How To Make The Perfect EspressoFollow the five important steps below to produce fantastic tasting espresso.
Keep things hot
The key thing to remember is that espresso cools quickly as it is a small volume of liquid – therefore it is essential to maintain everything coming into contact with the coffee at a high temperature. Make sure the machine and group handle (porta-filter) are hot by running a few dummy espressos before making one for real. Cups should be kept on the warming shelf on top of the machine. If you are making the first few espressos of the day before the machine has seen much action, it is an idea to warm the cups with a little hot water before commencing.
Crema is King.
The best indication of good espresso is the crema. It should be a light caramel colour with enough consistency to hold half a teaspoon of sugar on the surface for 3 seconds or more. The appearance of the crema is an excellent indication of the quality of your espresso. If the crema is more white than brown, the coffee is under-extracted and needs either a finer grind and/or firmer tamping. If the crema looks burnt or is very dark in the middle, the coffee is over-extracted; perhaps the grind is too fine, the dose too large, the tamping too hard, or too much water has run through the coffee.
Tamping the coffee is the process of compacting 7g of ground coffee in the porta-filter with a tamping device. Use the tamper on the underside of the grinder or a hand held tamp. Apply firm pressure - enough to hold the grind when the porta-filter is turned upside down, but not too firm, otherwise this will lead to a longer extraction time.
All in the Timing.
Perfect espresso takes 18-23 seconds plus 2-3 seconds pre-infusion time - too long means your coffee grind is too fine, the coffee should be the texture of coarse sand. If the coffee is too fine your espresso will be harsh and bitter from over-extraction. Less than 18 seconds means either your coffee grind is too coarse or the tamp pressure is insufficient. An under-extracted coffee will result in a thin bubbly crema and weak espresso.
The Mouse's Tail.
Look at the flow of the liquid when making an espresso - it should be constant and resemble a mouse's tail. If the tail is too thick, the coffee grind is too coarse or the tamping is too light. If the tail drips and bubbles, the opposite applies.
Follow the above tips and enjoy delicious tasting espresso every time.
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