For coffee lovers, espresso is the quintessential coffee preparation – rich, aromatic and velvety all at once; a natural layer of crema on top belying a full-bodied, yet deftly balanced liquid below. When ideally realized, a small miracle of chemistry and physics: science and art gliding together on air.
The name says all: an espresso is to be freshly prepared and enjoyed immediately. Expressly!
HOW TO MAKE ESPRESSO
- Clean the machine.
- Before you start the espresso shot make sure and also pre-warm the espresso machine’s portafilter by running it under hot water. Some espresso machines will heat the portafilter automatically. This is important because if it is cold then the metal of the portafilter can lower the espresso’s brewing temperature preventing it from extracting properly.
- Give your machine some time to heat up.
- Grind a few beans to check for appropriate fineness and purge your grinder of stale grounds.
- Dose some grams of freshly ground coffee into the portafilter. Afterwards, use your forefinger to level the grounds and fill in any air pockets. (When dosing coffee, it’s important to level the coffee grounds using either a finger or a tool in order to create an even density of the coffee bed before tamping).
- Return the portafilter to the grouphead and begin brewing. If your machine offers a separate pre-brew or “pre-infusion” stage, complete this first. By doing so, you’ll allow stored gases to release before full infusion begins. With fresh coffee, pre-infuse until your see the first drops exit the portafilter.
- Begin infusion and end brew at predetermined yield: 2 fluid ounces or about 30 grams.
Before serving, mix crema by stirring or pouring espresso into another cup.
TIPS TO CONSIDER:
- Your espresso will taste only as good as the water you start with.
- Before brewing, coffee beans need to be cut into smaller pieces. Making espresso requires a finer grind than most methods, with particles around the size of table salt.
- All of the above differs according to your machine, coffee and palate, so experiment. Once happy, keep an eye on the extraction time – if it comes through quicker than usual, your grind’s probably too coarse.
- One more general concern is that if you brew the espresso shot for too short of a time then it will not achieve its full flavor, though if you brew it too long you may extract too much bitterness so always brew at the moderate level to get the best flavor.
- While a typical espresso brewing time is 22 seconds, the actual time for your perfect solo espresso shot could vary depending on certain factors. Most importantly, end the extraction process at just the right time to avoid an over-extracted or under-extracted espresso shot.