You've Been Drinking Espresso Wrong This Whole Time

When the first Starbucks opened in Seattle almost 50 years ago ⁠— in 1971 ⁠— the coffee house would forever change the course of espresso history (via The Guardian). As the decades passed and Americans seemed to get busier by the second, coffee continued to morph into something to be tossed in a paper cup and swept onto work commutes.

Nowadays, America apparently "runs on Dunkin'," ⁠— a nod to the quick nature of coffee to-go. In recent years, the doughnut chain even rebranded itself simply as "Dunkin'," explaining that the beverage sales, not the pastries, are what contribute to its success (via The New York Times). It's all about the coffee: how quickly we can get it, how easily we can carry it without burning our hands, and the disposable cup (via Bon Appétit).

But espresso ⁠— the base of your morning cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, and flat whites ⁠— has an etiquette of its own. In Italy, the drink's birthplace, espresso is an everyday ritual, meant to be sipped at the bar and savored (via NPR).

Sipping your espresso: when, where, and how

The point of espresso is it's to be consumed then and there. Not dragged through the crowded city streets in a plastic cup. Not dumped into your Prius' coffee-stained cup holder. Luca Di Pietro, an Abruzzo native who founded the New York-based Tarallucci e Vino, explains that the customary way to drink espresso is at the bar, in the moment (via Business Insider). 

Yes, that sounds rather romantic, but there's a reasoning behind it. When a barista brews espresso, a light layer of crema, or cream, gathers from the coffee beans' oils. The crema, which rests atop the espresso, locks in some extra flavors and scents that might otherwise escape if you let the espresso tragically sit too long without a single sip (via The Spruce Eats). And, if your espresso is completely lacking any crema, you might want to try a different coffee house. An absence of crema is a sign that the coffee was roasted long ago, according to Di Pietro.

So take a moment. Enjoy your espresso. The day can wait a second for great espresso!