What is espresso and why is it such a sought after drink? Espresso is simply coffee brewed at a high pressure, where the water is forced through the beans at at least 9bars of pressure.
Since the factor of pressure is added to the brewing process, every step of the process becomes more important. In this article, we will be walking you thorough how to make better espresso and how to troubleshoot your not so great espresso! If you're reading this article because you want to return your espresso machine, then you've come to the right place!
What You'll Need
- Espresso Machine
- Coffee Grinder
- Dosing Cup(optional)
- Distribution / Tamper Tool
- Fresh Coffee
The first step to making consistent espresso is measuring your coffee with a scale. This might sound excessive if you're new to coffee, but basically every 3rd wave coffee shop uses scales for every brew method. A basic gram scale can be purchased on amazon for under $20.
A good place to start for a standard double shot is 18-21 Grams. Most people start with 18 Grams.
Once you've measured out your coffee, put it in an empty grinder and grind into a dosing cup or portafilter. Espresso needs a finely ground coffee, so start on the fine side of the grind settings and then adjust from there.
Since espresso is made in a high pressure environment, the even distribution of the beans and level tamping is extremely important.
Once your coffee is ground, into your dosing cup, place the portafilter upside down on the dosing cup and then flip them over and shake up and down. This breaks up any friction clumps that the grinder caused and evenly distributes the coffee.
Once your coffee has been transfered into the portafilter, use the 3 bladed side of the distribution tool and press & twist the coffee.
Now that your coffee is evenly distributed, use the tamper side of the distribution tool(or any tamper that you have. and press down with roughly 20 lbs of pressure(just a firm press, don't overthink it)
The Final Step is Pulling your shot. When you pull your shot you want to use a 1:2 ratio as a starting point. This is simple doubling your coffee grounds weight in espresso. So if you're using 18g of espresso, try to get 36g of espresso out of your shot. The other key to this is you want to try to do this in 30 seconds. These are guidelines, so don't be stressed if your shot takes 35 seconds and you get 37g of espresso.
Place Your scale under the group head, place the portafilter in the group head, and place your espresso cup under the portafilter.
Pre-infusion is slowly adding water to the portafilter at a low pressure to evenly soak the grinds before pulling the shot at a high pressure. This lets the coffee expand evenly and helps with even extraction.
(with the Breville machines, just press and hold the shot button for 5-8 seconds to get pre infusion. Once you let it go, it will start pulling the shot at full pressure.)
Once youve allowed for 5-8 seconds of pre infusion, give the machine full pressure and let the coffee extract until you obtain 36g of espresso. Ideally this took a total of 35-38 seconds(with pre infusion) but if not, no worries, we'll walk you through troubleshooting.