Can You Drink Espresso Straight? Myth Debunked


Italy is undoubtedly the spiritual home of coffee; after all, they gave us the vocabulary- Espresso, latte, cappuccino; and its coffee culture has many rules and rituals surrounding the correct way to drink coffee, particularly espresso.

You can drink espresso straight, especially if you want a quick rush of caffeine. However, you may find that a double shot is too much to drink in one go; in that case, a single shot is best. The general rule about drinking espresso is to take a few quick sips to enjoy the flavor’s nuances.

There are many ways to drink espresso well; you don’t have to drink espresso on its own. Instead, you can drink espresso in various ways – with milk, sparkling water, sugar, and even a little martini.

How To Drink Espresso Like An Italian

Italians take their espresso drinking very seriously, and they understand that there is a right and wrong way to drink espresso. 

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Therefore, for an authentic experience, you must tap into the Italian espresso culture and drink the way they drink espresso. 

The best way to begin trying different techniques is by cleansing your palate with water before each shot. 

For example, many baristas in Italy serve a small bottle of sparkling water with espresso, which helps to taste different flavors in your shot.

Espresso purists would never serve espresso with anything other than perhaps water, sugar, milk, or alcohol, but generally, they prefer their espresso without any accompaniment. 

There is a current trend to serve espresso with lemon peel, which is fine, and you may enjoy that pop of citrus, but it isn’t customary in Italy. Instead, consider the following ways to drink espresso like an Italian:

1. Smell The Espresso

Put your nose to the cup and inhale the scents with a log draw as the aroma is essential for the flavor.

2. Skim The Crema And Stir

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Crema looks beautiful in the cup when it’s done correctly, but, truthfully, it doesn’t taste so great. 

You can skim off the crema and discard or stir the espresso a little to blend in the thicker parts of the shot with the lighter notes. 

If you want to taste the crema, that’s fine too, and it gives you an idea of how it should taste.

3. Consider Your Drinking Method

The flavor of espresso can deteriorate as quickly as 15 seconds of extraction, so it may be beneficial to drink the shot in one or two goes to allow you to taste the flavor changes. 

Before taking sips, you should test the temperature and feel free to sip the crema or the crema mixture before drinking the rest of the shot.

4. Take Sips

Taking sips without stirring allows you to experience the changing flavor nuances in your espresso; however, you will get a more consistent flavor if you stir before sipping. 

If you plan to take a few sips, stir between sips for a unique balance of top and bottom layers.

5. Add sugar

Most espresso fans would recoil at the idea of adding any ingredient to their espresso. 

However, if you’re new to Espresso or your Espresso is of lower quality, feel free to add a small amount of sugar to sweeten the drink.

6. Mix With Alcohol

Ok, so it may not be strictly Italian to mix alcohol with espresso. European bars don’t have the same cocktail culture as in the United States, but drinking espresso martinis outdoors in Italy and Europe is steadily growing. 

In some parts of Italy, they drink a type of espresso called a corretto, which translates to “corrected, ” in English, with a little grappa.

7. Add A Sip Of Milk

Some Italians enjoy their espresso with a bit of milk, and this is called a macchiato. 

However, a macchiato in Italy isn’t the same as a macchiato in Starbucks, as the word translates to “stained,” only calling for a “stain” or “dash” of milk.

How Is Espresso Served?

In Italy, Espresso is frequently enjoyed as it is straight out of the machine, and the shots are served in special espresso cups called demitasse cups. You can order a one-shot as a quick pick-me-up or a double shot. 

In fact, some coffee shops do double shots known as doppio. You can have a long or _lungo _espresso, which often involves the same shot of coffee but with twice the amount of water. 

There is also Liscio ( a regular espresso shot ) and ristretto (little water and caffeine). 

You can have your espresso with a drop of milk, which is called a macchiato, and of course, there is cappuccino, but only before lunch.

Is Drinking Straight Espresso Bad For You?

Drinking espresso very fast in one gulp is not the best way to drink espresso, especially if you frequently drink it in that manner. 

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However, as the drink is made expressly for you, you must also drink it very quickly. In addition, espresso should be drunk while the crema is still on top as it acts as a covering, keeping in all the oils and the aromas.

As the quantity of espresso is small, it is best to take it in sip by sip to get all the flavors, rather than drinking it in one gulp. 

An espresso shot can sit for no more than 15 seconds before it goes bad. After that time, the body, heart, and crema blend together to create a black mess.

As your espresso sits, some significant chemical reactions occur. All of the lipids and oils that lend coffee its rich body and intense aftertaste will oxidize. 

Also, Chlorogenic acids will continue to degrade into metallic quinic acids, which taste bitter. 

A great espresso can hide this reaction behind its body and heat as it cools, but a lousy espresso can’t hide. Either way, there is a threshold for time and flavor.

You may have heard of a dead espresso; this is when the foam dissolves back into the espresso, leaving some residue on the sides of the cup; this process takes about a minute. 

However, the drink will truly taste ‘dead,’ you will notice a significant change to the flavor. It will also taste burned and hardly palatable. Therefore, it is essential to take considerate, albeit quick, sips of your espresso.

How Long Do Espresso Shots Last In The Body?

Caffeine is a stimulant that promotes alertness, but it is an “adenosine receptor antagonist,” to put it in technical terms. 

Adenosine promotes sleepiness; however, caffeine blocks its receptor to prevent you from feeling sleepy. 

Caffeine affects your body very quickly and is at peak level within 30 to 60 minutes. Your body begins eliminating half the caffeine in your body after 5 hours; the rest of the caffeine stays in your body for much longer.

Caffeine has both positive and negative on your body, depending on the amount you consume. If you consume caffeine in moderation, it effectively keeps you alert – it works best when you take it intermittently.

However, when you consume caffeine every day, it becomes a less effective stimulant because your body is tolerant of the substance.

One of the first adverse effects of caffeine that you are likely to experience is disrupted sleep; it can also delay the timing of your internal body clock. 

Caffeine can also hinder the amount of deep sleep that you can have. You may not be aware that drinking coffee even six hours before bedtime can reduce your total amount of sleep by one hour.

High doses of caffeine produce the following side effects:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Increased respiration
  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle tremors

Withdrawal symptoms may also occur when you stop consuming caffeine after using it for an extended period. These symptoms include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Low energy levels

It is beneficial to reduce your caffeine intake to no more than 400mg per day, which equals about three to four cups of coffee. Pregnant and nursing mothers should avoid or consume less caffeine. 

In addition, if you have high blood pressure or heart problems, it is best to avoid high caffeine levels if you have heart complications or high blood pressure.

Final Thoughts

You can drink espresso; however, you enjoy it, whether you like it straight or another way. There are better ways to drink espresso, and it is helpful to consider those. 

Italians know their coffee; quality is everything. The barista can only do their best to make and serve your brew, but how you choose to drink can also affect the quality and enjoyment of your drink.

It’s best to taste your espresso in different ways, especially if you are new to it; try drinking it without stirring at first. Then stir lightly between sips to get different tastes each time. 

For a more consistent flavor, stir only once to mix the crema with the lighter notes. Remember to cleanse your palate with water so that you get only the purest flavor of espresso.

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