Proper way to drink espresso?

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
User avatar
Posts: 804
Joined: 18 years ago

#1: Post by TimEggers »

A thought has occurred to me and one of which I have not seen discussed (unless I have missed it). That is what is the proper way to drink espresso? I don't mean as far as sweetening it or adding flavors or milk, rather the physical act of consuming the straight beverage. Sip, slurp, gulp or what?

What is the proper way to experience espresso in your opinion?

Tim Eggers

LMWDP #202

User avatar
Posts: 1547
Joined: 18 years ago

#2: Post by jesawdy »

TimEggers wrote:What is the proper way to experience espresso in your opinion?
However you like to enjoy it, of course. :)

My shots are getting tighter (shorter) as of late, and I have found some new successes in pulling singles for the last 3 days.

I can sip one for awhile, but for a real short one, 3-4 sips and it is gone. That's not a "down the gullet" gulp, but it's over in <20 seconds, sip, sip, sip, [sip,] gone. The really cool thing, each hit tastes a bit different. How much of this is the drink itself and how much is the palate's response to each "attack", I don't know, but it is interesting.

I still have the "mug in my hand mentality" a few times per day, as Americanos.
Jeff Sawdy

User avatar
Team HB
Posts: 10483
Joined: 19 years ago

#3: Post by cannonfodder »

The proper way to drink espresso is from a cup, sticking your head under the portafilter and drinking it as it flows is considered bad manners, and quite hot. Beyond that, whatever floats your boat.
Dave Stephens

User avatar
Posts: 21942
Joined: 19 years ago

#4: Post by HB »

TimEggers wrote:What is the proper way to experience espresso in your opinion?
I should pay closer attention, but I believe my habit is a couple sips followed by a gulp. But to each his own. Peter Giuliano lets his espresso sit for a spell, which seems almost criminal. Geoff Corey heats his cups to the point of risking lip blisters.

When I've got time to leisurely prepare an espresso, I like to heat only the bottom half of a ceramic cup. That keeps the espresso warm enough to keep the aromas going, but cool enough on the lips to enjoy immediately. Although many love the Bodum double-walled glass demitasses, I only appreciate them for their beauty. The coffee's aroma seems to suffer in such a heat preserving vessel, I don't know why.
Dan Kehn

Posts: 37
Joined: 19 years ago

#5: Post by CaffeFresco »

TimEggers wrote:
What's the proper way to drink espresso? Sip, slurp, gulp or what?

What is the proper way to experience espresso in your opinion?
Use your nose. Not just for espresso but perhaps for all things that you stick into your mouth. Taking a few moments to slowly draw the aromatics into your nose will enlighten your senses for what's to follow on a larger scale. As a culture, Americans (well, U.S. Citizens, that is) don't take a few moments to savor aromas, perhaps it's because we are a fast food nation or sumthin' -- but that's a different topic, isn't it?

In my opinion drinking espresso should be as quick and thorough as its preparation. From the moment the pour is done I bring the demitasse to my nose and begin a long, slow draw on the aromas of the settling crema. Sharp, Narrow, Long, Tingling, Piercing, Heavy (little sensation) are just a few words that may come to mind. After drawing on the aromas I usually exhale away from the cup. This slow draw and exhale goes on until I "feel" the brew is at drinking temp. Once there, I begin to Draw&Sip. Again, as the cup comes to my nose I slowly draw on the aromas. Once finished drawing I then begin to sip the crema. Sipping is a matter of drawing air & fluid into the mouth at the same time without making slurping sounds, which is socially unacceptable in public or when with mixed company ~ Dear Abbey says so ... (-; ... Hey, if no one is around, or you just don't give a crap, or if your background is of Southern Italian then slurp. The more air action the better the aroma action. After the first Draw&Sip of crema I prefer to nurse a mixture of crema and espresso. Hence, a little swirling action of the demitasse to get the crema in the right spot for sipping. Between each Draw&Sip I usually take a minute to enjoy all on the tongue. Overall, the cup is usually finished within five minutes after the pull. All that is just me and what I enjoy. The point of my post is to use your nose when you drink espresso.

Draw&Sip ~ It's A Good Time,


Tony Sciandra

Posts: 31
Joined: 17 years ago

#6: Post by kanoyu »

Interesting you should ask this. I was just going to post the question "How many sips to finish your espresso?" One school of the Japanese tea ceremony requires that the whisked matcha and hot water be consumed in three 'sips', with the final sip characterized by a sort of audible slurp to ensure that the last of the matcha foam is consumed. I seem to drink my espressos in three sips as well. If each sip of an espresso ought to have both crema and coffee, then I find it hard to drink it in more than three sips without the last sips consisting only of espresso with no crema. Also, I find that if the final sip is quite small, it a) probably has already cooled to the point where I don't care for it, b) has very different mouthfeel, and/or c) just doesn't look all that appetizing. Unfortunately, I drink most of my espressos alone (when I have guests, I'm busy making and they're busy drinking!). Fortunately, I drink most of my espressos alone, so I can make as much sound as I want when I drink them--more air seems to intensify the aromas/flavors (as TonyS noted).

User avatar
Posts: 149
Joined: 19 years ago

#7: Post by jrtatl »

kanoyu wrote: I was just going to post the question "How many sips to finish your espresso?"
To quote one of my favorite (non-related) US television commercials of the late '70s / early '80s: " one ... ta-hooo ... tha-reeee!"

User avatar
Team HB
Posts: 10483
Joined: 19 years ago

#8: Post by cannonfodder replying to jrtatl »

Says the wise old tootsie-pop owl. I get around three sips from a double, one gulp from a single.
Dave Stephens

User avatar
Posts: 694
Joined: 17 years ago

#9: Post by TUS172 »

Hmmm. I enjoy the art of creating an espresso that I can enjoy for 10 or perhaps 15 minutes (as an aftertaste). Irish by lineage and raised in and around Chicago. How do I describe my consumption?
Similarly to what jrtatl wrote:
" one ... ta-hooo ... tha-reeee!"
Now we are counting doubles aren't we?
Imagine the old Clint Eastwood westerns or dare I date myself... "Wagon Train or Gunsmoke" The Cowboy has been out riding herd for 3 months and hasn't had anything to drink but silted pond water. He walks into the bar and says to the bartender, "WHISKEY!" How does the cowboy drink the first one? :wink: Please note Avatar to the left... :P
Bob C.
(No longer a lever purist!)
LMWDP #012

Posts: 4
Joined: 17 years ago

#10: Post by ridgerunner161 »

I have the answer to your question, which will most assuredly put an end to the foolishness posted above, for this humble contributor has been to Cafe Vivace and has observed the Master drinking his own brew. Yes, there I was, sitting with my son of 4 years, at the bar. He, enjoying a large hot chocolate (in lesser company I would refer to such a size as a 'Venti') and I, a macchiato. When before our eyes appeared Him. Unrecognizable at first without his bolo tie and tuxedo shirt, Sir David was producing his ritual of sampling the product of several Synesso's. He demonstrated what is inarguably the proper technique.

Hoping not to infringe on any possible copywrite or trademark restrictions from His acclaimed video series (which I have not seen), I will try to describe what I had seen.

First, body posture. Assume a casual body angle, not too upright as to produce tension in the arms and shoulders, but somewhat relaxed. Affix your gaze on an object about 10 - 15 feet ahead and slightly down from the horizontal. Assume an expression of what can best be described as 'serious inquisitiveness'. Don't wrinkle the forehead or knit your brow doing this (botox may help), but give the impression that this could happen at any moment.

Hold the demitasse by its small handle by pinching the thumb and index finger. Curve the middle and ring fingers around, but not touching the cup. The pinkie finger is extended straight and slightly upward pointing, conveying both politeness and optimism.

Raise the demitasse to the lips, being careful not to move your gaze. When the cup reaches the lips, the pouring angle is accomplished by turning the wrist, but with a hint of backwards head movement. Of course, a slight bit of air is introduced along with the sip which may, or may not, produce a slurping sound. Your audience may determine how loudly you go here.

The demitasse is then lowered and (careful here) the gaze is still unmoved from when the process began. Whether the espresso shot was favorable or not, your expression should not change. For instance, neither smile nor grimace at your product, you are analyzing, not reacting. Make adjustments as necessary.

The above was based on memory and I hope I didn't omit any critical details. My time at Vivace was cut short as my son spilled his cup of hot chocolate, creating a most beautiful brown waterfall over polished granite. We collected our things and left.