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Is Espresso Coffee?
Q: I write to you today to ask a seemingly silly, yet surprisingly serious question. It's in order to settle a debate [read: argument] amongst some friends and myself on whether or not Espresso is coffee. Several fine points have been raised on either side of the issue, but we must defer to the mightiest purveyor of coffee and coffee related products that we can think of. The issue at hand is the fact that when I order a 'Venti Peppermint Mocha', I call it a coffee. My esteemed colleague (and former dedicated 'Starbucks' employee) corrects me on this issue by saying that it's an Espresso, and NOT a coffee. I say: "It's made from coffee beans, so it's coffee." I'm even backed by Wikipedia (IMO): "ESPRESSO or Caffè Espresso IS a concentrated COFFEE beverage brewed by forcing very hot (but not boiling) water under high pressure through coffee that has been ground to a consistency between "extremely fine" and "powder". What would your take be on the issue... ?
A: Espresso IS coffee. It's made from coffee beans. It's just a different TYPE of coffee. It completely depends upon the roast and the extraction. Espresso is allowed to go by both names. Plain brewed coffee, however, can NOT be disguised as Espresso. Your friend is right that your drink is MADE with Espresso, but wrong to say Espresso is the only name for it. There is a catch, though if you want to be technical, if you order an Espresso in America, be prepared to be given plain shots in a short cup - not a 'Venti Mocha'! Matter of perception...well....it smells like coffee...it tastes like coffee...its made from coffee beans so surely, its just a form of coffee. Espresso is just a different way of making it, and the beans are ground in a different way. To say Espresso isn't coffee would be rather pedantic would it not? If a steak is beef can mince be beef also? It is cut in a different way, looks different, and can be cooked in a different way but its still a bit of a cow...isn't it? Espresso is concentrated coffee. It packs the same amount of caffeine in a 12 oz cup of coffee to about a 2 oz shot of Espresso (that's why Mocha's and Latte's are made with a couple shots of Espresso, and then like 8 oz of steamed milk). Espresso IS coffee. What does your esteemed colleague think that Espresso is brewed from, if not coffee beans? ...However, I also don't consider a Peppermint Mocha "coffee". It's just a flavored "fluff" hot drink, with more similarities to hot chocolate than to coffee...Espresso is a coffee - it is made from coffee beans, & even though the preparation is vastly different, it is still a kind of coffee. If someone were allergic to coffee beans, you would not offer them an Espresso, would you? True, if you handed someone an Espresso when they ordered a coffee, they would probably look at you a little strange - mainly because of the volume of liquid per serving, as it's a lot more concentrated. 'Starbucks' has taken marketing perhaps a step too far in this regard. I think our traditional USA coffee is a form of Espresso... In many countries, if you ask for coffee - you get Espresso. USA coffee is a weak version of what many others think is 'real' coffee. Spain for instance... Wow, now they have some 'coffee' :) I love both versions of 'coffee', but I don't know the answer. I side with the idea that if it uses coffee beans, and is mostly coffee beans that provides the flavor, then it is coffee, and that USA coffee is a weak version of coffee. Traditional coffee IS Espresso. Not to insult your friend - I really am not trying too, but 'Starbucks' is OVERRATED and their coffee is just as Americanized as 'Mcdonalds' coffee, and no better. They can call it whatever they want, and the public will go pay tooooo much for it... good for 'Starbucks'... but it is really just WEAK coffee. And Mocha's and all those fancy drinks... well, that is what they are - fancy drinks. There's nothing wrong with them, but since they are probably mostly sugar, creams, and flavoring rather than coffee beans - I almost want to say they are not true 'coffee'. Not to insult you either... just my opinion. I like Mochas ;)