A semi regular outpouring of Michael Smith’s opinions, peeves and affinities.
First, let me explain. I am often accused of being temperamental, high strung or wound a little tight. To a certain degree, I will admit that some things make my blood a little warmer than usual. I am creative (thank you mother), concerned and passionate about a great many things. I live, I love, I contemplate and I am fueled by a desire to share my passion for great taste, locally procured food and the vintner’s labor.
Those close to me would tell you that when stimulated by my second favorite beverage … espresso, my passion is especially fine tuned. To that end, I will always try to be at that peak caffeinated performance when penning future blog posts. My rant posts if you will, may be about something bothering me at city hall, a pet peeve or a national injustice, but rest assured, I will feel better once I get it off my chest.
As an example, I recently purchased some new tables for my restaurant and while my well trained, professional staff were preparing for another day, I spent a little time assembling the aforementioned furniture. The instructions were clear and simple. Align tab A with hole B and attach A to B using the provided self tapping screws. The problem here was that the screws provided were not only NOT self tapping, they were wood screws!
Not a huge deal I know, but in my espresso amped state, stripping the heads off a few screws provided for a more than lively morning. What should have been a simple task, now involved a time consuming trip to the hardware store. A simple packing error on somebody’s part sent my blood pressure up the scale, my temper into another dimension and my desire for another espresso into overdrive.
Speaking of espresso … Here’s a pet peeve. There is no “x” in espresso. It is not Expresso, although I hear it ordered as such all the time and that just makes me want another cup! Mispronunciations aside, today I want to raise the bar and tell you how to take espresso over the top. How? You may ask. Well, if like me you are an espresso aficionado, it is time for you to seek out the next level of the barista’s art … the ristretto shot.
The ristretto shot of espresso is one of the most fiercely debated topics amongst the coffee cognoscenti. It is without doubt, the purists pour. The finest art of espresso extraction, it defies the “Venti” coffee drinker mentality. It is like sipping ice wine at a “yard of ale” drinking contest.
French author and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away … Antoine would have drunk ristretto shots.
The standard shot of espresso is 1oz, not including crema. Unless otherwise requested this should be the default volume served in all espresso based drinks. To extract a true ristretto shot of .75 oz of liquid in less than 25 seconds however, requires an adjustment to the grinder. This adjustment is not realistic in all but a handful of cafes, but worth asking for. It can also be achieved by an especially aggressive packing of the espresso in the basket. It should be noted that the preparation of a ristretto shot is highly debated with no definitive answers, least of all from this writer. The above guideline is one of only many “right” ways to prepare a ristretto shot. A lazy man’s ristretto shot is as simple as pulling the cup out from under the pour when only .75 oz of liquid has run through. But unless you want to see how easy it is for me to lose my cool, please don’t be lazy. I am after all, temperamental and I just had my third shot.
Until next time … stay caffeinated.