A stirring performance (with apologies to EricBNC for stepping on his punning toes with the thread title)
I have known for a long time that many high profile baristas recommend stirring your espresso. James Hoffman, who is probably about as famous as it gets in the barista world and is a world champion is one of those who recommends doing so. Why I ask myself then has it taken me until today to try stirring my espresso? I guess the answer is that it is so good when you do not stir it.
I pulled a double shot of Vivace Vita today and split the shot. It was pulled into two identical cups and the shots looked just about as close as you could hope when you looked at them. I then stirred one of them. I used a $256.00 cupping spoon to so just to make sure that it was done perfectly – well, I used a $2.56 metal spoon we fed our kids with when they were babies to stir so close enough.
The differences were truly striking on the first sip. I think the unstirred espresso was a little harsher and a tiny bit bitter. I should point out that I have not dialed in the espresso yet. I pulled one shot to get myself in the ballpark first and then this shot, which was not far off, but not quite a perfect shot in either cup.
On the other hand although the unstirred one was not quite as good at the first sip the comparison changed as the drinks went on. The stirred one was different in the sense that it was fairly uniform. Usually shots change as you drink them and this one did not. I think it would have if I let the temperature drop by letting it sit for a while the profile even in the stirred one would, of course, have changed.
Now the catch is that the unstirred one got better and better as I drank it until the last drop was no longer harsh, but instead syrupy and delicious. In the end I preferred this shot because although it was not a great shot, it reached a greater height at its best.
I don’t have a definitive conclusion in stir vs not stir, but it is well worth exploring!