We first wrote this article in April 2017. We’ve had more customers ask the same question lately, so we’ve updated and republished.
Stir & Enjoy!
This is a great question, but before we get to that, I need to explain what is actually in an espresso for us to appreciate why it’s good to stir. Espresso brewed coffee contains three major parts.
Part 1. The crema
The crema is made of the natural CO2 gases of the coffee that were developed during roasting. The crema is an important part of an extraction and adds a delightful creamy texture to the body of the coffee. However, the crema can also contain the most potent and intense flavours of the coffee as it is a concentrated element of the malic, quinic, chlorogenic, phosphoric, acetic and citric acids contained in every cup of coffee. How’s that for a coffee nerd-out! All that to say the crema can be harsh at times.
Part 2. The oil
When light reflects off your black coffee on a certain angle you will notice a slight oil slick across the top. This is known as the oil which is actually the natural sugars manifesting in the coffee. It is understood by food scientists that sugar molecules break down at 190 degrees celsius in roasted coffee, thus helping the natural sugars to caramelise. When coffee is roasted correctly there should be an inherent sweetness to it. This is why you should not have to add sugar to a correctly roasted and brewed espresso. On that note, I’d like to encourage people who add sugar to their coffee to try and reduce or remove sugar from their espresso. Added sugar masks a lot of the flavour in the cup and you will miss out on some of the finer flavours on offer.
Part 3. The coffee solids
The third and last element in an espresso are the soluble coffee solids which are the coffee grounds. The grounds are extracted into the brewed coffee liquid and much of the coffee’s flavour is drawn from the cell structure of the grounds.
Ok, so now you understand the three elements of what’s in your espresso,, which is a great platform to understand why stirring is the way to go.
How stirring enhances the flavour
1. More balance and full flavour
After coffee is brewed it begins to settle and form a head, similar to a glass of Guinness. The coffee starts to separate in the cup and stirring recombines all the essential elements and therefore creates a more balanced and full flavoured experience.
2. Reduce the temperature, enhance the flavour
Stirring also reduces the temperature of the beverage, which further enhances the flavour. Just like a white wine from the fridge that tastes better as it warms up, coffee tastes better when it cools down. Espresso is brewed at 93-95 degrees and stirring helps cool the beverage down to a temperature that allows you to better discern the beautiful flavours in the cup.
3. Release the delicate aromas
Lastly, our sense of smell and taste are closely aligned and strongly influence each other. Aroma is such an influential part of an espresso flavour and stirring releases the gases and delicate aromatics giving you an amazing experience before taking your first sip. A beautiful aroma lays the perfect platform for tasting espresso.
And this is why we reckon you should stir your espresso.
Stir and enjoy!