The path to making that perfect cup of espresso can be arduous and tricky, my friend. Buying the espresso machine is just the first step. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make a better shot of espresso and to make the best use that slinky machine of yours-
First, keep in mind the five integral factors that come into consideration while making a great cup of coffee – the Grind, Coffee Beans, Water, the Espresso machine and You.
In your quest for coffee apprentices, remember, chose your grinder wisely.
This, is the make or break component of the espresso. You must aim for the perfect coffee grind, therefore, the grinder is integral to the process, if the coffee grind is too coarse there won’t be optimal extraction since the pressurized water will pass through too fast, and, if the grind is too fine, the water won’t get through and it will clog up the filter.
Your grind should feel like table salt rather than sugar or flour.
You will be forced re-calibrate your grinder many times, in some instances even for the same batch and roast of coffee. So invest in a good grinder.
Keep in mind that mastering this skill is something that takes time, practice and patience. Yet, once you get the hang of this, not only will you be able to taste the finer, intricate notes of the coffee but most importantly you will be able to adjust it to your liking.
2. Coffee Beans
Excellent coffee beans= Excellent espresso.
Fresh coffee beans make a huge difference in the flavoring and taste of your espresso. Ideally, your roast should be three days old for the best coffee experience, pass the five-day mark and your beans start to get stale and lose their intensity.
Ideally, freshly roasted beans are recommended for espressos.
Roast your beans in small batches and DO NOT refrigerate. The condensation residue formed on the coffee and the oils inside that crystallize ultimately serve to distort its flavor. Temperature control is part of the preparation as it preserves the unique taste of your coffee.
Always keep your roasted beans away from sunlight, moisture, and oxygen.
Water is key in the brewing process since it makes up 98% of your coffee. Water acts as a solvent to extract and dissolve the flavor compounds, therefore it can increase or decrease body, impact acidity and influence the filtration.
The best water to coffee ratio is 17.4 units of water to a unit of coffee.
Avoid using ionized or distilled water. Distilled water has a tendency to wear away the machine in order to extract minerals. This erosion will eventually damage your boiler, fittings, and pipes. Also, your espresso will taste weird.
Moderate soft water is recommended since hard water will eventually leave residue in your machine.
Filtered, cool, fresh water ensures the best results.
4. The Espresso Machine
Remember to read the manual closely since each machine is different. Take the time to learn the process of making the espresso and enjoy it.
Maintain your machine and clean it regularly.
Espresso making is an art form and people sometimes spend lifetimes searching for their espresso. An espresso machine allows you more control and choice but it is important to learn and experiment in order to get your ‘god ‘ shot. The perfect espresso is subjective even if it hits all the checkboxes of quality. You will learn about yourself, your machine and your coffee while making it. It is a journey.
Time, patience and experience are key.
Now, a few tips and tricks to help you use your espresso machine better,
- Always preheat your machine, portafilter, and cup using a ‘blank’ shot before you start making your espresso so that it doesn’t cool the extraction down when you’re pulling the actual shot.
- Don’t delay. Lock the portafilter handle into the group head and start the extraction process immediately. Coffee left in the portafilter will burn quickly.
- Time your brewing. The pour time has to remain constant. Stay between 28 and exceed 30 seconds. A single shot of espresso should ideally produce 25- 30 ml in approximately 25-30 seconds. A double shot of espresso should have 60 ml in 25 seconds.
- Keep in mind the type of cream you are looking for, white crema means it was extracted too quickly while dark brown indicates it was too slow. The idea cup of espresso will have a golden layer of crema on top.
- Do a light tamp before the heavy tamping to ensure that the coffee is evenly distributed and always brush the excess remaining grounds off the portafilter rim as these will eventually wear out the group gasket.
- Don’t tap the portafilter after tamping. After tamping, you have a compressed cake of coffee and the shock of tapping can crack it. Any fissures in the puck at that point are not likely to be sealed up properly by a second tamp, and they’ll create pathways for the water to channel through the puck instead of evenly saturating and extracting it.
- You can do it before tamping while the grounds are loose, it helps settle and re-distribute the grounds, which can be a good thing.
Once the puck is tamped, leave it be and pull the shot.
- You should clean the group and the portafilter periodically. When cleaning the equipment, your goal is to break down the remnant old oils and eliminate them. Don’t use harsh soaps to clean any of your espresso-making equipment as it can taint the flavoring of your espressos.
- Make sure your portafilter and tamper match, otherwise there will be problems with consistency which will lead to channeling, so make sure they are the right match.
Hopefully, these tips will help you on your path to the ‘god’ shot comrades. Remember practice and experimentation is vital for brewing the best espresso possible.…