If you’re new to espresso and espresso-based drinks, you must have found it odd when you see your espresso served with a small glass of sparkling water.
And there are legit reasons why coffee shops do this.
In this article, I will explain 6 reasons why baristas serve sparkling water with espresso and why this became the norm in specialty coffee shops.
I’ll also introduce other ways you can enjoy this odd combo. It’s way more common than you might think!
- Why Is Sparkling Water Served With Coffee?
- The Origin Of The Sparkling Water With Espresso Practice
- Can You Drink Water Instead Of Sparkling Water With Coffee?
- How Do You Drink Espresso With Sparkling Water?
- Is Sparkling Coffee A Thing?
- What Is Espresso With Sparkling Water Called?
- Can You Mix Sparkling Water With Coffee?
- What Happens If You Make Coffee With Sparkling Water?
- Can You Cold Brew With Sparkling Water?
- What's The Best Sparkling Water For Coffee?
- To Wrap Up
Why Is Sparkling Water Served With Coffee?
When you order an espresso at a specialty coffee shop, the server will often bring a glass of sparkling or still water along with it.
It might seem like an odd combo, but there are actually 6 very good reasons for this practice:
- Palate Cleansing
- Coffee Breath Deterrence
- Digestion Aid
- Cooling Effect
1. Palate Cleansing
The main function of the complimentary glass of water is to be a palate cleanser.
Before taking a sip of the cup of espresso, there may be residual taste and texture of toothpaste or food left in the mouth that can affect the espresso drinking experience.
The coffee drinker may not be able to take in all of the subtle flavor notes, texture, and aroma of the cup.
Sipping and swishing some water around before drinking espresso helps to cleanse the palate so that you can fully enjoy all that your espresso has to offer.
Though some shops also serve still (non-sparkling) water with the coffee, sparkling water was found to be a better palate cleanser due to its effervescence.
The bubbles of the espresso sidecar help to stimulate the taste buds in the mouth, making them more receptive to delicate notes.
So, not only does this give you a clean slate to taste your espresso, but it also makes your coffee taste better.
Aside from drinking water before coffee, you can also have some in-between sips of espresso to refresh your palate each time.
However, this is more commonly recommended for subpar espresso shots that have too strong of an aftertaste. Very good espresso or high-quality coffee wouldn’t call for that.
You can also sip on the water when you finish your espresso to clear your palate and prepare it for other foods and drinks.
2. Coffee Breath Deterrence
As delicious as the espresso shot is (single or double shot), you wouldn’t want the coffee breath from this intense beverage to join you as you get on with your day – going to work and communicating with others.
So, rather than bringing your toothbrush and toothpaste and brushing your teeth again at the local coffee shop, all you have to do is have a sip from the glass of sparkling water when finishing your espresso to get rid of the undesirable coffee breath.
3. Digestion Aid
Sparkling water can also help with digestion!
Coffee can be quite acidic, and over time, this acidity can take its toll on your teeth and digestive system.
A quick swish of water around your mouth can help to remove some of the acidity and protect your teeth and sensitive stomach.
Drinking coffee can lead to mild dehydration since it is a diuretic, which means that it causes your body to expel more water than usual.
By pairing espresso with water, coffee shops can help to prevent their customers from becoming dehydrated.
5. Cooling Effect
Hot coffee drinks can also sometimes make you feel overheated, especially in the hot weather.
Sipping on some cool water throughout your meal can help you to stay comfortable and avoid becoming overheated.
All in all, it’s a simple yet considerate hospitality gesture to make the customer feel welcomed before they make additional orders, much like a restaurant.
It doesn’t cost the coffee shop much when serving water either.
In return, the customers get to enjoy a more enjoyable cup of espresso and maybe even have their day brightened by the considerate gesture.
The Origin Of The Sparkling Water With Espresso Practice
Most people would expect the espresso served with a water combo originated from the main benefit the water provides – acting as an effective cleanser.
However, some doubt that’s the OG reason that sparked this practice.
Another theory suggests that the baristas started serving a glass of water to show the customer that the shot of espresso was made with clean water.
Either way, the practice has persisted to this day.
It has also been included in professional coffee competitions, making it more standard in the coffee world.
Can You Drink Water Instead Of Sparkling Water With Coffee?
Yes. In fact, many cafes and restaurants serve regular still water when you’re drinking espresso.
Though it doesn’t have a cleaning effect as strong on your palate, it’s great for rehydration and doesn’t make you gassy afterward.
So, if you’re sensitive to gassy drinks and want to avoid accidentally burping at work, enjoy your espresso with a simple glass of water instead.
Some shops may even give you a bar of dark chocolate as well!
How Do You Drink Espresso With Sparkling Water?
Just take a sip and swirl it around in your mouth to bring down any taste residue down your throat, preparing it for the incoming sip of the well-balanced shot of espresso.
Do You Drink Sparkling Water Before Or After Coffee?
Whichever you prefer. You can do both.
When drinking it before coffee, it can help cleanse your palate and get rid of any morning breath, allowing you to enjoy your coffee cup to its fullest potential.
If you drink it after, it can help to remove the coffee taste from your mouth and move on with your day or prepare your palate for whatever else you plan on eating or drinking.
Do You Mix Espresso With Sparkling Water?
No, and yes. You should drink them separately to enjoy the full benefits. However, if it’s intentional to create a frothy coffee drink, feel free to do it!
Is Sparkling Coffee A Thing?
Yes. Sparkling coffee is one of the newest ways of enjoying cold coffee that’s quickly growing in popularity among coffee fanatics.
It’s basically carbonated coffee made of coffee and sparkling water (soda water).
Other than the refreshingly fizzy taste, you can also enjoy this beverage in a variety of flavors depending on what coffee flavorings are added.
But, this may not be a recent invention. Some sources say that the coffee soda was invented in Calabria, Italy, and has been around for around a whole century.
So, it’s certainly becoming more mainstream in the public.
If you enjoy fizzy coffee brews like this one, give the Nitro Cold Brew a try as well.
What Is Espresso With Sparkling Water Called?
It can be called “espressoda” and it’s very easy to make.
- Prepare a cup of ice
- Add sparkling water (or club soda)
- Add your favorite flavored syrups and stir the mixture
- Pull a shot of espresso and pour it over
It’s a refreshing way of enjoying an espresso in the hot hot summer. You can taste the espresso and enjoy the fizzy feeling all in one drink.
Can You Mix Sparkling Water With Coffee?
Yes, you totally can do it with other types of coffee drinks as well. Feel free to experiment with your daily cups to discover your next coffee obsessions!
One of the most popular combos is sparkling water and Cold Brew AKA Sparkling Cold Brew. It adds a bit of fizz and lightness to the Cold Brew concentrate, making it a great summer beverage.
Feel free to add additional cream or any of your favorite flavored syrup to add more dimension to the drink.
You can also make a sparkling coffee by adding some to your regular cup of drip coffee or French Press.
An additional squeeze of lemon can counteract the bitterness if you’re worried about the effect of carbonation.
What Happens If You Make Coffee With Sparkling Water?
You should NOT substitute regular still water with sparkling water to brew your coffee.
The best outcome is, that when the sparkling water is heated up (since most brewing methods involve the use of hot water), it will lose its fizziness and come out still.
The result will just be a regular cup with some flat remaining flavor of sparkling water mixed in with the coffee taste.
The worst outcome is, that the gases may rise and clog the inner compartments of the coffee machine, causing your brewing device to malfunction, especially when pressure is involved (like an espresso machine).
And the espresso machine may shut down, possibly with or without a messy explosion.
Another thing is, that the gases of the water can prevent the water from coming into contact with the coffee grounds to properly extract the coffee compounds.
That’s why blooming in drip and manual drip (Pour-Over) brewing and pre-infusion in espresso brewing are necessary to help the ground coffee degas before the main extraction process.
So, by using this gassy water, your coffee-to-water contact won’t be optimal and you’ll end up with a cup of diluted under-extracted Joe.
Sparkling water can also be pretty acidic, so the taste may be off if that’s not what you’re into.
If you want to try using it to brew coffee anyway, your best bet is with Cold Brew coffee via the steeping method.
Some coffee lovers also suggest force carbonating the already brewed coffee using Soda Stream. However, I should warn you that the result will be very messy.
So, the best way to enjoy it is to simply mix it with your coffee, so that it has nothing to do with the brewing process. You can avoid potential messy explosions and get to enjoy interestingly fizzy frothy drinks.
Can You Cold Brew With Sparkling Water?
Yes, as mentioned above, you can use it instead of regular water to make steeped Cold Brew.
Just make sure to use a sealed container to ensure that the water remains carbonated by the end of the process.
What’s The Best Sparkling Water For Coffee?
There are many types and brands out there.
However, the best sparkling water to drink with coffee, in my opinion, is S.Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water.
The mineral water has a crisp and clean taste with no artificial colors or flavors.
And, it’s naturally enriched with beneficial minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and mineral salts.
To Wrap Up
And, those are the reasons why a glass of water accompanies your cup of espresso. Now that you know, be sure to take advantage of that refreshing little glass of water!
Why Do Restaurants Serve Water With Coffee?
For the same reasons why cafes serve them, though it’s mostly the last one:
Coffee Breath Deterrence