This is a short series of blog entries on how living in Italy many years ago converted me from a coffee snob to an espresso snob.
I had always enjoyed my coffee at home black (well not always – when I first started drinking it I added so much sugar and milk that it was not clear that there was any coffee content, but I was shamed into stopping adding things when one of my teachers saw me add the sugar and laughed so I went cold turkey), but I was not ready to drink espresso straight back then.
One of the main reasons for that was that I had never had good espresso before and bad espresso needs to be hidden in milk and sugar. Another reason is that it is such a powerful taste that it is just a bit much to jump into from the start.
The path from there, however, was a bit predictable. I just slowly stated drinking drinks with less and less milk. I started with a latte, but quickly realized that I liked a cappuccino better. I might have stayed at that level forever if I had not realized I would be leaving Italy and I should learn as much as possible about the way espresso should taste before leaving. As a result I started drinking macchiattos. These are much smaller milk drinks where for the first time you have more coffee than milk in the drink. I quickly realized I loved them, but extended my analogy about learning about coffee and decided to drink straight espresso and started drinking straight shots of espresso. To my surprise I really liked them as much as the milk drinks. I did not realize that eventually I would like them quite a bit more than the milk drinks, but it is true. I also still did not realize that I was well on my way to preferring espresso to brewed coffee!