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Without coffee, the world would be pretty much stuck in a phase of unproductive, inefficient work ethic that organizations today hate so much.
In this article, you will learn how to brew one of the classic coffees with me, an Espresso.
Guide to Brewing Espresso
An Espresso is a relatively strong coffee that is made by using high pressured water with finely ground coffee granules. But making a perfect cup of Espresso is as much hard work as anything else. Before you get into creating the perfect cup, you should understand how it works.
You’re suppose to drink an espresso in a small shot glass, sort of, and unless you’re a quad espresso type of person.
These espresso shots are either independently consumed or mixed with another drink. The brewing process of an Espresso is what sets it apart from all other types of coffees.
What do you need?
The “high-pressure water” part in espresso-making means that it requires a machine to make it. Buying this machine is a difficult task. A great Espresso machine must have a double boiler to maintain constant water temperature, provide consistent pressure and not necessarily “high” pressure.
But you will also need to pick a grinder for your espresso. You need to choose a specially designed grinder that allows minute adjustments to the coffee being ground. More things that you will need before you can brew your perfect mug of Espresso are a portafilter, a dump box, and a tamper.
How to brew Espresso:
Having detailed the equipment for espresso, it must also be highlighted that making espresso is more about creating the perfect espresso shot than a liquid beverage itself. Here is how you go about it:
- Picking Coffee
Unlike what most people tend to believe, your espresso brewing does not begin from the machine. Your espresso brewing begins the moment you make up your mind about buying your favorite coffee and go to the store to get it. Only when you get the best coffee, can you guarantee the perfect cup for yourself.
To brew in an espresso machine, you must have your coffee grounds. However, the coffee grounds for espresso are somewhat tricky. Espresso requires your coffee grounds to be fine enough to blend in the water within the short time that it is exposed to water, but not too fine that they dissolve too much and make the coffee bitter.
But how do you grind your coffee? If you think you can grind your coffee with the same blade cutter that is used in your kitchen to chop fruits and vegetables, you are mistaken. A blade cuts through the coffee, rather than grinding it. Furthermore, using a blade to turn the beans into a powder means that your grinds will not only be inconsistent but overheated too. This causes the color of the coffee to change and the flavor to fade.
So, the right tool to crush your coffee is to use burr grinders. These grinders not only allow for perfect consistency but also allow several different consistencies. Furthermore, with a burr grinder, your coffee is not overheated and hence also does not lose its flavor. Using burr grinders is transformative for your coffee experience.
- Coffee Preparation
The next step in the process is to remove the portafilter from the machine and clean it. All equipment must be as clean as possible. Now place the portafilter on the scale and set the scale to zero with the portafilter on it. That way, you can measure how much coffee you are adding in it.
Add about 19.5 grams of coffee (arbitrary, you can choose what ratio you want) to the portafilter for a double slot. Once the coffee is added to the portafilter, use your clean fingers to level the coffee in the filter. Use light motions on the top of the filter, making sure that you do not apply too much pressure.
Next, place the filter on a flat surface and place your tamper on the grounds. Then apply light pressure downwards on the grounds but make sure you do not add too much pressure. Do not put excessive stress on your wrist.
- Group head preparation
The next step is heating the group head. You do this by running hot water through it to make sure that it is hot and then locking the portafilter with the coffee back into its place. However, once you have heated your portafilter, you must be swift with the next steps. If you do not, the head might burn the coffee in the portafilter. This burnt coffee leads to extremely unpleasant bitter notes of coffee in your cup.
- The Brew
After making sure that the portafilter is securely attached. Start brewing and set the timer. Place a cup under the portafilter and let it fill. This will barely take any time, and you will have your shot of espresso to use with any beverage you want to try it with. But you should know when to stop this process. This is when after starting slow and developing into a stream of coffee, the coffee starts to turn yellow. The yellowness is your cue to stop the process immediately.
But even if the process seems relatively simple with just these three steps, it will take a while for you to get used to it. So, you must not give up if you do not get the right taste in the first few times.
- The Ratio
The real determining factor into the type of espresso that you get and your preference depends on the ratio of beverage to coffee. There are several predetermined ratios for different kinds of coffees, but the perfect ratio is always subjective. If you try a ratio that is high, you might find that the potency of your coffee rises heavily, but so will the bitterness. On the other hand, a lower ratio will ensure that you get the most flavor out of your coffee but will lower the potency. Experiment enough and you can find your perfect ratio soon enough.
- The Cleaning
However, if you think that your job with coffee has ended, think again. You have a cup of coffee in your hand, that when finished, will require cleaning. But that is not all. Once you are done, your coffee machine will also need to be cleaned.
In doing so, take special care of the residue that accumulates, especially in the basket. If not, the puck might not just become difficult to clean later on but can also lead to unhealthy bacteria developing.
A new taste every time!
People tend to believe that trying enough will lead them to such expertise that they could make the perfect cup of espresso every time they try their hand. However, that is only true when you monitor everything so precisely that you can create a science out of it. People that can do that are usually huge chains of coffee shops such as Espresso.
Of course, having a uniform taste every time you drink has its own charm, but if you are not a corporate entity, why not enjoy a unique taste every time. This is to say that every time you make your espresso, the flavor will be different and that is not necessarily a bad thing. The entire idea behind you making your own espresso is that you get a new taste every time you try.
As you keep brewing, you will soon come to make a relatively stable taste every time you try without much of the variance. So, even with a unique taste every time, you get a sense of uniformity in your espresso with time.
Espresso without Espresso Machine
Although it seems that the entire work in this process is being done by the machinery, learning to make espresso without a machine is also essential. These are easy hacks for the machine and of course, do not guarantee a perfect remake of the machine Espresso.
How does this work? You can use different methods such as a French Press, a Moka Pot, or an AeroPress to make your Espresso. How?
Here is how:
1. French Press
Most people tend to avoid making their espressos with a French Press. This is because a French press is said to provide inadequate pressure to the coffee to make it perfect for making espresso. But still, here is how it is done:
- You open up your packet of coffee and pour two tablespoons of it to your French Press. Of course, the better you measure your coffee, the better your results will be. But since we are using a hack for making Espresso, we will not give as much attention to precision.
- Again, we are not relying on exact measurements, so I would write heat the water. If you do want to measure, heat it to about 185-205 degree.
- This is the part where you come to understand what a blessing an espresso machine is. You pour just a little water into your French Press and start stirring. After stirring for a few seconds, add in the rest of the water and stir.
- Then, add the lid and press down with the plunger on the coffee. If you face a problem, lift the plunger and force it down on the coffee again and you will have your latte after a few tries at this.
2. Moka Pot
The Moka Pot is somewhat of a machine to make Espresso too but relies on more manual effort than automatic. Follow these steps to make your espresso using a Moka Pot:
- Take your bottom chamber and fill it up with water. Of course, by this we mean you should fill it up to the notch after which the water will fall out automatically.
- Add in the Coffee grinds in the tube and basket. Since these are relatively bigger than a machine’s portafilter, it will be a little messier than a portafilter. But no harm in actually measuring.
- Go ahead and put this tube and basket inside the bottom chamber where you filled the water. Assemble the Moka Pot entirely and place it on the stove for heating on high heat.
- Keep heating it until you hear bubbling sounds. Once you do and you stop, you will open the Mocka Por to find your Espresso ready in your top chamber.
Our beloved AeroPress machine, it seems, never disappoints.
The AeroPress is the easiest to make your espresso in the absence of an Espresso machine. This is because you do not need to put it on heat or do anything complicated to prepare the coffee grounds.
Here is how this works:
- Heat your water to hot. Again, if you were measuring, I would say heat it up to around 185-205 degrees.
- Then you set up your AeroPress ready for function. You add your filter in your drain cap and then add it on to the AeroPress. Set it up correctly to make it easier to exert pressure.
- Once set up, add the espresso granules in the AeroPress. But wait, no pressure yet. After adding the ground coffee, also add your hot water and mix it with a spoon before you let it sit for around 40 seconds.
- Now comes the part where you add the pressure. Push down on the plunger to pour all the coffee down into the kettle, and the AeroPress is empty. Congratulations, you just made your Espresso with AeroPress.
Considerations for Bitter Espresso
Often when people make their espresso, they find that it is bitter and undrinkable. This is not just the case at homes but also at coffee shops around the country. However, just because you have an espresso machine or know your hacks around the need for machines does not mean you can make the perfect espresso, so don’t despair!
Many people cannot seem to figure what is it with their Espresso brewing that makes their espresso bitter. Well, the real answer lies in the very basics of making Espresso. In essence, the very first idea in making sure that your espresso is not bitter:
- Get good quality seeds and to use the right amount. The right amount is just 6 to 8 grams of freshly ground coffee.
- Another primary factor is water temperature. The right temperature for your water for espresso is between 190- and 200-degrees Fahrenheit.
- You can also work on the grind of your coffee beans to make your espresso less bitter. Use medium grind to ensure that all the right extraction is received with this grind. Just do not try too much at once, and you will be good to go with your espresso.
1. Do I need Special Espresso Seed to make Espresso?
No, of course, you do not. An espresso is not about a different seed but about how you brew it. It passes water through highly pressurized coffee granules.
2. What is “Crema” and is it harmful?
Most people do not realize that “crema” is simply the name given to that light-colored liquid on top of your espresso. It is not harmful and is created in the course of making Espresso.
3. Can I make Espresso without a machine?
Well, the answer to this question really is a yes. You can use several different ways to get your cup of espresso even if you do not own an espresso machine. However, the real answer is why would you want to? The struggle to make espresso without a machine and the resulting taste of espresso is definitely not worth it. So, if you do make your espresso without a machine, do not have your hopes high for a great cup.
4. How Do I tell if my espresso is ok?
Instead of just relying on the taste of the drink, you can also use its color and aroma to decide whether it is made perfectly or not. Golden red color with a strong fragrance is what defines excellent Espresso.
5. Is an Espresso machine all I need to get the perfect cup of espresso?
Unfortunately, the perfect cup of espresso is not as easy to be attained with just a single machine. To ensure impeccable quality, you need to have much more than just an espresso machine. This includes great coffee beans in airtight containers, an excellent burr grinder to get you perfect grind for your espresso, spoons and flavored syrups.
6. Is Espresso good for my health?
Yes! People often tend to ignore that Espresso carries several health benefits. These include long-term memory improvements, heart health improvement, and weight loss, among others.
7. Why does my Espresso come out cold from the machine?
If your machine does not give you a warm espresso, you can try to tamp the espresso grounds more firmly or try to pre-warm the cup. However, in most cases, this happens when the espresso machine is not as clean as it should be. This, again, emphasizes the need to make sure that you clean your machine every time you use it.
8. My espresso machine seems to be leaking. What is wrong with it?
Most espresso machines come with a drip tray at the bottom. This is much like the drip tray that is available in refrigerators. When this drip tray is filled, it begins to leak out. Keep checking the drip tray and emptying it every once in a while.