There is nothing like a nice cup of espresso in the morning while reading the paper or after having a nice evening dinner. In this article I’ll explain how to make the perfect cup of espresso, so you can enjoy your espresso even more. Follow the steps below and create your own home-made espresso.
Step 1: First of all, I’m assuming that you have your own coffee grinder and that you grind your own coffee beans. If you don’t, or you are planning to do so, you can skip the rest of this article because the perfect cup of espresso can only be made by using freshly grounded beans.
Fill your coffee grinder with beans. Don’t use more beans than necessary for the amount of coffee you are now going to make. The quality of the beans will degenerate quickly when exposed to air. This also applies to the coffee in your grinder!
Step 2: Make sure that your cup is warm enough. Usually the cup-heater of your espresso machine doesn’t give enough heat to let the cup reach the right temperature. It’s better to warm the cup with hot water. It’s best not to use the warm water from your espresso machine, this decreases the temperature in the boiler of your machine, especially machines equipped with one boiler. Machines that have two boilers will supply water that is too hot for the cup, causing the coffee to burn when it’s poured into the cup. If the cup-heater of your espresso machine does supply enough heat, be sure to place the cups in the middle, this is often the hottest zone. Make sure you place the cups up-side-down to capture the heat, but don’t stack the cups.
Step 3: Dry your cup, make sure you do this before you remove the portafilter from your espresso machine. This prevents the portafilter from cooling down.
Step 4: Remove the portafilter from your machine. Rinse the portafilter for a very short time (no longer than 2 seconds!) with hot water from the machine. This is done to rinse and clean the portafilter. Make sure you don’t rinse too long or with too much water, otherwise the water temperature in your machine will drop too much. By the way, always keep the portafilter placed in your machine and not next to it, this keeps the portafilter at the right temperature and ready for use.
Step 5: Clean the portafilter and make sure it’s dry, you don’t want the coffee and water to spatter all around your machine. This prevents a mess and it keeps the humidity as stable as possible in the environment around your coffee beans.
Now grind the right amount of coffee beans. Don’t use more coffee than necessary to prevent oxidation of the remaining coffee grinding. Espresso uses a very fine grind, you only know if the grind is good when the brewing water is extracted in the right amount of time. (see step 10) You should use 6,5 grams of coffee to fill your portafilter.
Make sure you level the coffee with your finger and compact the coffee from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock. This will improve the extraction later. Water always takes the path of least resistance causing the less dense coffee to be over-extracted and the surrounding denser grounds will not receive enough water flow and will be under-extracted.
Now use your tamper to apply pressure to your coffee grind. Be sure to use a tamper that fits exactly in the portafilter. Sometimes you’ll receive a plastic tamper when you buy an espresso machine, they are usually incapable for applying enough pressure. Apply about 20-25 kg of pressure, if you’re unsure how much that is, try pressing on a scale. You’ll see that you tend to apply too much pressure. There are also devices available like a Clickertamp, which gives a click when enough pressure is applied.
Press down evenly with 20 to 25 kg of pressure, focusing more on being even than on pressure. Twist the tamper as you lift it upwards to prevent the coffee grounds from lifting with the packer. Gently remove the tamper. Make sure the edges of the portafilter are clean, this prevents problems when placing the portafilter in the machine. It also prevents coffee grind falling into your cup underneath the portafilter.
Put the portafilter in your espresso machine and immediately turn it on! If you wait too long, the coffee will burn due to the high temperature of the machine. Be sure that your espresso machine is set to produce 30cc of coffee in the cup. If you use a small cup, you can lift it up in the beginning to prevent spatters.
Keep an eye on the extraction time of the coffee, the ideal time is 25-28 seconds. If you want you can use a stopwatch. If it takes a shorter amount of time, the grind size is too big. If it takes longer, the grind is too fine and your coffee will taste bitter. In both of the cases adjust the grinding size of your coffee grinder.
Finally check the color of the crema, this has to be brown and evenly distributed over the surface. The crema layer should be strong enough to hold a spoon of sugar for several seconds. The perfect espresso smells like fresh roasted coffee beans and gives a ’round’ taste in your mouth. You’ll often recognize the perfect espresso after you tasted it for the first time. Enjoy!
Thanks for reading,