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How to Make Espresso


Why espresso?

Espresso is the base of all or rather most coffee drinks. An espresso machine delivers espresso, it doesn't create cappuccino, latte, mocha and so on... An espresso machine in fact doesn't even create espresso, it is the barista who creates the espresso with the aid of the espresso machine which is why coffee is so often very bad.

It isn't easy to make a consistently good espresso as there are so many factors to take account of in its creation. Above all, it requires the right equipment, knowledge, patience, practice and skill and of course high quality and freshly, correctly ground coffee beans.

All of the following must be considered when making espresso;

Quality and freshness of the beans is paramount. Our beans come from some of the best coffee farms across the globe. The beans must be fresh. Beans should be bought from a specialist coffee supplier as supermarket or general wholesaler coffee beans will have been roasted many weeks if not many months in advance and as such they will be past their best.

Beans should be freshly ground as and when required using a high quality burr grinder. It may take a while to achieve the correct grind specific to the beans being used which is one reason we use several grinders as they are set specifically to each bean. Do not use blade grinders as they cut and slice rather than grind giving poor results.

As espresso is a small drink, it quickly drops in temperature therefore it is crucial that its temperature is maintained as much as possible, therefore ensure your espresso machine is warmed up first, this ensures the portafilter body is warm and also ensures your cup is pre-warmed (this is why we place our cups on top of the espresso machine).

The correct dose of espresso should be used, typically 7 grams (not necessarily always), this should be ground directly into the pre-cleaned portafilter basket. Tap the portafilter gently to level the ground coffee, brush your finger across the top of the portafilter (no pressure!) so that you have a smooth and level surface, then tamp firmly with a flat tamp.

Always use filtered water in your espresso machine as varying levels of chlorine found in tap water can also affect the taste. Purge the espresso machine before you place the portafilter in its group head i.e. let the water run out a little to clean the shower head, then attach the portafilter to the group head and switch on.

A shot of espresso is 1oz in volume although this does tend to vary wherever you go, however 1oz will give the best taste sensation of how an espresso should be delivered. Watch the espresso as it is dispensed, it should be a rich golden brown and resemble a 'mouses tail' as it is being extracted. It should take around 27 seconds give or take a couple of seconds and should not gush out, otherwise it will be weak and water and potentially sour, neither should it slowly drip otherwise it will be burnt, intense and bitter. If you find it came out too quickly then you may need to grind the beans a little finer and / or tamp more firmly, on the other hand, if you find it came out too slowly then you may need to alter the grind to be a little coarser and or tamp a little less firmly - it's all about practice and patience.

To find out more, why not join us on one of our 4 hour barista training courses, they run regularly.


 
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