I've 2 customers tell me that the shots are only good for the first 10 seconds after they are pulled. But I was told by our consultant that that was a myth. Anyone know the answer?

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Sooner the better but I would definitely ay 30 seconds is the max
Thanks. Is it true that it's okay that shots to sit longer for iced drinks? Or does it vary by brand of coffee?
I've heard this too, from a Sbux PBTC... must be standard training?

Two reasons to question this:
1. If serving as a double, does the customer finish it within 10 seconds of it being pulled? Would it even be possible for them to start consuming it in this timeframe?
2. Ever watched barista comps (or videos of said comps, in my case)? How long do those shots sit before they are sipped by the judges? It takes at least five seconds just to get them to the table...

Personally, I think Jason is right... the sooner the better. But find out for yourself - pull a double into 2 cups and test them immediately and then after 20 or 30 seconds. Do you find that it transitions from being a great shot to being just ok, or is there almost no difference?

It seems to me to be more about the loss of crema than any huge flavor change. Not that I've played with this lots, but a few times out of curiosity.

Regarding iced drinks, since they don't depend on crema for their flavor/texture I don't think its a big deal. Again, taste it both ways and see for yourself.
As a former SM for Starbucks I can assure you that this is part of Starbucks standard training.

The reason 10s was established as a limit is because the extraction rate of a standard double shot of espresso was 17-23s on their La Marzocca Lineas . This extraction rate, coupled with their dosing techniques, resulted in weak espresso w/ weak crema that broke down quickly. Additionally the company was having issues with partners pulling shots in anticipation of future customers (imagine a row of espressos waiting for minutes to be poured into drinks). In order to ensure that partners were not prepping espresso for future drinks while also ensuring an appealing/appetizing espresso was served they instituted the 10s limit.

The real shame here is that Starbucks "solved" their speed of service dilemma by shortening their extraction rate to 17-23s, thus greatly affecting the quality of each beverage they serve.

With that being said, though, is it all that bad to prepare each espresso expressly for the customer who ordered it as quickly as possible?
Thanks for the insight. That makes lots of sense, from a historical standpoint.

True, espresso should be prepared to-order and well. I'm more interested in the question of whether that double you just pulled for a capp is going to be garbage if you accidentally burn the milk and have start over.

I'm much happier not being obsessed about this "10 second rule". There was a regular at another shop that would come in for a double, then stand there and chat for a good minute after I handed it too him. I always had a hard time enjoying the conversation - it was like a movie where there was a slow motion "tick-tock" of a clock in my head, and I'd keep glancing down at the double sitting there dying before my eyes. He must have though I was trippin...

Thanks again for the info.
Keep in mind that espresso is just a brew method. It's not some mystic alchemical reactionary procedure in a cup.

The shot does CHANGE continuously from initial water contact until the end of consumption, but to say that it "dies" is quite a strong statement.

If the espresso is indeed a quality product, while the flavor may change over time, the shot certainly will not "die".

As someone else said. Experiment for yourself. Let it sit there for a minute. Heck, let it sit there for ten minutes. Taste it. It shouldn't taste bad. It won't taste the same as when fresh, but if it doesn't still taste pleasant, there's something wrong.

This is a STARBUCKS standard, and is FAR from an industry standard... especially in an industry without standards.
...you've just complicated what I already stated.

The only purpose of slamming it as quickly as possible is to "hide the unpleasantries."

If the espresso is indeed good, there should not be any unpleasantries to hide.

There are a whole lot of misconceptions about espresso, the concept of emulsification, and the nature of coffee oils.

For one thing, coffee oils are water soluble, and are not really oils at all. If it were not so, French Press would be pointless if one's reasoning is the fact that it does not filter out oils (that would not end up in the cup had the water not solved them).

While it is true that the crema will dissipate over time, it is not the only part of an espresso, and certainly not the best part if an honest expression of the coffee is the goal.

If you subscribe to the notion that espresso must taste a certain way, and must be blended to fit that flavor profile, then what I am saying may make little sense.

This is why I stressed the fact that espresso is only a brew method. Nothing more.
I agree. I was just talking to my manger today about how much I enjoyed sipping on shots 30-45 seconds after being served. It was great! Shots develop and espresso is fundamentally a brew method. Well put, Jason. When cupping, we see how our coffee tastes and how it develops throughout temperature and time.

Basically, I agree, the sooner the better, but definitely not 10 sec.
OK, so here's what I'm taking away here:

If your espresso is bad, toss it. (Not discussed here, but sort of a given. Maybe not?)

If you want to hide how bad your espresso really is, serve it right away and hope the customer slams it.

Even if your espresso is great, serve it right away so that the customer can enjoy the full experience, including crema if they desire.

Espresso does not die.

Taste your espresso to understand what happens to it as it ages, and also because espresso is just darn tasty. This approach is both quick and useful. AND can help you prove your newly discovered point to the previously mentioned all-knowing green-aproned customers, because they may not believe you right away (you must have missed that day in training?).

And Jason, I disagree... espresso IS alchemy. How else did those little gold flecks get in my crema? (Kidding, of course. Enjoyed your post.)
Great summary.

I need to keep you around.
Thanks!

(previous post deleted cause it was dumb and unrelated)
I don't think emulsification and hydrocolloids to be one and the same.

I was not referring to "flavors" in the coffee, I was referring to what are often called "coffee oils".

While I agree that there are both soluble and non-soluble components, I do not consider the "coffee oil" to be one of them.

Presser may change the nature of the way it is extracted, but it does not somehow make it more or less soluble.

I have read the Dr. John article in Roast magazine, more than once. I do not entirely agree with it, and I think it to be healthy practice to read with a critical mind.

There is a critical element in this discussion that is being left out. Gas. Combine the nature of CO2 with the "insoluble" chemicals, and suspend this gas in coffee "oils", and what do you get? Crema. The funny thing about it is that it's not the oil that's solving these insoluble aromatics. It's the Carbon Dioxide.

And yes, these aromatics will be lost as the colloidal bond fails, and the crema dissipates. Does this mean the shot is dead? Well, if you determine a shot to be its crema, and nothing more, then yes, it's dead.

If you consider that there are other parts to an espresso, then no, while part is missing, it is not "dead". It is, however, different.

I know that Dr. John considered espresso without crema to be non-espresso. And while I agree that this is true for immediately brewed espresso, I do not consider it to be true for espresso that has settled for a few minutes before consumption. Does the espresso become not-espresso as a result of this time?

Perhaps Dr. John would say yes. I disagree. There is no law or standard with authority to state either way, and I don't think that quoting work from other people is an adequate defense of an idea.

Perhaps it's my background in Philosophy.

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