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The Bitchy Barista: What's Espresso Anyway?

There are moments while taking an order in the drive thru that we get a total newbie pass through. We can always tell by the uncertain stammer, the unsaid question mark at the end of each word that's barely heard over the thrum of a car engine.
"Ummm, yeah? Can I get...a...well, just a coffee? Oh, and with caramel in it?"

Here's something you should know - when someone explicitly says "coffee" to me while at work, my mind automatically assumes they mean drip coffee. You know the coffee you brew in the mornings in your coffee pot? We serve that too in coffee shops (gasp! Regular coffee? In a coffee shop? WHAT!?), and it's easy to modify your drink by asking for a splash of flavored syrups. 
Which easily includes caramel. 

Anyway, the woman ordering had no idea about this difference, but it's a good thing I picked up on her uncertainty.
"So when you say coffee, do you mean the drip coffee we brew? Because we can easily add the caramel syrup to that. Or are you looking for an espresso drink with caramel syrup?"
"Oh...uhhh, yeah, the espresso one? I'd like that."

When she pulled up to the window, she giggled bashfully at her naivete. "I'm sorry, I don't know the coffee lingo at all!"
"That's quite alright - it's a complicated language," I smiled, relieved she wasn't grumpy. There are times when you're trying to help a customer get the best drink suited to what they're looking for, and they just get irritated with you instead. 

 Anyway, the moral of this story is that there seems to be a lack of knowledge on what espresso is exactly. 
So what's the difference between regular drip coffee and espresso anyway?

Here's the short story: espresso is just a more intense tasting form of coffee because of how it's made. How is espresso made? Well, those fancy machines inside coffee shops are designed to force a small amount of boiling water under intense pressure through finely ground coffee beans. Voila, your barista has pulled you an espresso shot!

Is there more caffeine in it than regular coffee? No.
Typically, in one espresso shot there are 64 mg of caffeine. In a cup of drip coffee, you'd find about 120 mg of caffeine. Sooo, unless you're getting a double or triple shot espresso drink, if you're looking for a caffeine fix, go for the drip coffee!
An art piece I made for my caffeine addicted friend
I hope this enlightened you, and let me know what you'd like to know more about in the next Bitchy Barista post! 
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13 comments

Eleonora C. said...

Thanks for the little how-to-deep-know-espresso lesson! And of course thank God for these not grumpy costumers!
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Samantha said...

Too funny! I am totally that woman, haha. But now I know ;)

Ali Hval said...

Oh my! I have been enlightened! I knew that expresso was more concentrated and had more caffeine, but never really knew about the mechanics behind creating it and the measurable amount of caffeine it had.. you have taught me well, Linda! ;) Thanks for clearing that up!

Guess that's what I get for being a tea drinker. An ounce of IGNORANCE! xD bahaha.

Midwest Muse said...

Oh golly, as someone who works at a coffee shop, I 100% feel you on this. More than this I hate when people order in Starbucks speak. Like no, nothing in a 500 calorie drink is skinny and no a caramel macchiato is not a real drink.

Miranda McDonald said...

Thanks for the coffee lesson! I am a big fan of caffeine, no matter what form it is in. Hehe

xo,
miranda

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Kat said...

haha oh gosh that is so me! :P i always stick with just plain old regular coffee but occasionally when i do decide to try something new, I'm like a sad lost puppy haha. but this was a great lesson! i definitely did not know the actually definite of expresso :P

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libys11 said...

i really enjoy just drip coffee.. but it's really great to know this difference!! :) what do you know? you really learn new things everyday! :D

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katie said...

Okay, next post, I want to know WHAT IS UP WITH THOSE CUP SIZES. (I apparently feel passionate about this.) I know espressos are suppose to be Italian and all but why can't they have small, medium, large? I always forget which is which and end up asking for "a small steamer. SMALL." And then I get a dirty look for my ignorance. (What, I also want to know why Starbucks regular coffee out of the pot sucks. Seriously, I'd rather have my instant coffee than theirs, it has such a strange taste to it. And it's expensive. I suppose it's a good thing I only get steamers.) Anyways, I've been enjoying these posts, I know exactly nothing about coffee so it's fun to learn about.

megcasson said...

Yes! Thank you for this post!
I always wondered how many mg of caffeine was in a shot and now I know!

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Toks said...

These are great posts Linda, really enlightning. We mainly drink espresso here, but I've never seen it served with flavoured syrups, sounds interesting. Mainly I get my coffee at Starbucks, but I'm not really a big coffee drinker. Looking forward to the next coffee post. xoxoxo

czarianonuevo said...

i really enjoyed reading this post!


czarina :)

Kim Alston said...

Awww, she was too cute! I'm not an avid coffee drinker either so I always learn something Linda when you write these posts. Very cool and helpful :D

memyselfandlizzie said...

Haha I work at Starbucks so I know EXACTLY what that's like! So funny. Thanks for the post dear. Xoxo
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