The Question was asked by George:
Q: While reading and learning, I've ran across statements that indicate the quality of the shot is better if brewed directly into the serving cup. So my question is, how many of you brew into the serving cup, shot glass, or brewing pitcher. Does any of the three have advantages over the other?
I believe it's a must. I wouldn't frequent a place that as a practice brews into shot glasses and transfers. To me, it shows a lack of understanding of espresso. The essence of espresso--the body/flavor/mouthfeel, etc. all result from having proper crema.
If you transfer, there is too much loss of crema. This results in a significant loss in taste and body, as well as makes it more difficult to do proper latte art.
Even with the gallons of milk some shops like to shove into their drinks, it makes a HUGE difference. These are still espresso based drinks, and if the base is not perfect, it will resonate throughout the drink.
Secondly, it's an unnecessary step. Why brew and transfer?
More dishes to wash (I hate washing MORE dishes!!), and you lose a good portion of the thing (espresso) you just went to the trouble to make. What is AWFUL is those who do decide to use this method, who reuse the same shot glasses instead of grabbing fresh ones for every drink. At least make the effort. This ultimately is the fault of the owner. The barista, for the most part, will only do as they are trained. The world-class barista will always question methodology and seek a better way.
BUT if you are not fresh grinding per drink, with fresh roasted beans, and doing all the other things that are necessary at a minimum to make proper espresso drinks--it really doesn't matter--go ahead transfer away, no one will know the difference.
asking implies caring. And that is the right path to be on. Every day is a new day to improve.