When I first read this tweet, I had a little laugh:
'I reckon John West doesn't always insist on the best. I bet he often goes “fuck it, that'll do, it's only squashed fish in a fuckin' tin”'.
But then I started to think about the standards in the mass-produced food industry. Just because John West doesn’t necessarily insist on the best, he wouldn’t let a latte go out with a bit too much foam.
I don’t eat fish, but I do eat other mass produced food. And it does all look pretty much the same, and it does does all taste pretty much the same. However, I know that all the coffees I make don’t look the same, and I’m 99% certain they don’t all taste the same (dipping a cocktail straw in a cappuccino or espresso wouldn’t look that great, no matter how much I would LOVE to be able to do it - oh and I’d be fucked at the end of the day).
Every industry has an acceptable margin of error. We have about +/- 2 seconds, +/- 2g for anything in a demitasse. I know anything within that range will taste great, but I also know that two different coffees at the end of those margins will taste quite different. Certain individual flavours will present themselves more or less depending on the slightest change in time. I absolutely love and hate this about espresso. It really is the most exciting thing about it; it makes me really excited and so smiley. But it also is the aspect of my job which makes me want to walk out and re-train as a web-developer or bike mechanic more than any of the other problems we face every day. I think if espresso grinders were made properly, i.e. we could produce shots that have a much, much smaller margin of error without the constant, weigh-time-adjust-purge-weigh-time etc; understanding the taste potential within espresso would become much simpler. I know that I, for one, would be able to get to know a coffee much quicker. And as an industry we would be able to get to know espresso much quicker. We wouldn’t spend all our time fighting very expensive machines, but instead would focus on flavours, service, and thinking up quotes to write on blackboards…
And just imagine being able to draw a map of flavours and asking customers to choose which ones they would like to have at the front, tucked away at the back or sitting next to each other. That would be SO much fun.
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