Expert Interview Series: David C. Schomer About Espresso as a Culinary Art

Have you ever had the perfect espresso? Want to learn how to make it? Since other food items are referred to as culinary arts, David C. Schomer, Founder and CEO at Espresso Vivace Inc., says espresso qualifies as a...

Have you ever had the perfect espresso? Want to learn how to make it?

Since other food items are referred to as culinary arts, David C. Schomer, Founder and CEO at Espresso Vivace Inc., says espresso qualifies as a culinary art too.

Cilantro recently spoke with David to learn how.

For someone who has prepared espresso before but wants to take their skill set to the next level, what espresso techniques would you recommend they try?

1. Verify right away that your coffee is fresh - i.e., roasted less than ten days prior to use.

2. Replace dull grinder burrs. Flat burrs usually need replacing after 500 pounds have been ground.

3. Completely clean your machine with espresso detergent.

4. Grind by the cup and adjust your grind to achieve less than one ounce of cream in 25 to 28 seconds. Timing starts when the pump is turned on for the shot.

5. Perform several tastings daily. Over a period of weeks, you will learn what tastes best.

6. Please yourself and follow your own preferences. Never let anyone tell you what you like. While I prefer sweet espresso roasts that develop the origin flavors of the beans in the blend and maximize the caramelized sugars (the Northern Italian tradition), some might prefer bitterer, darker roasts (like those found in Naples and Southern Italy). Also, some folks like bright acidity in their espresso, but if the roast is too light and citric acid overwhelms the origin flavors and sugars, the roast is defective. The same applies if it is so dark that the bitter carbon replaces sugars and origin notes.

7. Learn to measure brewing water temperature and set yours for about 203 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level.

For more tips, you can reference the archives portion of our website at Espresso Vivace.

In what ways may espresso be viewed as a culinary art?

Espresso is a culinary art because it allows you to enjoy the full fragrance potential of roasted coffee. Saturation methods such as pour-over (drip coffee), or French Press can only offer a crude approximation of the roast's actual aroma. However, preserving the fragrance in the cup requires expertise and the highest-quality, temperature-stable machines. Also, we have our own beautiful presentation which utilizes free-poured latte art when enjoyed with milk; and personally I find great beauty in the pure extraction also. Once you achieve a truly exceptional caffe espresso, you can explore the world through it.

How is that?

Each region has unique characteristics that it will impart to the roasted coffee. For example, Ethiopian Harrar is recognizable for a dark chocolate umami with blueberry notes, while Brazilian coffees generally have hoppy notes. Each farm is a little different, and each annual crop from the same farm may be unique as well, depending on the total sunlight and when precipitation occurs. Complexity exists in the crop selection and processing, the roasting, and the barista's craft, artistry, knowledge exhibited by the barista.

What kitchen tools/utensils are necessary for these techniques?

Breville of Australia has come out with a stable home machine called the Dual Boiler for about $1300. Coupled with their conical grinder, you will have a wonderful espresso system for a few shots per day in a restaurant or at home. For high volume, you could chose Nuova Simanelli's T3 machine coming in at about $20,000, and couple that with their Mythos grinders.

Once you have the equipment, you will also need a steam pitcher, foam knife, tamper, and many other accessories unique to espresso.

Call Espresso Vivace at 206-860-5869

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