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Why is Espresso Served with Sparkling Water? The Benefits of a Sidecar

At a local cafe, I overheard a customer asking why his espresso shot came with a bottle of sparkling water. That’s when I realized that the benefit of the fizzy drink isn’t common knowledge to people, even if they’ve been drinking espresso for years.

In this article, I’ll go in-depth on this subject— exploring the origins of this trend and the science behind it.

By the end of this guide, you’ll understand the benefits of serving espresso with bubbling mineral or soda water so you can appreciate your cup of joe like a pro.

Why Drink Espresso with Sparkling Water?

While espresso was first invented by Italians, it is unclear where the pairing of espresso and sparkling water (also referred to as “sidecar”) was first introduced. But today, it has become a popular tradition in quality cafés worldwide.

The question remains though: Why is espresso served with sparkling water?

Here are the benefits of drinking a fizzy glass of water alongside your coffee:

Palate Cleanser

First and foremost, sparkling water is used to cleanse the palate. When you take a sip of that fizzy goodness before diving into your rich and intense shot of espresso, it helps to remove any lingering tastes from your previous meals or drinks.

It gives your taste buds a fresh start so that you can truly appreciate the flavors of the espresso in its purest form.

Sense of Taste Enhancer

Sparkling water also enhances our perception of flavor. The carbonation in the water creates tiny bubbles that gently agitate your taste buds, making them more receptive to the complex notes and nuances present in the espresso. Almost like an espresso flavor explosion in your mouth.

Hydration & Refreshing Sensation

It also hydrates you while you’re enjoying your coffee, especially since caffeine can have a diuretic effect. So sipping on sparkling water helps you ensure that you replenish the water in your body.

So the next time that you’re at a coffee shop and you get served water with your cup of espresso, don’t hesitate to give this tradition a try.

When to Drink the Sparkling Water?

If you’re a newcomer to the rich world of espresso, you might also wonder when to drink the water. The simple answer is that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

Before Drinking Your Espresso

You definitely want to cleanse your palate right before taking a sip of your rich and intense espresso. This is especially important if you just consumed a flavorful dish or beverage beforehand.

Just take a small sip of sparkling water to clear away any lingering flavors so you can fully appreciate the complex taste profile without any interference.

After Drinking Your Espresso

In other cases, you might also want to save your sparkling water and drink it after you’ve had your dose of caffeine. You can use the water to fight off coffee breath and refresh your mouth after indulging in the bold flavors of espresso.

In Between Sips of Your Espresso

If you’re consuming something else alongside your espresso, such as a pastry, you might also want to drink small sips of water between eating your food and drinking your coffee. This helps you separate the two flavor profiles. Personally, I don’t do this because I often pair my espresso with foods that actually complement my drink so it interferes with that harmony in my mouth.

Instead, I find myself taking the first two approaches – drinking water before and after my espresso. Sometimes I crave that initial cleansing sensation before diving into my espresso shot, while other times I enjoy savoring every last drop before reaching for that bubbly companion.

Ultimately, this decision is up to you, but the important thing is that you can enjoy your espresso drink and go on with your day powered by that energizing caffeine kick.

Variations and Alternatives to Sparkling Water

Now that you know when to drink sparkling water as you enjoy your espresso, let’s take a look at some variations and alternatives to this classic pairing. While sparkling water is the most common choice, there are also alternatives you can choose from:

Sparkling Americano

If you take an espresso shot and sparkling water and combine them into a single drink, what you get is the Sparkling Americano – a twist on the classic Americano. Thanks to its carbonation, you can expect an extra layer of texture to the coffee which enhances your overall drinking experience.

Still Water

Baristas often serve sparkling water but some coffee shops may opt for still water instead. I also do this when I brew my own espresso at home, since we usually don’t have sodawater at home.

Sparkling Vs Still Water

Personally, I find that still water or non-carbonated water provides a pure palate-cleansing effect without the need for fizziness. This actually allows me to fully focus on the flavors of my crema-crowned drink.

But as always, at the end of the day, it’s all about personal preference and finding what works best for you. Whether you choose sparkling water or still water, the goal is to enhance your espresso experience and cleanse your palate.

Making Sparkling Water at Home

Another alternative to buying bottles of sparkling water to go with your espresso is making your own sparkling water at home.

The easiest way to do this is to buy a soda maker or sparkling water maker. This handy device comes with a CO2 tank or canister and a carbonating bottle, allowing you to fizz up your water.

You can also use a soda siphon or seltzer bottle which uses CO2 cartridges for water carbonation. It’s a classic way to make your espresso sidecar.

Wrapping It Up

Not you know that Espresso gets served with sparkling water to help cleanse your palate and allow you to really appreciate the taste of that espresso shot. You can drink it before, after, or in between your coffee sipping – it’s up to you, but it’s best to get your taste buds ready before your first sip.

Now that you know the benefits and alternatives of drinking sparkling water while savoring a hot cup of espresso, go on and give it a try yourself. You might be amazed by how much more enjoyable your daily dose of caffeine could be.

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