As home espresso machines grow more accessible, you might wonder why people still visit their local coffee shops. But while home espresso machines offer convenience, they still can't compete with the work of a professional barista. What makes the best café espresso so much better than the best home espresso? The answer lies in both the ingredients and the methods used to make that perfect cup of coffee.
Craftsman Beans and Roast
Most coffee shops enjoy access to fresher beans than you can find in the average supermarket. Those beans also go through specialized roasting processes finely tuned for café blends. Both factors produce an undeniably better final product.
Even with the freshest beans roasted to exactly the right shade, you can't make high-quality espresso without the right grind. In fact, only Turkish coffee uses a finer grind than espresso. Why does it matter? It all comes down to how espresso is made. Superheated water jets through a portafilter, which contains the ground beans, into a cup or carafe below. If the grind is too coarse or uneven, the water passes through without extracting enough coffee. All that surface area is needed to guarantee a strong, rich espresso.
Another subtle component of a great espresso is the water used to make it. Most tap water is fine to drink, but café water is typically filtered at least a few times to remove even the smallest impurities. This allows you to taste only the espresso, without any tiny extra flavors to throw it off.
Home espresso machines can certainly produce a good cup of espresso. The difference between an amateur and a professional machine is usually a matter of consistency. Variables like the pressure of water and steam can significantly impact the overall quality of the espresso. Varying pressure leads to unpredictably stronger or weaker coffee.
This factor is one that any home espresso enthusiast can overcome with a little practice. But a barista who makes hundreds of coffee drinks every day will no doubt have a better feel for espresso than a beginner. Baristas know how long to steam milk, when to froth it, and the exact proportions needed of every ingredient for each type of espresso drink.
The Café Atmosphere
Finally, the comforts of home offer a certain charm, but there's nothing quite like the atmosphere of a cozy café. Cafés act as a hub for travelers, professionals, students, and more to enjoy excellent coffee in a quiet, relaxed environment. So even if you do invest in a home espresso machine, you might find that you still enjoy visits to the best coffee shop in your area.
Visit a local café, such as Encircle Cafe, to learn more.