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  #1  
Old 08-24-2003, 07:03 AM
Seven Seven is offline
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Espresso shots "bad" after 10 seconds

Starbucks has a policy that any pulled espresso still in the shot glass after 10 seconds (or perhaps 15) is deemed bad and dumped out.

I've not been able to get a clear answer from anyone at Starbucks on how the shot goes bad. The best I've gotten is the oils, water and coffee break apart into different layers. This makes the shot bitter.

But, wouldn't this happen after the shot is dumped into milk, water or whatever?

While I enjoy my shots as fresh as they want to give them to me, this sounds like marketing for the most part.

Is there a sound argument for this?
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  #2  
Old 08-24-2003, 07:11 AM
gluteus maximus gluteus maximus is offline
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Do you want cold or reheated espresso?
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  #3  
Old 08-24-2003, 07:14 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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No science, just anecdote: I've got an espresso maker at home, and I use high-grade Lavazzo coffee in it. The shots get cold (and therefore undrinkable) after about 10 seconds, but I've left one for well over an hour and reheated it in the microwave, and it was completely fine. Does Starbucks publicize this fact? If so, it could indeed be a marketing gimmick.
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  #4  
Old 08-24-2003, 09:30 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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When I go to a coffee bar, I usually get my espresso ten shots in a cup. It takes them more than ten seconds to get all of the shots in there, but it tastes fine to me.
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  #5  
Old 08-24-2003, 01:42 PM
occ occ is offline
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Marketing gimmick. Starbucks wouldn't leave the coffee there anyway (they make each shot to order, so why leave an unused shot hanging around by the machine?), and it makes them sound obsessed with freshness, so they capitalize on this. Fresh coffee is always a good selling point, and many places emphasize how often they brew new stuff (Tim Horton's, I believe, uses this as a major angle).

Also, assuming you don't just chug down a shot of espresso like a shot of booze, it takes you far longer than 10 seconds to drink the thing.
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  #6  
Old 08-24-2003, 02:31 PM
omni-not omni-not is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by occ
Marketing gimmick. Starbucks wouldn't leave the coffee there anyway (they make each shot to order, so why leave an unused shot hanging around by the machine?), and it makes them sound obsessed with freshness, so they capitalize on this. Fresh coffee is always a good selling point, and many places emphasize how often they brew new stuff (Tim Horton's, I believe, uses this as a major angle).

Also, assuming you don't just chug down a shot of espresso like a shot of booze, it takes you far longer than 10 seconds to drink the thing.

Good points, occ. I agree completely.
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  #7  
Old 08-24-2003, 03:12 PM
Dragonblink Dragonblink is offline
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The issue is not so much "leaving unused shots hanging around by the machine". When making several drinks at once, sometimes you brew shots and then for whatever reason it takes you more than ten seconds to use them (ran out of milk and had to steam more, had to get something from the back room, customer had a question or a last-minute change to their drink, etc.). It's not like you left the shots there just to hang out, but by the time you get to them they're cold.

If you brew a shot of espresso into a glass shotglass, you will see three layers -- the light foamy crema on top, the rich brown body, and the really dark bit at the bottom (the heart -- don't look at me, I didn't make up the names). If you let the shot sit there, not only will it get cold, but the look of the shot changes to an overall dull dark brown. I can't speak from experience as to how this changes the taste, as I don't drink straight shots.

The ten-shot (not a morning person, Johnny? ) is a bit of an exception, as it's not physically possible to brew ten shots and get them into a cup in ten seconds. Most Starbucks espresso machines have four brewing groups, capable of brewing eight shots at once. A good shot by Starbucks standards takes between 18 and 23 seconds to brew (trust me, there is a difference if the shot's short or long). Even if you can get all the shots to come out within ten seconds of each other, which isn't so hard on the newer push-button Verissimo machines but is highly unlikely on the older manual La Marzoccos, you still have to brew another pair of shots.

The ten second rule, as I recall, isn't so much ten seconds from brewing to the customer's hand, but ten seconds from brewing to going into the drink. If I'm making a venti (large) cappuccino, it takes me more than ten seconds to make it well, and the shot's the first thing to go in. But the steamed milk is keeping the shot warm, and the mixing destroys the whole layer thing.

I don't mind getting short or long shots, as long as they're not six-second bathwater or 90-second retreads, but I wouldn't want a drink made from a shot that's been sitting there for much longer than ten seconds.

-- Dragonblink, (ex)Barista extraordinaire
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  #8  
Old 08-24-2003, 03:37 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Quote:
The ten-shot (not a morning person, Johnny? ) is a bit of an exception
Actually, it's an evening drink. Morning is when I make espresso at home (two 14-ounce cups at a time).
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  #9  
Old 08-24-2003, 11:16 PM
Seven Seven is offline
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Dragonblink: It seems like you've been through the drill at Starbucks. This is pretty much what I've been hearing. But I have yet to have anyone tell me what ruins the shot just because it gets cold or the layers combine... what goes bad about it.

If the only thing happening to the shot after ten seconds is it getting cold and having the 3 layers combine, and it doesn't affect the taste, it sounds like it's mostly marketing then. A "we are the uber fresh coffee makers of the planet" sort of thing.

I've had Starbucks pull a triple espresso around 8pm. That espresso went into my fridge for the next morning when I had to get up very early -and I knew I'd be tired to operate my own espresso machine.

In the morning I'd nuke some milk and dump it into the espresso (now 8 hours old) and make a refried latte. It tastes almost like I just bought it from Starbucks. It's not bitter and it tastes fine. I can tell the difference, but I doubt many could.
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  #10  
Old 08-24-2003, 11:35 PM
Askance Askance is offline
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I can see that the crema might diminish some after 10 seconds, but as Startbucks are about to dump it in another container, it's dead anyway (and another coffee has been brutalised).

* shudder *
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  #11  
Old 08-24-2003, 11:36 PM
Dragonblink Dragonblink is offline
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It's not inherently bad ... just kinda like a flat soda. I don't mind drinking flat soda, but some people are grossed out by it. It does change the taste, but as I said I don't drink my shots straight so I couldn't tell you exactly how. Mixing in milk, however, probably makes the taste change much less noticeable -- like mixing orange juice with vodka makes it harder to tell if you used quality vodka or a cheap storebrand variety.

However, bartenders probably prefer to use non-crappy vodka in mixed drinks, and Starbucks tells its baristas not to let a shot sit more than ten seconds. This is not to say it never happens, of course.

-- Dragonblink, who is apparently the Queen of Analogy tonight.
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  #12  
Old 08-25-2003, 06:07 AM
j.c. j.c. is offline
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In Italy, they don't seem concerned about this.
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  #13  
Old 08-25-2003, 06:58 AM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is offline
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That's true about Italy.

They also don't do the 10-shot blast o'coffee in the morning. One cup of espresso, sipped slowly, and a pastry = breakfast.

I lived in Sicily, where the summers were pretty damned hot. Iced espresso was a godsend then. I got mine from a little bar at a gas station on the way to work.
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  #14  
Old 08-25-2003, 09:02 AM
Avumede Avumede is offline
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You sure about that Mr. Moto? I've never heard of Italian sipping espresso. In fact, since their espresso shots are half the size of ours, sipping is not even possible. It's a one-gulp operation.
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  #15  
Old 08-25-2003, 06:19 PM
Seven Seven is offline
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I still say it's marketing.

Just like at Starbucks how they dump their drip coffee out after 60 minutes because it's "gone bad". There are quick about telling customers about this. BUT.. they let their iced coffee (which was brewed that morning) sit in a pitcher on the counter all day long.
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  #16  
Old 08-26-2003, 01:25 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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I live in Chicago and I like a shot of esspresso in my coffee and I can tell you that the Starbucks here do hold shots off for more than 10 seconds. Many times I see them put the shot in my coffee and it is much more than 10 seconds after they made it. And it just isn't one Starbucks. They do it on the one on Irving Park by the Blue Line, The Three in the Magnificent Mile and the one on Michigan Avenue before the Chicago River bridge. And the one by Clark and Diversey. They don't always do it and until now I never noticed but I will have to see if it makes a difference.
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  #17  
Old 08-26-2003, 06:16 AM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is offline
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Well, the shots don't last long, being so small.

Italians in general linger over their food and beverages longer than Americans, in part because the food and beverages are so much better.
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  #18  
Old 08-27-2003, 01:51 AM
Dragonblink Dragonblink is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Seven
BUT.. they let their iced coffee (which was brewed that morning) sit in a pitcher on the counter all day long.
On the counter? Remind me never to go to any Starbuckses near you! It should be kept in the fridge and rebrewed throughout the day (ditto the iced tea).
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  #19  
Old 09-02-2003, 11:31 PM
Kid_Gilligan Kid_Gilligan is offline
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Honestly???

In a pinch, I've made a drink for myself with shots I've found laying around for heaven knows how long.

I would never give that to a customer. For Christ's sake, you're paying four bucks for that drink. We can afford to waste the espresso, believe me.

As for drawing the line at 10 seconds rather than 15 or 20? If you're getting something with loads of syrup, like a mocha, you won't know if the shots sat for slightly longer than 10 seconds. If you're a straight espresso drinker, never. In fact, I'm going to make sure your shots go into hot shot glasses rather than serve you cold espresso.

As for whether it is "marketing" or not, let me just say that the company is quite aware that if it a directive is BS, the average barista on the street will simply ignore it.

In fact, it is the partners who put up the most stink about quality. I have seen plenty of situations where a process was simplified, and the partners protested until they were convinced it would not affect drink quality.
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  #20  
Old 08-21-2011, 06:39 PM
Dry_Sharpie Dry_Sharpie is offline
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I know this is late, but I was searching on google when this thread came up.

Go to any Starbucks and ask them if you can try a good shot vs. a "dead shot". When you first start working there, they MAKE you try a good shot and a dead shot, as well as a drink made with them, just so you know the difference and are more discouraged to give customers dead shots. Though I don't like straight espresso, I will describe a dead shot as tasting like straight coffee grinds, it's disgusting. When a shot is pulled, it should be dispensed into 3 separate layers that you can see (from top to bottom): the crema (foam on top), body (should be mostly opaque, like coffee held to the light), and the heart (a dark bottom at the bottom curve of the shot glass). A "dead shot" looks completely black all the way through from top to bottom.

I'm not quite sure about the science behind it, but it isn't marketing because it's not something that they advertise. I think it's just for letting the shots sit there in the glass vs. being mixed. Granted there are people who just order espresso straight, and there isn't much one can do about that.

As for why they leave their teas sitting out, it's the ones used for cold drinks. It's kind of like why any store sells products ESPECIALLY for iced tea that you have to boil the water for anyways, it's made different and made to be kept at cooler temperatures. They do brew the teas in those pitchers with water just off of the boil, like you're supposed to, but they're special formulas or whatever made for their intended use. They do label EVERYTHING and products are only good for a certain amount of time, no exceptions.

Also, Starbucks makes their own whipped cream (8 pumps of vanilla syrup per canister and a grande cup of heavy whipping cream until about 1/4 - 1/3" from the top. Pressurize the canister and shake, then PRESTO!
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  #21  
Old 08-21-2011, 06:47 PM
Mosier Mosier is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
Actually, it's an evening drink. Morning is when I make espresso at home (two 14-ounce cups at a time).
How's that ulcer?
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  #22  
Old 08-21-2011, 07:26 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is offline
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If espresso shots go 'bad' in mere seconds, how is it even possible for people to drink espresso itself? (i.e. as espresso, not as the coffee element of a Latte or whatever)

Last edited by Mangetout; 08-21-2011 at 07:27 PM..
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  #23  
Old 08-21-2011, 07:46 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangetout View Post
If espresso shots go 'bad' in mere seconds, how is it even possible for people to drink espresso itself? (i.e. as espresso, not as the coffee element of a Latte or whatever)
Ten seconds seems like a bit of an exaggeration to me, but there is quite a flavor difference between an espresso that's just been pulled, and the same espresso two minutes or so later. I'm not sure what happens, but the crema breaks up and the espresso starts developing bitter qualities if you let it sit around for more than a minute or two. It's all anecdotal from me, but that was my experience when I worked at a coffeeshop. It has the quality of something that's deep fried--tastes wonderful within a couple minutes of being served, but let it sit around, and it just gets nasty.
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