The espresso shot includes a heart, body and crema. The crema sits atop the shot in a thin, foamy layer that should be golden brown in color. The crema preserves the intensity of the espresso shot and contains its finest aromas and flavors.
At the bottom of the espresso shot is the heart which should be a deep, rich brown color. This part of the espresso shot contains its bitterness which provides a fine balance to the shot’s sweetness which is manifested in the aroma.
In the middle of the espresso shot is the body which should be caramelly-brown in color.
Okay, now let’s get to the business at hand, creating the perfect espresso shot, and then you can use it to make perfect espresso drinks.
Determining Espresso Grind Size for Particular Espresso Machines
The grind size for a steam-driven espresso machine should be finer than for a pump-driven espresso machine because the steam-driven machine doesn’t have as much pressure to push the water through the grinds.
How To Make Espresso – Troubleshooting the Espresso Shot
If there are any tainted tastes or an insufficient quality to your espresso begin the troubleshooting process. Check the brewing temperature, re-checking your coffee grinding strategy and make sure there was no old coffee in the burr coffee grinder.
Make sure the coffee was stored and roasted properly. Hopefully it was sent to you in a valve-sealed bag about one day after roasting so it had time to emit its residual gases after roasting before being packaged. Also did you remember to pre-heat the portafilter and demitasse?
How To Make Espresso – Checking the Body and Heart of the Shot
Notice how the layers of the espresso shot begin to separate after about two-thirds of the shot has poured. The body of the espresso shot should not be getting too dark or this is a sign of potential over-extraction leading to bitterness and unpleasant tainted quality to the espresso shot.
Too dark of a body may also be caused by to much pressure during the tamping of the coffee in the portafilter. A third potential cause is grinding the coffee too fine.
Check the color of the heart of the espresso. It should not be so light that it blends in with the body or this is a hint that it is too weak and water. Too fix this you may need to tamp the coffee more firmly. You may also try adjusting the coffee grind size to a finer grind.
Making Espresso – In Quest of the Perfect Shot
The goal of optimal espresso brewing is to gain all of the coffee’s intense flavors that are enhanced by a perfect amount of sweetness. The crema should be caramel in color and exude the delicious aromatic qualities of the shot.
Once you have mastered the proper espresso grind size and have ensured that you are following all of the proper Technical Specifications taking into consideration the type of espresso machine you have, you will be able to fine tune your espresso so as to appreciate all of the coffee’s finest qualities.
You will also be able to more properly assess the quality and distinction of particular gourmet coffees of the world and you will gain a new appreciation for the freshness of the coffee beans. This of course will also motivate you to make sure the beans are properly roasted before you apply the ideal grind.
Enjoying the Crema – The Essence of the Espresso Shot
The thin layer of emulsified oils atop the shot, the crema, contains proteins and sugars as well as emulsified oils. The crema is caused by a dispersion of gases (e.g., air and carbon dioxide) at very high pressure into liquid. The sweetness of the shot is in the crema.
The concentration of flavors in a fine shot of espresso is what allows it to be so perfect for use in specialty coffee drinks (espresso drinks) such as the Cappuccino, Latte (Caffe Latte), and Mocha (Caffe Mocha) without a loss or dilution of taste as steamed milk and foam are mixed with the espresso.
How To Make Espresso – Fine Tuning Your Grinding for Various Espresso Machines
A pump-driven espresso machine will typically use a less coarse grind size than a steam-driven espresso machine since the steam-driven machine does not have as much pressure to sufficiently push the hot water through the coffee grinds. Consistency of grind size will best be achieved by choosing a coffee grinder that is a conical burr grinder rather than a wheel burr grinder or a blade coffee grinder.
Temperature and humidity can also play a factor when you fine tune your grind size and a true barista will understand the subtleties affecting the coffee at any given time and then determine the optimal grind size.
How To Make Espresso – Proper Technical Specifications
The Espresso Brewing temperature should be 190 to 197 degrees Fahrenheit (88-89 degrees Celsius).
The fineness or coarseness of the coffee grind can vary based upon the espresso machine used. The espresso grind is typically very fine, sometimes almost powdery. See Grinding Coffee for Espresso.
The force supplied by the espresso machine should be 8 to 10 Atmospheres, or Bars, which is equal to about 135 pounds per square inch.
The amount of coffee used should be about six to nine grams of coffee for one shot of espresso.
The espresso brewing time should be about 22 seconds and this can vary a bit depending upon the coffee tamping, the coarseness/fineness of the coffee grind and the espresso brewing temperature.
Rarely will extraction time go below 18 seconds or longer than 25 seconds for a one to two ounce espresso shot (30 to 60 ml).
Drinking the Espresso “Solo” and with Ceremony
It Italy the tradition is to consume your espresso at the very peak of its freshness right after it was brewed, preferably within the first thirty seconds. Then when you drink it, make sure to appreciate a sense of ceremony and drink it “solo” which means all in one delicious and energizing gulp.
This is the best way to appreciate the fine nuanced flavors and aromas and the subtle tastes. of the espresso. After about one-half minute the brewed espresso shot will begin to lose its fine flavors as they degrade due to oxidation along with a decrease in the temperature of the espresso shot.
So there you have all the information you need on how to make espresso, and in particular how to brew the Perfect Espresso Shot. Going a step further, you can make all sorts of espresso recipes that will entertain and please your guests. Just master the extraction process and you will be able to brew a smooth and full-bodied, aromatic espresso with a very fine and long-lasting crema.