Why is Espresso Served with Water?
Living in LA and visiting numerous coffee shops and cafes, it's not uncommon to be served sparkling mineral water with an espresso shot. (My favorite is Topo Chico). Even outside LA, many places serve espresso with a small amount of water on the side.
This article will explore the reasons and discuss some familiar and not-so-common variations of the water on the side.
The Short Answer
Palate cleansing: The small amount of water can cleanse the palate. Cleansing the palate will prepare the taste buds for a sip of espresso.
Hydration: Espresso can be intense and leave the mouth feeling dry. The water can help to hydrate the mouth and make it easier to drink the espresso. Furthermore, espresso contains caffeine, a known diuretic. Diuretics can cause the body to lose more fluids than it takes in. Serving water with espresso helps balance the caffeine's diuretic effect and prevents dehydration.
Customization: Some people prefer to dilute their espresso with a small amount of water to adjust the strength or flavor to their liking.
Why do some coffee shops serve espresso with sparkling water?
Some coffee shops serve sparkling water with their espresso. Sparkling or carbonated water has a fizzy, bubbly texture and a slightly tangy taste.
Sparkling water has all the benefits of still water when paired with espresso. It is a palate cleanser, a source of hydration, and a counterbalance to caffeine. It can also be added to the drink as needed.
Due to the carbonation, sparkling water may provide an even more refreshing and stimulating effect.
It can be a fun and exciting change of pace from regular still water. It can add some variety and excitement to the coffee-drinking experience.
As for customization, Some people may prefer the taste of sparkling water to still water and may choose to use it to dilute their espresso.
Having still or sparkling water with espresso is a personal preference. Both can be effective at cleansing the palate and helping to hydrate the mouth. You can use both to customize the strength and flavor of the espresso. It's up to the individual coffee shop and the preferences of their customers to decide which option to offer.
What is Palate Cleansing?
The idea of palate cleansing is that a small amount of water can refresh the taste buds and prepare you for the next sip of espresso. When you drink a strong and flavorful drink like espresso, it can coat the taste buds and obscure some of their sensitivity. The lack of taste perception can make it difficult to appreciate the flavors and nuances of the espresso fully.
Taking a small sip of water between sips of espresso can help wash away some of the residue left on your taste buds and reset your palate. A reset palate can allow you to appreciate the notes and characteristics of the espresso and enjoy it more fully. Palate cleansing is typical in many types of cuisine, particularly with bold flavors. It can be beneficial when trying to appreciate the flavors of high-quality espresso.
Espresso, Water, and Hydration
Espresso is a potent and concentrated form of coffee. The coffee's high acidity and caffeine content can cause the mouth to produce less saliva, leaving it feeling dry and uncomfortable.
Serving water with espresso can help to alleviate this dryness and provide some hydration for the mouth. The water can help balance the espresso's drying effects and make it more comfortable to drink.
Additionally, the water can help rinse any leftover coffee grounds or residue left on the tongue or teeth. Sipping the water can freshen the mouth and make it feel more comfortable. Overall, serving water with espresso can improve the drinking experience and make it more enjoyable.
Effects of Caffeine
As I mentioned, caffeine is a diuretic, which can cause the body to lose more fluids than it takes in. It can be particularly problematic if you're drinking a lot of caffeine and need to replace those fluids through other means.
Serving water with espresso can help balance the caffeine's diuretic effect and prevent dehydration. By providing an additional source of hydration, the water can compensate for the fluids lost. Water will help to ensure that the body is adequately hydrated.
It's worth noting that drinking plenty of water throughout the day is still essential. While the water served with the espresso can help to offset some of the diuretic effects of the caffeine, it's not a replacement for proper hydration. Drinking water throughout the day is always a good idea to avoid dehydration and maintain health.
One of the nice things about serving water with espresso is that it allows people to customize the strength and flavor of the drink to their liking. Some people prefer a more potent, concentrated espresso, while others prefer a more dilute, mild flavor. By providing a small carafe or glass of water on the side, people can adjust the strength of their espresso to suit their preferences.
Someone who prefers a milder flavor can add a small amount of water to their espresso to dilute it. Dilution can help to mellow out the flavors and make the espresso more approachable. On the other hand, if someone prefers a more robust, intense flavor, they can drink the espresso without adding any water.
Serving water with espresso allows people to customize the drink to their liking and tailor it to their personal preferences.
Should you drink the water before, during, or after an espresso shot?
There are no rules about when to drink the water served with an espresso. It is generally a matter of personal preference. It depends on your preferences and the specific context in which you consume the espresso.
Here are a few explanations for when to drink the water served with an espresso shot:
Some people like to drink a small sip of water before the espresso. Drinking water prior can prepare the taste buds for the espresso's full-bodied flavor.
Others may prefer to drink small sips of water as they drink espresso. Drinking water between sips can refresh the palate and provide some hydration for the mouth, making each gulp of coffee feel like the first one.
Some people may prefer to drink the water after finishing the espresso shot. Drinking water last helps rinse any remaining coffee grounds or residue from the mouth.
Choosing when to drink the water served with an espresso is a personal preference. There is no right way. You can choose your best option. Sometimes I do all 3.
Do the minerals in the water have an impact as well?
Yes, the minerals in the water can impact the espresso flavor. Water that is high in minerals, such as hard water, can give the espresso a more distinct and pronounced flavor. The minerals in the water can react with the coffee and affect its taste.
Hard water can make the espresso taste more acidic and metallic. In contrast, softer water may produce a smoother, more balanced flavor. The minerals in the water can also affect the texture of the espresso, with hard water potentially producing a thicker, more velvety crema.
The impact of the minerals in the water on the espresso flavor is generally rather subtle. It may be noticeable to only some people. The type of coffee beans used, roast level, and brewing method are more significant factors in determining the espresso flavor.
The minerals in the water can have a minor influence on the espresso's flavor and texture but are not a significant factor in most cases.
Go Get Em Tiger Fizzy Hoppy Tea
The coffee roasting company, Go Get 'Em Tiger (GGET), uses a hop flower sparkling tea.
It's unusual to see sparkling tea as a side to espresso. The hop flower tea adds a unique and exciting twist to the coffee-drinking experience.
Hops are flowering plants often used in the production of beer, where they contribute a bitter and aromatic flavor. The sparkling hop flower tea has a slightly bitter and floral taste.
Sparkling hop flower tea is used similarly to regular or sparkling water as a side to espresso.
Because the use of hop flower tea as a side to espresso is somewhat unconventional, it may be an acquired taste. I enjoy the unique and refreshing flavor of the GGET hop flower tea. It complements the espresso while cleansing the palate. Others may prefer a more traditional option like still or sparkling water. GGET offers a creative and innovative way to add variety and interest to the espresso-drinking experience.
We just explored why people serve espresso with water.
We saw why serving water with espresso is common for several practical reasons. It can help to cleanse the palate, hydrate the mouth, balance out the caffeine, and allow for customization of the drink. Whether you prefer still water, sparkling water, or something more unusual like hop flower tea, the choice of water is a matter of personal preference.
Do you drink water with your espresso? If so, do you drink still or sparkling water?
Have you had the Fizzy Hoppy Tea at GGET?