Brewing guide: Espresso

Quick review

Level of effort

Less forgiving results than other methods, therefore demands decent level of knowledge, experience and equipment for optimal results.

Affordability

Price varies from non-electric equipment to high end machines, but typically costs are higher than other methods and requires a good grinder.

 

Quality

A good espresso shot is rich and well balanced, with noticeable sweetness; can be drunk with milk, water or as it comes. 

Why we like it

An excellent match for steamed milk, if extracted adequately. Also, it can give you an amazing experience when you find that sweet spot.

 

Step by step guide

Extraction time: 25 - 30 seconds

You'll need the following equipment...

Espresso equipment (manual or machine)

Grinder

Tamper

Digital scale

Timer

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Step 1

Grind your beans

Measure 18* grams of coffee beans and grind them. We recommend a fine grind (something between caster sugar and icing sugar).

* Depending on the size of your basket.

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Step 4

Place the portafilter in the grouphead

When putting the portafilter in place ready for extraction, please do it in a smooth way, to avoid knocking it and creating channelling in your carefully prepared coffee puck.

 

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Step 2

Distribute the grind

It is important that you distribute the coffee grind evenly in the coffee puck before tamping to allow an even extraction and to avoid channelling of the water.

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Step 5

Adjust your settings

An espresso machine should allow you to adjust the amount of water dispensed and/or the length of time of your extraction. Check the recommended recipe of your coffee beans, and adjust accordingly. thSet the machine to obtain that amount, in weight, of yield espresso to achieve your desire extraction recipe.

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Step 3

Tamp the grind

Press the grind down in the portafilter, using a tamper. The evenness and pressure of your tamping will impact results, so make sure you are consistent in order to either replicate or compare your results every time.

Step 6

Extraction

Every machine will have its own settings or buttons to initiate the extraction. Whichever equipment you have, aim for a smooth ‘honey-like’ flow. If the extraction is too fast, you create under-extraction. If it too slow or it is choking, this is over-extraction.

Espresso TROUBLESHOOTING

In case you come across these problems, here are some tips...

Choking during extraction

One reason could be because the grind size is too fine in relation to the machine's pressure setting when this pressure is not enough to pass water through the coffee puck. A standard/conventional water pressure set by default in espresso machines is nine bars.

Under-extraction. There are many variables that affect an espresso extraction. Three important ones are; Dose(grams), time (seconds) and yield (grams). An espresso recipe will tell you the weight of the dose, and how long it should take for water to pass through the coffee in order to produce the required yield weight. Now, if it takes a short amount of time to produce the required yield, then it’s likely the coffee is under-extracted (your coffee will come out quickly). It will taste salty, with a sharpness to its acidity, and it will lack body and sweetness. Essentially, you will not have a balanced shot of espresso because the water did not have enough time to extract all those compounds within the grounds. A way of correcting this is to adjust the grind size to make it finer, hence more surface area exposed to the water. This will also slow down the time it takes for the water to pass through the coffee (in the same way water runs slower through sand than it does through pebbles), giving it more time to extract all those compounds within the grounds.