Espresso ain't easy

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Rose Tosti and Michael Smith and I wanted to take a pulse of the quality of the espresso at some of the newer establishments and roasters in town. Earlier today, we went on a seven-stop Seattle espresso crawl. The result was humbling and somewhat sobering.

Three espresso bars we visited produced delicious espressos for us.

Two espresso bars’ espresso was technically good but simply not very enjoyable. In one case, the barista didn’t do as good a job as he could have. In the other case, we didn’t like the ashen undertones of the coffee itself.

Two reputable espresso bars served us undrinkable espressos. They were burnt tasting and badly pulled. In one case, the burnt-tasting and badly pulled espresso was served by a guy who looked in pain – maybe a funeral home would be a better place for him.

The good news: espresso is still the king of all coffee drinks.

The lucky news for us: our own single-origin El Salvador Villa Espana came in solidly in the top three espressos we sampled.

The no news: making espresso truly ain’t easy. It takes so much work and flawless execution. We can only hope that with all the diligence we put into sourcing, roasting, and preparing our coffees we’ll serve an enjoyable cup almost all the time.

Photo: An espresso made at Seattle Coffee Works in September 2006, photographed by Lara Ferroni

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