody wants to be responsible for the clanging echo of their voice bouncing of the bare walls and hard floors.
Are we so concerned with the education of the masses that we are forgetting about hospitality?
I don't believe educating the customer matters nearly as much as educating ourselves.
In the future...I hope we see a resurgence in shops that are warming and comforting. Inviting spaces that are as comfortable as a living room but that create truly excellent coffee as well.

To borrow a quote from St Francis of Assisi and adapt it to our industry:
"Preach the -Coffee-gospel at all times...and when necessary, use words."


Re: What are the enduring traditions of espresso?

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 7:58 am
by Mark Inman

Your last post was one of the truest, most relevant posts that I have read in a while. We should be talking about this subject more often.

Mark Inman

Re: What are the enduring traditions of espresso?

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 1:17 pm
by Drew Cattlin
Hear, hear. Thanks guys.


Re: What are the enduring traditions of espresso?

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 1:48 pm
by td
Very nice, insightful and on the money, Chris.

Back to your original question, here are a few traditions that I believe will endure in espresso, although they may not dominate, they will endure:

Cuban espresso(very dark, very short, and very sweet)

As a matter of fact, I believe I will go have a single right now, with half a shot Flor de Cana in it to sweeten it up (my own little tradition).