How to Brew: Espresso At Home
Espresso is the only method that brews coffee using pump pressure. When you brew coffee with an espresso machine, the water temperature is kept below the boiling point, which helps avoid scalding the coffee. There are many theories and practises when it comes to brewing espresso, from the classic Italian approach to the American adaptions, and the Scandinavian versions to the Antipodean interpretations. Irrespective of which system you prefer and follow, it's useful to remember that Espresso, at its core, is just a brewing method as well as the name of a beverage. Here is the process of brewing espresso we use both commercially and domestically.
- 1Fill the clean espresso machine with fresh water and the grinder with beans that have been given a week or two to rest and degas since roasting. Allow the machine and portafilter to become thoroughly warmed up.
- 2Wipe the portafilter clean with a dry cloth, so that none of the grounds in the machine is re-brewed.
- 3Flush some water through the group head to stabilize the temperature and clean any old coffee residue off the shower screen.
- 4According to its size and your preferred recipe, grind the coffee and dose between 16 grams and 23 grams into the basket.
- 5Distribute the coffee in the basket by gently shaking the portafilter or tapping it on a counter. You could use a distribution tool as well.
- 6Use a tamper that fits the size of your basket. Keeping it level to the edges of the basket, press the coffee down with a firm push to create a solid puck of even thickness. Do not use excessive force or tamp again.
- 7Insert the portafilter into the group head, and immediately activate the pump to brew, using either the volumetric settings for two shots of Espresso or the free-flow button, which you switch off when you reach the desired weight or volume.
- 8Place a warmed espresso cup under the spouts or two cups if you wish to split the shots into two single shots.
- 9The coffee should appear after 5 – 8 seconds, dripping and flowing with a deep brown or golden colour that lightens as the brew progresses and the solubles are washed out. You should extract around 50ml – 60ml or double your dose weight in 25 – 30 seconds, including the crema. The output will depend on your recipe, but a good rule is to start with 1:2, which means if you were to dose 23 grams of coffee grinds, you would want to end with 46 grams of Espresso in around 25 – 30 seconds.
TIPS FROM THE PROS
- Every coffee is different. Always adjust your grinder according to the coffee you are using. As humidity changes and your coffee ages, you will most likely have to adjust the grind settings slightly.
- Grind finer if your shot runs too fast.
- Grind courser if your shot runs too slow.
- Use the largest filter basket available for your machine to get the best flavours from your coffee.
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