Elevating My Understanding of Coffee Experience : 1st Lesson – Espresso @ Starbucks


I know my previous post about Coffee and Health seems to discourage coffee-drinking, but let me state here, again, – I am a coffee-lover.  I drink coffee almost every day.  And just like bungee-jumping, eating ice cream, driving, and almost everything else in this world, they all have their dangers.

The key is for us to be informed and to know the limits and the rules to follow.

So I hope that post would help coffee drinkers to be sort of aninformed group of coffee drinkers.

Of course there are also all sorts of benefits of drinking coffee, which I‘m sure many coffee drinkers know.   Let’s face it, even without the ‘alleged’ benefits and with all the dangers, most of us will still choose to drink coffee over tea.

Even the traditionally tea-drinking people of the United Kingdom are increasingly turning to coffee as their daily beverage.

My Coffee Experience

Anyway, as a coffee drinker, I have honestly never been choosy.  I drink all sorts of coffee.  I don’t snub at any brand, coffee maker or coffee menu.  I think they are all special in their own way.  But after almost 4 decades of coffee-drinking, I believe it is time for me to elevate and understand my coffee experience.

There are so many ways to enjoy coffee and so many types of coffee to enjoy today, it is high time for me to discover why I prefer this beverage over all others.

In pursuing my coffee education, I have decided to use this guide as my ‘Introduction to Coffee’ course outline:

you and coffee
Pic credit to: thedoghousediaries.com

If I’m to believe the above quips (which I think is pretty accurate), it seems that all this while, I have been drinking ice cream at Starbucks – all those delicious frappuccinos!

Well, that and Americano and Latte of course.

Before that, please be informed that this post is not sponsored by Starbucks or any coffee company. 

I am not affiliated to any coffee company.  But due to their strategic locations, although there are many coffee outlets in KK, my main choice is Starbucks outlets (conveniently located at shopping centres with ample parking space), Santola (near to the kids’ school), Dome (near to Starbucks) and Coffee Bean (though not as convenient, save for the one at CPS).

I also like Tenom Coffee outlets, but they seem to be dwindling.

Ordering Espresso

So today, following the above ‘course outline’ I ordered a shot of espresso at Starbucks.  Actually, I pointed at the ‘Espresso’ shown on the menu board. 

According to the Starbucks website, there is such a thing.

But looking at the image (left), I suspect it’s probably laden with milk and whatever, so that shouldn’t be the one to try, I supposed.  The barista thought I wanted ‘iced’ espresso.  Well, wouldn’t that be nice?  But I held my ground and said I wanted the one without any milk and sugar.

I wish I could see my own expression.  It must have been harder for me to bear than for the barista to hear.

Seeing the curious look on the face of the barista, I almost changed my mind and skipped this part of the lesson.  She gently asked whether I wanted Americano

Boy, I was really tempted to change my order.  But I stoicly declined, and insisted that I wanted to try the espresso.  Cheerfully, she showed me the single ‘shot’ – a very small glass of coffee (about 1 ½ inch tall which I could gulp in a second) and explained to me the taste and suggested that I take it with brown sugar.

I’ve seen that glass before and seen customers ask for one sometimes, but have never bothered to give it a shot.

Anyway, the kind barista graciously let me have 2 glasses of espresso (a double espresso), and seeing the miniscule amount of coffee in my cup, I was actually tempted to asked for a triple, but feared the possible repercussions as stated in the poster (I don’t want to be awake forever today).

Espresso Beverages
Pic credit: starbucks.com.my

Starbucks Espresso Beans

A bit of trivia first. According to the Starbucks Malaysia website, Starbucks espresso beans are ethically sourced and 100% Fairtrade.  The Starbucks espresso ‘always starts with the highest-quality Arabica beans perfectly roasted’ to Starbucks’ specifications.

They’ve been developing their Espresso Roast for more than 30 years and still continue to perfect the roasting and blending to ensure that their espresso delivers ‘a caramelly sweetness, soft acidity, and depth’.

To keep that flavour, they freshly grind beans for each shot.

Arabica, robusta – I’m not ready to venture into that subject yet.  But I enjoy the smell of the Arabica beans.

Caramelly sweetness, soft acidity, and depth’ is another matter.  Emmm…. There was ‘depth’ alright.  ‘Soft acidity’ ? Maybe.  ‘Caramelly sweetness’?

I beg to differ, with all due respect.

There’s definitely nothing sweet about that stuff.

Bitter like nothing I’ve ever tasted – not even the famous pink coloured ‘baby-faced’ powder (Chinese ) herbal medication that some of us have suffered during our childhood fever moments.

Maybe it’s my Frappuccino sense of taste, I’m too sugar-laden to detect even a speck of sweetness in the espresso.

Maybe I should have ordered the Espresso Con Panna or the Espresso Machiato. 😀

But that would defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it? 

It’s like learning to calculate 3x + 3y before knowing what 3 + 3 is.

After a sip, I stopped.  Let me tell you how I suffered!  The thought of taking another sip seemed like a crazy endeavour.  I began to question my sanity – can people really enjoy drinking kopi kaw-kaw (thick plain coffee) without any sugar?

I remember, not so long ago, almost 2 decades ago actually, I used to gulp such coffee (2 or 3 teaspoon of coffee granules mixed with a cup of hot water), without sugar or milk, during exam week.

It was considered an ‘emergency’ exam tonic.

But that was nothing compared to this espresso.

Half an hour later, I bravely (more like thirstily) took another sip of the cold espresso in the cup. 

I must say, the bitterness seemed to have lessen, and I can actually tolerate it!

Another 5 minutes passed and I took another sip, and tried to savour the taste.  Still no sweetness, but I can appreciate the depth.  Maybe I’m missing something here?

Anybody have any idea where have the sweetness gone to?

When I put the cup to my mouth a few moments later, I’m surprised to discover it empty.  I have actually managed to sip all the double espresso! 

Would I try it again?

Maybe when I need an emergency tonic.

I refrain myself from drinking any other coffee afterwards – I want to see its effects on me throughout the day.

Let’s hope I can sleep well tonight. 😉

UPDATED: Read Coffee Without Sugar!

–  Elevating My Understanding of Coffee Experience : 1st Lesson – Espresso @ Starbucks

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