Smart coffee drinkers will know these facts about roast profiles, espresso, coffee temperature & more.
1. The Darker the Roast, the Less Caffeine
I’ve seen this one far too many times - a sleepy-eyed customer comes in mid-afternoon and requests the darkest roast to help them push through their day. Well, if caffeine is what you’re looking for my friend, you are asking for the wrong thing. While super dark roasts tend to have that distinct, sometimes burnt taste to them, don’t confuse that bitterness with an increase in caffeine. In actuality, the lighter the roast, the more caffeine. During the roast process, caffeine is actually cooked off. If you need a boost, ask for the lightest roast and shock your palate with the interesting complexities and nuanced flavors of a lighter profile. If you still like dark roasts, more power to you!
2. Espresso Does Not Have More Caffeine Than Coffee*
Speaking of caffeine, many mistakenly believe that espresso drinks will leave them with more of a caffeine buzz than drip, also known as filter, coffee alternatives. The fact is a double shot of espresso, the amount used in most espresso-based drinks contains about 80mg of caffeine. An average 12oz. coffee, on the other hand, has 50% more caffeine, around 120mg. The reason for the asterisk is that espresso does, in fact, contain more caffeine per fluid oz than coffee but then again, I don’t know of many people drinking 12oz espressos and living to tell the story.
3. Starbucks Has Lied to You About Macchiatos
Warning, this is a topic that will get many baristas HEATED. So being the good friend that I am, I’m here to impart some knowledge, so you avoid those uncomfortable interactions at the coffee shop.
A macchiato is an Italian espresso drink that is made with a shot of espresso and a dollop of foamed milk. The word macchiato in Italian literally means “marked,” which refers to the marking of an espresso shot with a tiny bit of milk – the entire drink is about 2 oz and only served hot. With that said, the giant milky drink you get at Starbucks, commonly paired with flavored syrups, is just a glorified latte. So go right ahead and order your venti iced caramel macchiato at Starbucks, but make sure you know what you’re ordering at third wave coffee shops. It’s always awkward to see someone’s face when they expect a huge drink and they get something so tiny.
4. Hotter Is Not Always Better
5. Coffee Freshness Is the Name of The Game
You will hear a lot of chatter on this topic, but here’s some general guidance. First and foremost, good coffee shops will use freshly ground beans. Grinding beans right before making any filter coffee or espresso means they care about the coffee in your cup. Pre-ground beans get stale when exposed to oxygen and make for a crumby sensory experience.
When it comes to the beans themselves, especially any retail bags you buy in your favorite coffee shop – check the roast date and pick the freshest ones. Rule of thumb - espresso is best within three weeks of the roast date, and filter coffee within six weeks. There is a lot to be said on this topic, but I’ll leave it at that for now. Pro tip – if you brew espresso at home, use the beans during their peak period and then when they reach that three week mark, just use them for your filter coffee. This allows you to enjoy the best espresso and coffee without any waste.
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