Okay, so I’m going to be extremely honest with you. When I first learned how to make coffee, I was pretty confident that I’d nail it. However then I got behind the machine and basically started making an espresso. Did I nail it? Well, let’s extremely say, I didn’t pull the famous “god shot” that baristas obsess about. That shot was less than average.
Preparing an espresso coffee is a humble procedure, once you get the hang of the variables and utilize the right equipment. Once you know how to play with tamping, grinding, dosage and extraction time, you will be able to customize the taste of your shots to your liking.
This page is an introduction to the art of pulling an espresso shot. If you have some experience with brewing espresso coffee, this might not be for you.
What Is an Espresso?
An espresso coffee is a bold “shot” extracted from finely ground coffee, pushing water under high pressure in a short amount of time. It is identified by a foamy brown substance called crema. It is slightly bitter in taste and floats atop a darker liquid which carries a lot of the flavor and tends to be sweeter.
The crema is what brews espresso special, and it provides your shot personality. It looks nice however more than that it offers your coffee its best aroma and taste. It also plays a pivotal function in your milk-based beverages as it brews your latte art much easier (a bit more on this later on.).
What Are the Variables that Influence the Taste of Espresso coffee?
Let us first talk about the key factors that make or break your espresso coffee.
The grind is how fine or how coarse you grind your coffee beans. When you make an espresso coffee, you need to grind extremely finely. Fine-tune the grind size to a table salt comparable size. The finer you grind your beans, the longer it will take for water to be pushed through it. The coarser you grind your beans, the less time it will take for water to run through your coffee.
The dosage is the weight of dry coffee beans you dispense into your portafilter. Check the weight of the portafilter basket and dose within 1 to 2 grams of the weight. We advise utilizing 17-20 grams.
This is one of the a lot of important variables as it evens the out the grounds and compresses them. You shouldn’t tamp too hard as this will create too much resistance for the water to pour through. Neither you ought to tamp too light as the water will pass through too fast, resulting in a weak shot.
When you turn your machine on, wait for it to heat up before you start playing around with it. The temperature is usually around 90 degrees. The water needs to be hot enough to absorb the aromas of the coffee.
This variable is the the majority of important difference between espresso and alternative brewing methods. When we discuss pressure in espresso coffee, we are usually referring to 9 bar pressure. The 9 bar pressure creates enough force to break the resistance of the compacted grounds created by the tamp. The pressure pulls the tastes out. The more pressure exerted the more flavor you’ll extract.
Lots of espresso machines have a pressure gauge, usually located at the front of the machine. You can read on the gauge the pump operating pressure. This is an important part of the machine.
Last nevertheless not least, check the cleanliness of the machine. Especially the portafilter and the group head. There should be no trace of old coffee grounds left in the portafilter and the group head. Work with a cloth to wipe the group head and then flush the group head by turning the water on and then off.
Now that you understand the variables, let’s make coffee!
Why a Pump Espresso Machine?
We have an post about alternative espresso brewing, but if you want authentic espresso, a pump driven espresso coffee machine is the right device for you. The pump espresso coffee machine has the 9 Bar pressure essential to push the water through the compacted coffee grounds. Other methods are nowhere near that force. The pressure does a few excellent things to your coffee. Here are a few of them:
- Allows more soluble solids to pass into your cup
- It shortens the brewing time
- Lowers the brewing temperature, and permits colder brewing
- It emulsifies the oils into your coffee
Low-pressure coffee makers, such as moka pot, or steam espresso coffee makers, cannot produce crema, and there is a higher risk to burn the coffee, (over-extract). At the same time, a good espresso machine will create a wonderful foamy layer, that is both aesthetic and tasty. It adds a new flavor dimension to your shot. If you think you cannot afford a pump driven machine, take a look at these economical espresso machines. You’d be surprised at how inexpensive some of these units are.
How to make an espresso using an espresso coffee machine
a. Prepare Your Machine and Device
- Fill up your water reservoir.
Open the water reservoir and pour distilled water in there. If you’re a beginner, your water quality may not be as important as getting the steps right, but as you advance and start to play around with tastes and espresso quality; water will play a huge role. Simply, the best is spring water, nevertheless using distilled is more convenient because you don’t need to descale as often. But this is another discussion.
- Heat up the entire machine.
Before you start utilizing your machine, make sure the water in the boiler has the right temperature. All the espresso machine have a light that means when the water in the boiler is hot. The worst thing you can do is pull a shot with lukewarm water. This will give you a weak, under-extracted cold espresso shot. Yuck!
- Check your device.
Wipe your portafilter with a clean cloth to remove any remaining coffee grounds and flush your group head to drain residue off your machine. If your machine and portafilter aren’t clean, the taste of your espresso coffee is at risk of being bitter and over-extracted. Cleanliness is probably among the many neglected aspects. However let me ask you this: “Would you beverage from a dirty cup?”
Prepare your beans
- Dose your coffee
Utilizing a scale, weigh the entire weight of the portafilter and lock down this amount in the memory of your scale. Now grind your beans under the coffee grind dispenser. Keep tapping the portafilter lightly to uniformly distribute the beans in your portafilter. Place your portafilter on the scale again to check the dose of our coffee. The more grounds you utilize, the more resistance you create in the coffee puck. Due to the truth that of this, it is very important to get the right dose.
If you absolutely dread the idea of weighing coffee beans, (I’ve seen that before), then measure with a scoop.
- Give it a good tamp
Once you’ve dosed your beans, utilize your finger to spread the coffee grounds around your portafilter. This step creates an even bed of coffee grounds in your portafilter to make sure your tamp is as even as possible. Place your palm on top of the knob of the tamp, grab the tamper and place your thumb and index finger on the top edge of the base. With your elbow at a 90-degree angle and your forearm in a straight line with your wrist, push the tamp down on your bed of coffee allowing your fingers to kiss the rims of the portafilter basket. Give it a gentle twist and lift the tamper. For more advanced tamping techniques that genuine baristas utilize, check the Stockfleths Move. Finally, wipe the rim of the portafilter to remove any trace of dry, loose coffee grounds.
Tamping needs to be the variable that doesn’t change. Think about it: if you change 3 things at the same time, and you get the great shot, how do you learn
Prepare to Pull the Shot
- Prepare to pull
Weigh your espresso cup on the scale and lock in the amount. Flush the group head (if you haven’t already) and lock the portafilter into the group head. Push the button to release water and press the timer at the same time, (if your machine has one). A timer or the stop clock on your phone will likewise do the trick!
There are two things to look out for at this stage. First, you could go by the time it takes to extract a shot, or you could go by sight – which implies you observe the change in the color of the crema. If you go by time, the basic extraction time is somewhere between 20-30 seconds for a shot. Alternatively, look at the color of the espresso coffee. It will start to drip a dark brown color. Then it will go from a reddish brown to a medium brown and finally a golden brown color. In barista language, this is called blonding. At this point, your espresso coffee is fully made so stop here. Any further brewing will cause your espresso coffee to be over extracted and thus taste bitter.
One more thing, no matter what size you pull, a solo or a doppio, the extraction time is the same. That means you need to troubleshoot grind size to restrict the flow for a solo, whereas you grind coarser for a doppio, to compensate for the thicker coffee puck.
That’s it! Make sure you keep practicing getting the flavor, the timing and your tamp right.
This article firstly appeared at Brew Espresso Coffee, a website dedicated to vulgarize the art of making espresso beverages.