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How to make Espresso

 

 Espresso’s authentic formula is clear and basic, its proper execution a matter of training, experience and natural talent.  A jet of hot water at 88°-93°C (190°-200°F) passes under a pressure of nine or more atmospheres through a seven-gram (.25 oz) cake-like layer of ground and tamped coffee. Done right, the result is a concentrate of not more than 30 ml (one oz) of pure sensorial pleasure.

 

The two most important factors that have the most impact on the end result are the coffee beans and the grind. The Coffee beans should be sourced from a local roastery that roasts to order. The beans should be used within a month of roasting maximum or their flavour will have diminished. Supermarket coffee beans just don’t cut it, they rarely display a roast date and even if they do, good luck finding a bag roasted within the last month!

The beans should be ground immediately before use. From the moment the beans are ground oxidisation begins and the coffee rapidly goes stale. This is why you should never buy pre ground coffee, pre ground coffee is stale coffee and will never give a good resulting brew.

Finding the right grind consistency is a science in itself and requires a quality burr grinder. Cheap burr grinders fail to produce a consistent grind so it’s worth spending a few bob on tried and tested one. We recommend this domestic coffee grinder as an entry level model capable of a consistent espresso grind

Gaggia 74517 White MDF coffee grinder

Or a better model like this if the budget allows

Rancilio Rocky

 

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The espresso ritual goes like this

 

Preheat the machine and portafilter -> Grind you beans -> weigh 8g or usually 16g(for a double) of your ground coffee -> put weighed coffee into the portafilter -> Tamp the coffee evenly with 30lbs of pressure -> fit the portafilter -> start the pump with cups ready beneath the portafilter -> the coffee dispenses in 25-30 seconds.

The key to great espresso is keeping as many of the variables as constant as possible so the more difficult variables become easier to control. The variables are the coffee beans, the water temperature, the coffee machine temperature, the amount of coffee, the coffee grind, the tamp pressure, the pump pressure and extraction time.

A good Espresso machine will take care of the Machine temperature if preheated, the water temperature and the pump pressure. We already covered the coffee beans. The amount of coffee can be simply weighed on suitable small digital scales. The tamp pressure may take a little practise to consistently achieve 30lbs and can be practiced by pushing the tamp on a scales. This leaves the two difficult variables, the coffee grind and the extraction time.

These two variables are interdependent, when the grind is right the extraction time is 25-30 seconds. With grinder and beans ready, you need to “dial in the grind” setting on your grinder so you can produce the correct grind level to use repeatedly. This is done by trial and error, set your grinder to fine grind. The correct grind is achieved when you pull a shot of espresso that takes 25-30 seconds from the start to finish. Adjust the grind finer if a shot takes less time and coarser if the shot takes more time or chokes the machine. One you establish your grind setting your set although you will need to tweak your grind every time you use different beans.

With all variables now under control you should be producing some killer shots of espresso!

 

Here are some recommendations for home Espresso Machines. We chose this one because it is on the market many years and has a fantastic reputation. It’s a very solid robust machine with all the basics for making good espresso. It will serve you well for many years at the best price available!

 Gaggia Classic RI8161 Coffee Machine with Professional Filter Holder, Stainless Steel Body

If your budget allows this is a real gem of a machine which again is on the market for many years and has a great reputation. It also has a matching grinder which is of equally great quality and the best price in the UK.

Rancilio set

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