Some people don’t like coffee.
It’s a hard concept for me to grasp too.
But, apparently, it’s true.
There are actually people who go through their lives coffee-averse.
Who sneer at the thought of a well-brewed cup of joe.
Who hated coffee at first taste and always will.
Then, there are others – the triers, we’ll call them – who don’t like coffee, then have their first sip of espresso.
Eureka!, they think.
Is this what coffee can be?
This glorious substance?
Is this what the people in my life have been going on and on about?
But espresso is just coffee made differently. So, what exactly is going on here?
How can you like espresso if you don’t like coffee when espresso is coffee?
Well, you can’t. Not literally. Espresso is coffee, so if you like espresso you like coffee, at least in one of its forms.
But espresso also tastes quite different than coffee made with standard brewing methods. So, it IS possible to like espresso and only espresso.
If you do, it’s likely for one of a few reasons:
- The actual brewing technique.
- The roast.
- How it’s served, or
- Who made it.
How Espresso Is Brewed
Espresso is brewed quickly.
To get the important tasting elements out of the coffee – the flavored oils and that beloved caffeine – grounds are put under intense pressure for a short amount of time.
This abbreviated brew time has the advantage of leaving behind coffee’s bitter notes, which are some of the last components to extract as coffee steeps.
Slower brewing methods, such as drip and pour over, keep water in contact with grounds for longer.
That means, those bitter notes in coffee are more likely to be extracted during the brewing process.
Due to this, many people find espresso smoother and less bitter than coffee brewed through other means.
The second reason you might like espresso but not coffee is the roast.
Coffee comes in all sorts of roasts and blends, and whether or not you like a particular blend is entirely subjective.
It’s all about how a particular roast or blend sits on your taste buds.
Not always, but generally speaking, espresso uses dark coffee roasts.
So, if you’ve tried coffee, but aren’t sure what roast was used to make that coffee, you may be reacting to the roast and not the brewing technique.
Probably not, but it is possible.
Also, if you tried your espresso at a coffee shop, keep in mind that (good) coffee shop’s use high-quality roasts for their espresso.
Many drinkers can tell a high-quality coffee roast from a poor-quality roast.
Poor coffee roasts tend to be more acidic and taste bitter as a result.
So, now you get to consider if you really don’t like coffee (after all, espresso is coffee), or if you just discovered you only like coffee made from dark, high-quality roasts.
The third reason you might like espresso but not coffee is kind of a no-brainer.
Espresso is served quite differently than regular coffee.
If you like straight espresso with nothing in it, this one probably doesn’t apply to you. You’re more likely a “brewing technique” person.
If you like espresso drinks, though – lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites, etc. – it may be more about the milk than the espresso.
Now, you may be thinking, Yeah, but I don’t like coffee with milk either.
But there is a big difference between coffee with milk and milk-based espresso drinks.
Compared to standard coffee with milk or cream, milky espresso drinks use a lot of milk.
A cappuccino has an equal amount of steamed milk to espresso.
Lattes and flat whites both have more milk than espresso.
Milk is sweet and counteracts bitter flavors, so more milk means a sweeter, smoother drink, even without adding any flavors to it.
And if you are a fan of flavored lattes or cappuccinos, you are off on the sugar train.
With all that milk and all that sugar, a flavored latte or cappuccino tastes very little like straight espresso.
Who’s Making Your Coffee?
And lastly on our list of potential reasons you might like espresso but not coffee is the maker.
If you’ve only tasted coffee made by others, you are relying on their personal taste preferences.
They might make coffee stronger than you like it.
They might use a coffee pot with too long of a brewing time or steep the grounds in their French press for too short a period.
There are a lot of components in making the perfect cup of coffee and the maker matters a lot.
So, maybe it’s time to start experimenting.
When you make your own coffee, you can try out different brew methods, steeping times, roasts, blends, and quantities of grounds and water.
The perfect cup of joe is chemistry, not just between the individual components of the brew, but between the final product and you.
If you like espresso but not coffee, maybe you just haven’t found the right formulation yet.
So, why not play around?
You might find you can turn your coffee aversion into a coffee addiction.