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A lesson in winemaking - straight from the espresso bar . . .

Posted by Stephen Meuse  August 4, 2011 11:46 AM

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get what im sayin.jpgGiorgio Milos is master barista for the high-end Italian coffee company illycafe of Trieste and maintains a blog at the Atlantic. In his first post there last May, he criticized American baristi for not knowing their business; in particular, he took them to task for not knowing how much coffee to use when making espresso.  

The biggest mistake I've seen is an enormous quantity of coffee being used - way too much. I'm talking about 20 to 25 grams of coffee for a single espresso shot! It is like making a mojito with half a mint leaf, one ice cube, a few grains of sugar, and a gallon of rum. Undrinkable!

In a post today, Milos says that another year of touring high-end U.S. coffee shops has convinced him that we're turning things around here, but he reminds would-be coffee mavens that the goal is to "create an ideal experience in the cup rather than 'I did it because I could.'"  He concludes by asking them to "resist the urge to over-concentrate the coffee - to 'go bold.'"

I said it last year, and I'll say it again: the right beans in the right proportions do a beautiful job all on their own. It applies to French press, pour-over (individual drip), vacuum siphon, and any other method, just as it applies to espresso.

Observing the classical proportions in any endeavor means organizing the various parts in a way that each makes an optimal contribution to a harmonious whole. And what's true for coffee is equally true for wine. "Fruit, acid, and tannin in the right proportion do a beautiful job all on their own,"  Milos might have said.  

Are you listening, winemakers? 

Ellen Bhang

About By the Glass

Ellen Bhang writes about food and wine and reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe. Wine is the focus of her degree in the Gastronomy master's program at Boston University. She can be reached at


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