I’m going to give you two shots of espresso and they’re going to taste completely different,” says Alex Spampinato. “Your job is to work out why – and you’re not going to get it right.”
Ooh, I like these kinds of challenges. Eyes peeled, hackles up, I watch the professional barista grind some recently roasted coffee beans, press them down, and hook them up to an espresso machine. He hits a button, counts to four, and treacle-thick coffee trickles out, pooling in a small mug below. Spampinato waits a beat, then hands it to me to taste. It’s rich, creamy, nutty and sweet. Perfect.
My challenger returns to his work station. Beans ground, pressed down, into the machine, count to four, small mug below. Wait a beat, over to me. Yuck! It’s thin, bitter; I recoil like I’ve had a shot of bad whiskey.
“What did I do?” asks Spampinato, playing Derren Brown to my stupefied audience member.