Espresso Brewing Guide
With a little bit of time, effort, quality hardware and coffee; producing a great shot of espresso is just a few tamps away. When making espresso we like to point out the four variables in which one can control: Coffee Quality, Coffee Coarseness, Coffee Dosage, and Tamp Pressure (when using commercial equipment you may have the option to regulation stream pressure and pump pressure).
STEP 1: WARMING THE CUP
When using a porcelain or ceramic espresso cup it is important to preheat it. Using the hot water spout on your espresso machine fill your cup and set aside. If your espresso machine does not come equipped with a water spout you can get hot water out of the group head directly into the cup. In doing so you will prevent the cold porcelain cups from extracting the heat out of your espresso leaving you with a cold shot.
STEP 2: PREPARE PORTAFITLER (HANDLE)
In this step you want to make sure your Portafilter (handle) is hot and clean. It is import the the brass portafilter be hot or it will extract the heat out of the water before it penetrates through coffee. The keep this from happening it is important to keep the portafilter handle attached to machine in-between shots. After the portafilter is hot, remove and wipe clean of any debris .
STEP 3: GRIND AND DOSE
Using fresh ground coffee is your first step to a perfect shot of espresso. Try to get your hands on a quality burr (rather than blade) grinder. Using a burr grinder will ensure uniform ground coffee with consistency. For espresso we want to achieve a finer grind then than used for brewer traditional coffee; powdery fine but not clumping together. Fill portafilter handle until you have a slightly elevated mound above the rim. Try to make sure to only grind enough coffee for your use at that time, ground coffee left for over 30 minutes ground will be stale.
STEP 4: SETTLE AND LEVEL
Gentle tap the portafilter on the counter or hard surface to settle the coffee. You should notice the coffee compact slightly. Using one finger gentle grade excess coffee off the portafilter; be sure not to pack coffee further while doing so. When finished coffee should be perfectly level with top of portafilter.
STEP 5: TAMP COFFEE
Make sure your tamper is the right size for your espresso machine. Espresso machine manufactures vary there sizes within millimeters of each other so this is very important. It is best to exercise your tamping skills on a bathroom scales to learn exactly what 30-35 pounds of pressure feels like. With tamper in one hand and portafilter in the other and apply 30-35 pounds of pressure on portafilter making sure that presure is applied evenly. Quickly spin tamper while still in portafilter (this is called polishing) to cleanup any missed coffee.
STEP 6: PURGE GROUPHEAD
Prior to inserting portafilter into machine it is important to purge (run water through) the grouphead. Allow water to flow for 5 second or until boiling hot water and hissing steaming stop.
STEP 7: INSERT PORTAFILTER AND CUP
Insert the portafilter and position your now hot cup (empty water and dry) under spout.
STEP 8: WATCH CLOSELY
This is what it all boils down to. Now we find out if we combined all of the measures correctly. With a timer or watch in hand start the brew cycle, coffee should start to pour within 4 second of turning brew button on. From that moment start the count down. We are looking for a stream equal to the width of a strand of spaghetti.Your end result should be 1oz of espresso with a brew time of 25-29 seconds.
STEP 9: TASTE AND ADJUST IF NEEDED
The chances that your espresso came out perfect the first time are slim. Here are some helpful tips to hone in on your skills.
– If your end shot is 1oz in under 20 seconds these means your coffee is to coarse so you will have to adjust it finer.
– If your end shot is 1oz but takes longer than 30 seconds your coffee is to fine so you will need to make your coffee coarser. This is called “over extraction”, you will notice that the crema is sometime faded in the center when this happens.