My problem is that I can't seem to get a properly (to me, at least) drawn espresso or doppio at the cafes that I've been to. The shots are too short, not hot enough, and they're friggin' bitter, but not in a good espresso way. Some of these cafes are pulling ristrettos (triples even - seriously, who drinks a triple ristretto, 20 or more grams of coffee to make 1 ounce of "liquid?"), which I wouldn't mind if they were good ristrettos. The other day I was in one of the cafes mentioned in the article, and I asked for a double drawn a little long - I was told that it couldn't be done that way (so they've never heard of a lungo, a double drawn to about 2.5 ounces) , but the barista said he could pour two ristrettos into a cup...he did, it sucked. Last week my wife and I were at a fancy cafe, where I went to watch the barista make our doppios - everything was at the ready (the $15,000 espresso machine, the scale for tamping, the great beans, etc.); the barista actually pulled a shot or two first to get into the groove of pulling an espresso, then drew our two doppios - they sucked.
Southside is about one thing and one thing only: well-made, well-prepared coffee. It is also among a number of coffee shops that have opened across the city recently, most of them in the past two years.
Add to the list Cafe Grumpy; Think; Oslo; Verb; Mud; Ninth Street Espresso; Gimme! Coffee; Jack’s Stir Brew; Joe, the Art of Coffee; Abraço Espresso; Everyman Espresso — and that’s not all. These coffee shops come in many guises: big with lots of tables; small with barely enough counter space to lean on; some serving food and even liquor, others offering only a few pastries; and a growing number of them selling beans from some of the world’s best roasters.
My set-up at home is a PIDd Silvia/Rocky combo. I pull mainly Black Cat or Kid-O, both from Intellegentsia. My coffee hits the cup at around 172 degrees. I pull a 1.5 - 1. 75 ounce shot in 25 - 30 seconds, using 15 - 18 grams of coffee - depending on which basket I happen to have in my portafilter. The shots are delicious - the equal we've had anywhere in Italy on a number of trips (my point of reference).
So, what's going on in all these fantastic cafes? Do the baristas really know what an espresso should taste like and how hot it should be,or are they pulling all their shots based on how they'll be in milk based drinks (my guess), when the temperature of the shot doesn't really matter. How can I get a decently pulled shot when I go to one of these cafes participating in the renaissance? That's what I want for my $3 - a true espresso, served hot; not something that's meant to be diluted with 5 ounces of steamed milk...it's also why I bought the Silvia and rarely have espresso outside of my kitchen.