Learning how to Pull the Perfect Shots for this Coffeehouse Classic
A triple espresso is an espresso drink often found in coffeehouses. Espresso is made from dark roasted espresso beans that are finely ground and tightly compacted. Because of its strong flavor, many people choose to add flavor and/or milk to espresso, but a triple espresso is served with neither.
Espresso shots that are pulled properly and served promptly have a strong coffee flavor with a slightly sweet taste. Shots pulled too long and not served promptly have a highly bitter taste. Learn how to pull the perfect shots for the perfect triple espresso.
Many factors determine how a shot will pull: the temperature and humidity level, how fresh the coffee beans are, the fineness or coarseness of the grind, how hard or soft the tamping is, and the seal made with the espresso machine.
For a triple espresso, you need three perfect shots. Keep reading to learn how to pull the perfect shots and serve a triple espresso.
The fresher the espresso beans are, the more flavor they’ll have and the better they’ll yield to great espresso shots. Always grind the beans just before pulling a shot if possible: this will lead to the best crema.
Preparing to Pull a Shot
Heat the portafilter handle before pulling the first shot by pulling a blank shot (a shot without the espresso). Next, grind the espresso beans and dose espresso into the portafilter, slightly overfilling it.
Loosen the grounds by hitting the portafilter from the side a few times. After the grounds settle into the portafilter, add more grounds if necessary to fill the basket. Once the basket is filled, hit the portafilter on each side a couple more times to settle the grounds again.
On a level surface rest the bottom of the portafilter and tamp lightly down on the grounds. Tap the sides of the basket once more to loosen any stuck grounds, and tamp again, this time harder with a quarter of a turn clockwise to seal the espresso grinds.
Now the espresso should be tightly compacted and level. Remove any stray espresso from the rim of the portafilter by rubbing a finger around the rim to ensure a watertight seal forms against the machine.
Pulling a Shot of Espresso
Now it’s time to pull a shot of espresso (or two shots, depending on the machine). Lock the portafilter into the machine, ensuring a tight seal to prevent water from leaking out of the highly pressured machine.
Press the button on the machine designated for pulling the shot(s), and either wait or time the shot if the machine does not have a built-in timer. The perfect shot is between 18 and 23 seconds. When shots are being added to an espresso beverage, an acceptable shot is between 16 and 26 seconds, but for a triple espresso, the shots should be perfect. The mark of a great shot is a golden-colored froth that separates on top of the shot — the crema.
Pulling a shot any longer or shorter will result in flavorless shots (too short) or highly bitter shots (too long). The shorter side of the acceptable shot range will result in a sweeter, less intense shot.
The longer a shot sits after being pulled, the more bitter it becomes and the more flavor it loses, so be sure to use the shot within ten seconds for the optimal flavor.
Modifying Shot Length
If a shot pulls too quickly, use finer grinds and/or tamp harder. If a shot pulls too long, use coarser grinds and/or tamp lighter. Remember that many things affect the machine’s pressure including temperature, humidity, and usage, so pulling shots can vary from day to day or hour to hour.
Serve a triple espresso in a preheated cup to keep the shots hot longer, and enjoy. Remember that a triple espresso can be an acquired taste and pulling the perfect shots takes practice, so keep tasting and practicing until your shots are perfect.