a tasting a day keeps the whateva: day 2, cooling espresso

I did today’s tasting before me ‘n’ Daria Whalen’s competition practice last night at ERC BU, with Daria and our friend Patricia. Daria has been interested in tasting cool espresso since coming across this post while obsessing over Gwilym.1

We decided to taste three espressos separately: one was left two minutes after the extraction had stopped, another was left one minute, and the last was tasted immediately. Each extraction was divided by the portafilter spouts to be a single espresso and a very small single americano (used as a sort of control group).2 We gave each a good stir before tasting.

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It turned out the one-minute espresso was a bad extraction, so we ended up just throwing it out of the experiment.3 We found the 2 minute old espresso easier to taste than the fresh one, due to the cooler temperature. Working in different cafes, I’ve always heard rules tossed around regarding the speed with which an espresso should be consumed (as quickly as 7 or 10 seconds) or mixed with milk/water/whatever, so it was interesting to see that the espresso didn’t seem to change in terms of taste nearly as much as just become easier to taste.

There was a noticeable decline in quality, but it had mostly to do with the texture. It might be interesting to restage the experiment, but let the espressos sit out then throwing them in water. I would think the texture and temperature would play less of a role, and we might have a more accurate idea of how much the espresso’s taste actually changes by sitting out.

This was a fun one. I’d love to hear from other people who have tried to test this or would like to. I’m sure there are smarter (and more scientific) ways to do it than mine.

EDIT: doing a similar tasting, this time blind, Elle at Pavement noticed what should have been tooooootally obvious: that the fresh espresso is pretty significantly more aromatic. Yay Elle!


  1. We didn’t really find anything new about this, but staging the experiment was superfun anyway!
  2. The espresso was pulled straight into the hot (drinkable temperature) water. Tasting these helped us to pick out a poor extraction, but I didn’t think there was a noticeable difference between the americano at two minutes and the freshly pulled one. Interestingly, Daria and Patricia perceived a difference in strength, where the fresh americano seemed stronger than the older one. I think it was probably my bad, setting up the experiment somewhat unscientifically, but it would be interesting to try it out a few more times to make sure.
  3. We were eager to get to practicing!

About barnwolf

head barista for pavement coffeehouse and erc boston
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