Ranging from time to temperature to roast to dose, the outcome of an espresso drink differs with every variable that goes into a single shot. Add milk, and the combinations multiply.
Cappuccinos, macchiatos, cortados or Americanos, all of these are espresso-based beverages, and daily consumption of them has nearly tripled since 2008, according to the National Coffee Association’s 2016 NCA National Coffee Drinking Trends (NCDT) report, released on March 19.
The age group often referred to as Millennials are driving the increased consumption, according to the NCA’s 2016 report. Between 2008 and 2016, consumption of espresso-based beverages has increased from 9 to 22 percent for those ages 18-24 and 8 to 29 percent for those ages 25-39.
Coffee shops are rapidly growing in the restaurant industry, too, even though the percentage of Americans who regularly drink coffee hasn’t changed much since 1999, according to a Gallup poll from 2015.
So, with 64 percent of U.S. adults reportedly drinking at least one cup of coffee on an average day, remarkably similar to figures throughout the past decades, millennial tastes are contributing to a pivoting market.
In Gainesville, the factors all make sense. With a significant amount of 18-39 year olds making up the city’s population, espresso-based beverages can be found in any and every iteration. A new coffeehouse or two pops up every year.
“Consumption trends and generational patterns seem to be syncing up in promising ways,” said Bill Murray, NCA president and CEO, in a press release from the NCA. “As younger consumers enter the category in larger numbers, their tastes are supporting broader trends in consumer behavior.”
Here’s a breakdown of several local coffeehouses, each with their own spin on caffeinated classics and coffee shop culture. Find the one that best suits you.
Located at 48 SW 2nd St, Gainesville, Florida.
Most popular drink: (though it depends on the day) a cappuccino.
“I talk to a lot of cafe owners around the country, and one of the things that’s unique about Volta is we’re very much an espresso-centric shop,” said Anthony Rue, owner of Volta Coffee, Tea and Chocolate.
The coffee shop, which has been open since 2008, is a place where the barista calls out your name when your drink is ready and they most likely already know your order when you walk in the door.
On a Tuesday evening, barista Alexandra Wright starts pointing to each of the couple dozen customers, naming all but two. She also knows what they are drinking.
“I know what everyone wants,” Wright said. “It usually takes three times.”
Wright echoes the espresso-based trends in her list of favorite drink to consume, an espresso, and her favorite drink to make, a latte.
“We do more straight shots of espresso or macchiatos than pretty much, in terms of volume, than pretty much any other shop in the country,” Rue said. “Because even a higher-volume shop, in a big place like New York City, might do many times more lattes than we do, but we’ll do more cappuccinos, espressos and macchiatos than even they will do. So, we have to be really good with espresso.”
Rue calls the cappuccino his yardstick for measuring the skill of a barista, as there is little room to hide with a shot of espresso and minimal milk. He said it is a drink that shows you immediately how good a shop is.
“I really, really love our cappuccinos,” Rue said. “With a cappuccino it’s small enough that you can really, clearly taste the coffee and yet it also really tests the barista’s skill with the milk.”
Located at 1226 W University Ave, Gainesville, Florida.
Most popular drink: the signature latte.
“I came in here once and wanted to work here,” Hannah Ulloa, a barista at Know Where Coffee, said. “The thing that got me hooked was our cold brew.”
Hannah Ulloa started working at Know Where Coffee less than six months after it’s opening in March 2015. She was struck by the care and consideration of the drinks, and found it to be a very relaxed, study-friendly place to be, despite the surrounding buzz of caffeine.
“The owner likes to rotate the menu a lot,” Ulloa said. “He likes to figure out what a roaster is making the best at the moment and get that to try.”
Alfonso Guerrero-Villa, the owner of the coffee shop, carries coffees exclusively from various Florida roasters, ranging from Miami to Jacksonville. As the name implies, he emphasizes the importance of knowing where their coffee comes from.
This year, when the shop celebrated its one year anniversary, they closed out the night with a latte art competition open to baristas in the area.
With 14 participants and three rounds of face-offs, numerous lattes, cappuccinos and cortados were made. People gathered in the small, crowded cafe to watch competitors create designs and sip every winning and losing cup.
Deyanira Romero, the shop’s marketing manager and wife of the owner, hopes the competition was the first of many. She enjoys interacting with the local coffee shops and inviting the community for more than coffee.
Both Romero and Ulloa agree when it comes to their signature cappucino: Ulloa enjoys making it and Romero enjoys drinking it.
“The ‘sweet spot,’ which combines espresso, brown sugar, homemade simple syrups and can be served iced or hot,” Romero said. “It is a favorite.”
Located at 5408 NW 8th Ave, Gainesville, Florida.
Most popular drink: the blackberry white mocha.
“When you’re here, there’s a whole experience around it—even if I’m here just solely to get a coffee and go, I’m here for at least 20 minutes talking to people,” Charles Pett said. “It’s an experience.”
When you walk into Cymplify, be mindful of the cat. Her name is Abby, and despite her arthritis, she can be a mean old girl.
Her spot on a cold day is snuggled up in one of the beanbag chairs inside of the shop. No one minds, because it’s the norm.
At Cymplify, or CYM, the motto is ‘Change Your Mind.’ At the coffeehouse, which has been around since 2012, the baristas can take a few preferences and turn them into an individualized drink. Usually, that drink starts with a shot of espresso. Or two.
Walking into CYM, there is an unmistakable sound of gears crunching that indicates an espresso is in the works. While the craft is something that takes calculation and finesse, the baristas handle the espresso like it’s second nature.
Pour, press, connect and then the powerful punch is on its way into the latest latte, macchiato and sometimes even on its own.
Located at 112 NW 16th St, Gainesville, Florida.
Most popular drink: (iced or hot) the cuban latte.
“I think what I love most about this place is the atmosphere--I love the building” Jasmine Rybicki, a customer at Pascal’s, said. “I’m really big into lighting, so I love the natural lighting in this place. And the product is just fantastic. I know I’m getting ethical coffee.”
Established in 2004 and housed in the Christian Study Center, Pascal’s offers a multi-level space for studying, lounging and hand-crafted drinks. It’s like being in a loud library once inside; students fill the shop, some with their noses in books, others engaged in lively conversation.
“It’s a culture of conversation, that’s how we like to think about it,” Juan Alcala, manager at Pascal’s Coffeehouse, said. “We, as baristas, as staff, really feel at home here and even the space is very homey. We like to think of opening our doors as an invitation to the community to step into our home.”
This home is where a lot of people come for the Cuban espressos, or Cubanos. The drink is a mixture of espresso and sugar, which forms the base of Pascal’s Cuban latte and the cortadito.
“The cuban lattes that I tried when I first came, it was the closest thing to [a café con leche] that I have ever tried anywhere,” Alcala said. “Then I slowly began my learning about coffee as a craft.”
When Alcala’s friend first brought him to the coffeehouse around 2011, the drinks reminded him of his own home and the café con leches his Venezuelan family consumed. His tastes have slowly evolved through his years working and managing Pascal’s. These days his drinks are less sugary sweet.
“My default drink is a cappuccino,” Alcala said. “Whenever we have a really exciting single-origin coffee coming in, I like to try them as cappuccinos to see the good espresso-to-milk ratio to make.”
Located at 2029 NW 6th St, Gainesville, Florida.
Most popular drink: the cold brew.
“Cappuccinos are probably my favorite to make and I mostly drink macchiatos” Allie Huggins, a barista at Curia on the Drag, said.
Celebrating their first birthday at the end of March, Curia, owned by Nick Moskowitz, serves as the hub of an artistic compound.
Situated on one side of the coffeehouse and bar is Gallery Protocol. Superfun!, a place for events and smaller shows, is on the other side. Artist residency spaces, called Fermenter, are toward the back.
“So with all that stuff happening with [Curia] in the center of all of it, it’s kind of a meeting place for the people visiting those things,” Allie Huggins said, “as well as a place for artists that are putting shows on to come and plan and be present.”
Huggins, who said she’s always loved coffee, has worked the spectrum of coffee shops, too.
She started her coffee-based employee at Starbucks, then moved over to Pascal’s and now works here, at Curia. Gainesville, where she came for college, is where she really started drinking it seriously, she said.
Rose Vastola, a barista at Maude’s who recently started working at Curia, too, enjoys the vibe that has been created. Her drink of choice lately: the macchiato.
“But I like making lattes,” she said. “It’s like an art here at Curia.”
Located at 101 SE 2nd Place, Gainesville, Florida.
Most popular drink: a raspberry mocha.
“Maude’s is totally different,” Rose Vastola said. “The atmosphere there is super casual. A very queer friendly place, too. It caters to an alternative crowd.”
You can go to see a movie, play a boardgame or watch a drag show, too, said Vastola, a barista at the cafe for the last two years. It’s a place for a variety of people to come and go or sit and stay awhile.
“We have the fancy Hippodrome people that come in and we have the traveler kids who just tie their dogs up to the side of the street,” Vastola said. “The patio is inviting to everybody. You can literally hang out there all day.”
And people do.
Visit Maude’s a few times in a row and the faces start to seem familiar. An older woman and her son sit and drink from brightly colored mugs, the pair a constant fixture. Grab a David Bowie and a large iced Maude’s (a slice of chocolate cake with peanut butter layers and chocolate icing and an iced coffee with milk, honey, nutmeg and cinnamon), and watch the ebb and flow of 20-somethings with animated stories to tell one another.
A Gainesville staple since 1995, the little cafe that could has persisted despite the construction of a Starbucks across the street in 2000. Filled with puns and characters, the place just asks to be explored.