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TideWriters Tales


Celebrating the Past, Present & Future

Coffee ~ Make Mine a Double Shot!
By Holly Harman & Terry Cosgrove

   Have you ever wondered what makes that Latte or Cappuccino taste so good? aWhat makes it go beyond that regular cup of drip coffee? Not to knock drip coffee, I love it, but there’s just something about getting a really good latte or cappuccino that tastes and feels downright enjoyable and invigorating. That magic ingredient is espresso. Espresso is a wonderful blend of highly concentrated flavors created through a specialized coffee grinding and brewing process taking place right in front of your eyes at the coffee bar. When coffee beans are ground and brewed properly for espresso, what is created is a rich, flavorful brew with a heart, body and a soul…or crema.

    Crema is a creamy, rich, dark tan foam that floats on top of the espresso. That’s where a lot of the magic ends up after careful training, and concentrated hours of practice on the part of the Barista. The Barista is the one you see mostly behind the espresso machine, and sometimes exhibiting a little bit of “Mad-Scientist” in their attempt to get the perfect grind, tamp (pressing down of the grinds), and length of steaming time. All of these factors have to come together in harmony in order for that perfect blend of flavors to create that perfect “espresso shot”. If any one of these factors is not expressed properly, the espresso will end up bitter or weak, making it anything but enjoyable.

    Approximately one and a half ounces of liquid all together, the espresso “shot” rightly earns its name. Because of the highly concentrated nature of the brewing, the ingredients as well, are highly concentrated. Espresso ends up with almost double the caffeine content per volume as regular drip coffee. But these highly concentrated flavors lend themselves beautifully when creating wonderful espresso-based coffee drinks such as the Latte, Cappuccino, or Mocha Latte.

    So now you know…what makes that drink taste so darn good! Maybe knowing the magic that takes place behind the scenes, you’ll appreciate it even more when you get that really good espresso drink.

    Barista – Make mine a double shot!

Holly Harman & Terry Cosgrove are owners of The Art of Coffee a coffee shop and art gallery in Montross. Holly is an acclaimed watercolorist now living on the Northern Neck after spending her formative years in California art circles. Terry recently retired from a 30-year career as a Navy photojournalist. In addition to supplying the perfect “espresso shot” they are focused on painting and photographing the people and places that make the Northern Neck such a wonderful place to live.


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