Preparing good espresso doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might think. With the correct equipment and a little bit of know-how, you’ll soon be pulling great shots in the comfort of your own kitchen.
According to the SCA “espresso is a 25–35 ml beverage prepared from 7–9 grams of coffee through which clean water of 90.5-96.1ºC has been forced at 9–10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brew time is 20–30 seconds.”
The 20–30 seconds is a good parameter. However, keep in mind that there is no hard-and-fast rule. The behavior of coffee during extraction depends on factors including grind size, coffee origin, roast profile, and more.
Start with “BETTER COFFEE”
- Use good equipment (grinder & machine)
- Grind your coffee well (the finer the grind the better)
- Decide on your Coffee:Water Brew Ratio
- Pay attention to water Quality & Temperature
- Evenly Distribute & Tamp your Coffee
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s talk about some steps to making your at home espresso.
1. Clean your portafilter
Before dosing the coffee to your portafilter, make sure that the portafilter is clean and tidy. Both moisture and leftover grounds might (and most likely will) make your future espresso taste over-extracted = astringent and bitter.
2. Dose correctly
This should be pretty easy. With on-demand grinders you just need to push a button with your portafilter or hand and the grinder will dose your pre-set dose. If you want to be a really professional and geeky barista, check your dose on a scale before distributing and tamping.
3. Distribute your grounds
Most likely your grinder will dose the grounds to the portafilter’s basket to a mountain or a pyramid shape. This means that you have uneven distribution of the grounds so some parts of the basket will have more coffee and some parts less if you don’t distribute them before tamping. Bad distribution of the grounds might lead to channelling.
4. Tamp evenly and consistently
The aim of tamping is to remove any air pockets in the coffee puck and do this so that the puck is completely leveled. Tamp so long and “hard” that you feel that the puck is compressed (in other words it doesn’t go down anymore).
5. Rinse your group head
Before inserting the portafilter to the group head, you might want to rinse the group head to remove any old coffee from it. Easy way to keep your espresso machine clean.
6. Insert the portafilter and start brewing immediately
After rinsing, insert the portafilter to the group head and start brewing IMMEDIATELY! If you don’t start brewing immediately, the heat from the group head might “burn” the Fun fact: in World Barista Championships you will lose a point if you don’t start the brewing immediately.
7. Be aware of the yield & brew time
Now you are brewing your espresso. Be aware of your yield e.g. if your espresso is running a bit too fast, you are just diluting (making it milder) your espresso and possibly also over-extracting at the same time.
8. Discard the puck, clean the basket and rinse the group head.
After serving keep the places neat and tidy. Clean the basket from any old coffee and moisture, rinse the group head and insert the portafilter back to the group head. It is much easier, faster and nicer to make the next espresso when everything is in order.
“To become a great barista one has to have a combination of mechanical skill set and service attitude. You must know how to handle your equipment and coffee as a compound but also to be a great service person for your customers.”