Friday, May 14, 2010

Illy Needs to Check Itself Befo' It Wrecks Itself.

Giorgio Milos, a master barista from Illy, and apparently ambassador to the world for Italian-style espresso, has a few choice words for American espresso. Thankfully, I have a few choice words for him.

His article is vaguely elitist, but not too bad. No more elitist than anyone writing about some food about which they know too much. But he makes mention of the "authentic Italian technique," which I found funny. First off, espresso has gone far beyond little Italy. The most renowned, successful, award-winning cafes are all outside of Italy. An Italian Barista has yet to win the Barista World Championship. The Clover was invented in the US. Psychotically complex syphon pots for making coffee are more common in Japan than Italy. Global espresso consumption was fundamentally defined by an American company. Italy... is small potatoes.

Second, he says that if these foundations that "that international associations agree on" aren't met, it's not espresso! What International associations? Ones of Italian origin, perhaps? Truthfully, I have no idea to what organizations he's referring, but I think it's ridiculous no matter what. Food stuffs evolve. It's like saying that just because we added chocolate chips to vanilla ice cream, that it's no longer ice cream.

He then uses the "some people think that" trick for which Fox News is so famous. As in, like Fox News uses the line "some people think" and then simply states its own opinion as though it's supported by others, he critiques beverages from "cafes," as though ALL American cafes have the same problems, then proceeds to talk about roasting like others don't know. Strange, even in little Rhode Island, the quality, taste and style of drinks varies wildly from cafe to cafe.

He talks about cafes using, gasp, 20-25 grams of espresso for a drink. First off, I have no clue where the hell he went. I have never encountered a cafe that does that. Upwards of 20grams? Yeah. More than that? Never.

Finally, he assaults poor grinds. I find this freakin' hilarious, but also telling. I use pre-ground Illy when I'm lazy or my grinder is out of commission, so I'm well-acquainted with it. I now know why it is absolutely impossible to get a perfect double: the grind is aimed at singles, the virtues of which Milos can't seem to extol enough. It's pretty easy to nail 9-bar and 25 seconds with a single, unless you tamp with a metal press, getting the same 9/25 espresso out of a double is impossible. I've gotten close! But not quite.

I can grind the slightest bit finer and nail 9-bar in both a single and a double easily. And even in Italy, doubles are a thing! It's not like no one in Italy drinks a freakin' doppio (Italian for double) now and then. And it's that that makes Milos wrong. He attacks the grind more than anything else, and yet, Illy's grind could use a little help.

And, frankly, any company who produces these:

Has NO room to speak.

A Winning Formula for Traditional Espresso (The Atlantic)

1 comment:

Dalane Bluesfestival said...

Thanks for your insight, and good reading.
I have a bruken grinder, and had to use the terrible illy preground. After tried different sales upwards, I had to put in 23grams in a double to shoot a 9/25. Far from perfect.
I never thought of trying a single :-p