Quick Steps to Making Espresso

Steve GSeptember 28th, 2007
By: Steve G

(Page 2 of 2)

The technique of espresso is very complex and requires a small assortment of tools and some coffee knowledge at your disposal. First and foremost, you will need an espresso machine. There is a wide variety of espresso machines available but the pump-driven machine or the piston-driven machine are preferred.

Another important part of the equation is the portafilter. The portafilter is a handle that attaches to the espresso machine. Size and material can vary depending on what type of machine you have. The coffee grinds are held in the portafilter basket and after tamping and extraction the grinds are compressed into a firm puck that is easily disposable.

Espresso usually requires a fine grind with a bit of gritty consistency. Beware, if it is too coarse the coffee will not be effectively extracted as the water will simply move through the porous cracks in the grind. The best grinder to use is a burr mill. Unlike other grinders, the burr mill creates the most consistent grind because of its two opposing blades.

The tamping is a highly overlooked part of the process. Tamping can be the different between a sweet shot of golden crema or a small cup of sour bitter bile. The tamper is metal tool that looks almost like a stamp with the sole purpose of compressing the grounds into the portafilter basket. But how hard to do you press on the basket? The ideal pressure to shoot for is 30 lbs of even pressure. Any hard then that and the coffee is burnt and over extracted. Too little and the coffee tastes very watered down and weak.

After the tamping process, the portafilter is secured onto the espresso machine. The water is then forced through the basket into the shot glass. The brewing time should be around 25-30 seconds for optimal extraction. An espresso shot consists of three parts: the heart, body and crema.

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Articles in Series
  1. Espresso: The Art of Coffee
  2. Quick Steps to Making Espresso
An espresso portafilter with fresh coffee bean grinds.
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