As I understand it the ice shocks the espresso and sours it. At B Java we will put into cool water first to give it a gentle change. Every customer that says they like espresso over ice has agreed that they prefer our drink but that could also be our blend and pull.
Ditto to andy's reply, we will either pull over some cool water and then tranfer to the ice, think about an equal part water to espresso as a base, but you can deffinitely use more when doing larger americanos. I deffinitely think water temperature can have a very detrimental effect on espresso, straight over ice hightens the perception of sours as well as making it more harsh and quite ashy.
I experimented with this a bit earlier this summer when this discussion went around. I made two of our iced americanos, pouring one over ice before topping with water and the other into cool water before adding ice. Despite KNOWING that the ice would "shock" and ruin the espresso, I was unable to tell the two drinks apart. I'd suggest that you do this yourself and see if it makes a difference to you. I would use cool water though, not hot.
I just finished experimenting with both methods.
Directly over the ice tastes stronger/sharper. But I imagine that's because the other one is slightly diluted by water (about an ounce).
I like it better over the ice, and I tell my customers that one of the nice things about iced espresso are the smokey or earthy flavor and aroma that you get. Probably what Chris means by "ashy".
What is meant by "shocking" the espresso? Why is the term "shock" used, and how do you figgure it ruins the espresso?
One of the first things we would do with new hires is exactly this. We would pull two shots of espresso, one over a large ice cube and one regular. The new hire would have to drink both. Nobody ever liked the iced one. Nobody ever poured a shot over ice. It's a rule.
This is one of those few topics that I don't know much about, but am nonetheless adamant about. The only exception is in a Caffe Shakerato, where the espresso is quickly tossed into a shaker and rapidly brought down to temperature. I really don't know WHY this works, but it works.
I think maybe some espresso blends fare better over ice than others. A really sharp one would have to be undrinkable over ice.
I do agree though - a shot over ice doesn't taste nearly as good as a hot, fresh one.
What I guess I'm saying is that, if there is some damage being done to the shot, I'd think it would be irreversible. If that were true, a drink made with this shot taste different than a drink made to the same proportion but cooled gently. This doesn't seem to be the case. I still say that the ice-water-espresso sequence doesn't matter much when making an iced americano.
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