Why do you drink water with espresso? We'll explain it to you!

It doesn't happen everywhere... not even in Italy. Nevertheless, we often get a glass of water with our espresso . Many drink it straight, many leave it. Some drink it before coffee and some after. Where does this custom come from? And is the water meant to be drunk? Before or after the espresso? So many questions... to which we have the answers.

Water for espresso – history

The history of water with espresso begins in Italian roasters . Even back then, roasters offered the opportunity to taste their blend on the spot. To ensure that consumers could fully enjoy their product, roasters used to serve a glass of water with espresso. The reason for this was that by drinking water, customers could free their palate of other aromas so as not to alter the taste of the coffee they were tasting. This way, you could better enjoy and appreciate the blend with all its typical aromatic notes. Today, this custom is not practiced everywhere. For example, in northern Italy, you don't get a glass of water with espresso everywhere. In the south, however, you can.

Water for espresso – before or after?

The answer to this question is simple: before! So first water and then espresso, and this is not a question of taste or preference. Water cleans the oral cavity. With the exception of the first coffee in the morning, provided we drink it on an empty stomach, we often enjoy coffee during the day after a meal or something similar. By adding a little water you remove any possible impurities that could affect your taste experience: you can then perceive all the aromas of the coffee, both in terms of taste and smell.

Water for espresso – never afterwards

Coffee, like many other edible and drinkable things, has an aftertaste. In short, if we were to wash down a glass of water immediately after the espresso, we would destroy this aftertaste. It can even be rude to the barista to drink the water immediately after the espresso. Because we usually rinse our mouths if something tasted unpleasantly bitter or burnt. The barista could therefore think that we did not like the espresso that was prepared at all.

Water for espresso – still or sparkling water?

One of the things you should know for optimal coffee enjoyment is that the water makes a difference: if you drink it before coffee, it must be still water . Carbonated water changes the way it is accessed on the palate. That means: it makes the coffee taste more bitter if it is bitter, or more sour if it is already tending towards sour. In short: sparkling water distorts the enjoyment of coffee.


Water for espresso – Myth 1

Of course, there are many other theories and myths floating around in the world about why a glass of water is served with espresso. Myth 1 in this case is that coffee removes water from the body, which is compensated for by the glass of water. That's not true. Coffee doesn't remove water, but is 98 percent water, and caffeine doesn't dehydrate us either, it just stimulates the metabolism.

Water for espresso – Myth 2

Here's another good myth: The glass of water makes the espresso easier on the stomach because it is prolonged there, but the full flavor remains when you drink it. The stomach contains stomach acid. A small espresso, especially if it is roasted carefully, does not harm the stomach at all and , according to many experts, is not responsible for many of the problems that people experience . Of the many ways of preparing coffee, making espresso with a portafilter machine is certainly one of the most gentle on the stomach. A good espresso inhibits the production of saliva and also the production of stomach acid - as long as it is drunk without sugar and without milk.


Water for espresso – Myth 3

The glass of water was created during or after World War II, when many American soldiers were still stationed in Italy . The soldiers were not used to the intense taste of espresso and so diluted it with a glass of water. This gave them a coffee that they were used to at home. This myth is only partially false. This is not how the tradition of drinking a glass of water with espresso came about, but rather how the specialty coffee Americano was created .

Water for espresso – cupping

So, when we enjoy an espresso at home or in a bar, we may be given a glass of water to rinse our mouths with beforehand. But it also happens - especially at a roastery - that we try a lot of coffees in a row. This is called cupping and is used to taste new coffees or to ensure the quality of existing coffees. Here, you taste 5, 6 or even 10 coffees in a row. Water in between is only appropriate to a limited extent. On the one hand, we would drink a lot of water if we took a sip between each coffee. On the other hand, it is often better to stick to the coffee product, as we also want to compare the coffees with each other. But even with cupping, you can take a sip of water in between to neutralize. Alternatively, a not too experimental coffee is suitable in this case to normalize the palate again. You can read exactly how cupping works here.


Water for espresso - Conclusion

Water and coffee are inseparably linked. Simply because coffee is made up of 98 percent water. Therefore, coffee is neither dehydrating nor bad for the stomach or anything else negative. Coffee is cool, tastes good and you should enjoy it. You should always drink a glass of water with your espresso - assuming you are served one - before the espresso to rinse your mouth and enjoy all the aromas of the espresso. However, drinking a glass of water before your coffee is not compulsory and is not a tradition everywhere: in northern Italy, for example, you don't always get water with your espresso, but in southern Italy you get it everywhere. In Germany, it usually depends on the barista or how it is handled in that café. The easiest thing to do is to try water with your espresso at home ... and then you'll know whether you like it better with or without. #staywild