Un Espresso Por Favor

>> Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Cappuccino

It’s been extremely hard getting up in the mornings lately and it really doesn’t help that the last week or so the weather was -20ºC outside not including windchill (-35ºC anybody??). Luckily we’ve had a change in weather patterns meaning we’re actually above 0ºC now! Unfortunately that doesn’t mean that we’re not still waking up to the dark, pitch black sky and coming home in the same. So I blame my lack of energy on the super low levels of sun exposure aka vitamin D that I have not been getting as part of a healthy lifestyle and as such I’ve also found that I’m starting to down more cups of espresso on a daily basis, just so I can keep my eyes open at the office and not nodding off on the drive home. Which made me really curious, how much caffeine does espresso actually have, since when I drink a cup of Tim’s small coffee I’m jittery for the next 10 hours, yet I can have 2 shots in my americano or cappuccino without a blink of an eye, literally.

Tamping the grinds
I remember talking to a coworker about this one day as we’re both lining up to get our cup of joe to start off the day (with those long lines in the morning, you really need to kill the time). She decided on Tim’s as many others in downtown Calgary, but I opted to wait until I could get to a coffee place with a nice americano, which of course made her question why I didn't just decide to get a coffee at Timmy’s since we were there anyhow. So I gave her my back story (and no, it wasn’t an excuse to kill more time out of the office since we had to walk and stand in line at another coffee shop).

Extraction
After some digging, it was as I suspected. Although espresso in comparison to coffee shot for shot, has more caffeine (100mg for a shot of espresso versus 80-130mg for a standard cup of coffee), due to the volume of the espresso shot, the individual actually ends up consuming less caffeine overall. Although coffee doesn’t have as much caffeine, when you’re comparing it against an espresso of the same size, but when you multiply the volume of coffee by the size of how big some of those cups are nowadays, being offered at Starbucks and what not (has anybody heard of their new Trenta size?!), you’re going to get more of a caffeine high in the normal everyday brewed coffee. Even when you buy a large americano the espresso just ends up getting watered down by the hot water that’s added to it, however when you order a large coffee, every bit of it has passed through the filter drip by drip and picked up some caffeine along the way.

Foamed milk
Of course there is still the debate of whether or not coffee, or more correctly caffeine, is actually good for you. There are a ton of data that support both the pros and cons of caffeine. I personally believe that there are probably benefits to having a bit of it in our systems since moderation is the key to everything nowadays. Plus if you live in a climate like Calgary, where the sun rises and falls while you’re at work, you’ll need all the boost you can get in the mornings. Just make sure that it’s not every morning!

Tips for extracting that perfect espresso shot:
Remember to tamp the grinds down (packing the grounds) with a good amount of pressure (roughly 9-15 kg pressure or 30-50%)
Make sure packed grounds are level with the fill line
Check for gaps and levelness of the packed ground coffee
When extracting the machine is at the right pressure (check the gage)
You don't have to put the filter on too tightly, just snug still pulls a perfect shot
Double shots are usually better pulled than a single shot due to the filters sides

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