I’m taking a break from espresso. I can’t remember the last time I ordered one at a cafe or attempted to make it. At home, my Rancilio Silvia with PID kit has been collecting dust for almost a year. There are simply too many variables: time, temperature, pressure, grind size, tamping uniformity, etc., which need to be re-adjusted continuously throughout the day as the environment changes. It’s not that I don’t like espresso, but it’s too temperamental a drink; it’s inconsistent, even for the best barista.
Espresso is a hobbyist’s drink: an oftentimes futile quest for perfection. The perfect shot is unlikely to be found at a high-volume store as the variables are too many and difficult to control. For me, 2012 was the year of drip coffee. Coffee shops started to take pride in their filter coffee instead of it being an afterthought to the espresso machine. Some shops, mostly in the United States, are regularly calibrating their extraction with a refractometer.