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A Proper Guide to Make Espresso at Home

A perfect shot of espresso made at home has its own charm. Follow the guidelines and enjoy the delicious drink in a crystal clear glass.

Espresso is a coffee brewing process in which a limited volume of almost boiling water is pushed into freshly grounded coffee beans under heat. Though its origin is in Italy, in some other southern European countries like Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and Bulgaria, it is one of the most common ways to make and enjoy coffee. It was first introduced by Italian coffee roasters in the 1860s. The main advantage of the espresso coffee is that its quality is similar to that of the freshly roasted coffee beans.

Espresso, also known as infusion coffee, percolate coffee, or simply coffee, is a popular coffee-based drink that is brewed by an espresso machine. Espresso has a rich taste, thanks to the inclusion of coffee beans and strong espresso preparation technique. Though the water used in making espresso machine is not hot, when the water is pressurized to its boiling point, boiling can be seen through the glass window in the machine. Although, this kind of coffee is considered to be among the most flavorful coffees and strong varieties of coffee are generally used to brew espresso.
Espresso machine is the single-function appliance that can brew several variations of coffee and cold brew. There are many types of espresso machines on the market today ranging from inexpensive, $100-and-under models to high-end, $1,500-and-up coffee machines that can cost upwards of $5,000. Though not common yet in America, espresso machine has become very popular in Europe and other countries with an Italian population.

Brewing methods

Unlike cold brewing methods that consist of soaking the coffee in a water-filled container overnight, the espresso method entails brewing the coffee on demand and adding the water when the coffee beans are ready. Unlike cold brewing, the coffee can be brewed during the brewing process itself.

Where does the coffee come from

While beans are the ingredients that are used to make coffee, the harvest, or the process of growing, harvesting, and drying the beans from the coffee plant are two different processes that are carried out in two different ways.
The green coffee beans are harvested from the coffee bushes at night or in the early morning. The beans are collected after the coffee bushes have given off fruits that are ready for consumption. Some of the green coffee beans are lightly roasted and used in the preparation of coffee. The roasted beans are then sold and are mainly used for making black coffee. On the other hand, the dried beans are collected after the coffee bushes are harvested. Then, the beans are left to dry for several weeks. They are further dried in the sun, at temperatures from 110 degrees Fahrenheit to 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
The beans are then packed in bales for shipment. In countries like Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, and Kenya, most of the coffee beans are grown in the province of Cerrado. This is the main reason why some places in Latin America are known for being the source of finest quality of coffee beans.

You can also enjoy a perfect shot of espresso sitting on your own couch. Below is a starter guide for you to make espresso at home.

Selecting the Coffee

The first and most important condition of making a perfect espresso is to choose good coffee beans. There are many coffee beans out there in the market labeled as “espresso.” But you don’t have to necessarily use one of those. Get fresh coffee beans and try to use them at their prime. That does not mean you have to grind beans straight out of the roaster. But depending on the packaging, it is better to use them within a few weeks of roasting and finish using the opened package promptly. These days many quality roasters print the roasting date on the packaging.

Roasting the Beans

There are many approaches to coffee roasting. But the best roasters endeavor to make espresso mixes that taste adjusted, balanced, and satisfying and hold their flavor when milk is added.

Though traditionally darker roast is used to brew espresso, you can experiment with a wide variety of coffee beans; after all, that is the point of having your own setup and brewing espresso at home.

Storing

Many advise storing the beans in the fridge. But we suggest you do not stick your beans in the freezer or fridge to keep them fresh. It may add moisture or odor to the coffee. Why take the risk? Rather, use an airtight container to store your coffee and keep it in a cool and dark place. And don’t forget to use it quickly. You can use a just-in-time approach where you buy smaller amounts frequently to have the freshest and best taste. It may seem like a hassle to buy more often, but it will reduce the risk of having stale-tasting shots.

Measuring the Grind

Using the right amount of coffee grind is important to get the right taste. To measure precisely, you can use a scale to check how much coffee you are using for each shot. Don’t be afraid, you don’t have to keep using scales to measure for a long time. Just use it until you’re certain that you’re doing precisely the same steps, in the same way, each time.

For a double shot espresso, which is about two ounces, use 13 to 18 grams of coffee. But it depends on the espresso machine. Every espresso machine is different. You can figure out your ideal amount. For the infuser, we will say, 15 grams is a standard dose to start with.

Grinding your Coffee

After figuring out the amount of coffee you want to put in, you need to start pulling shots. Dial in the grind size to saturate the grinds. Make sure you dial in the right parameter, otherwise the water will be unable to saturate the grinds properly. If you under-extract it and grind too coarsely, the coffee will taste sour. On the other hand, if it is over-extracted and ground too finely, its taste will turn bitter.

For espresso, beans need to be finely grounded. But if it is too fine, the machine won’t be able to push the water by the portafilter. So try to make it just less coarse than sand.

At the time of adjusting the grind size, let the grinder run for a few seconds to purge it. It will flush out the extra particles that remained from the last grind setting. Otherwise, you’ll experience mixed grind sizes in your next shot.

Pulling a Perfect Shot

Pulling out a perfect is an art! By using the proper steps and practicing them, you will eventually get better. The nine little steps to pull a great shot of espresso are as follows:

  1. Step 1: Put a double shot dose of coffee in your portafilter.
  2. Step 2: Distribute the coffee properly so that it fills the portafilter evenly, otherwise there will be gaps or holes for water to seek through.
  3. Step 3: You can distribute the coffee using your hand, but ensure that you are using the same pressure every time to have the same brewing in each shot.
  4. Step 4: Run the machine for a while before putting the portafilter in place to purge the nozzle where the portafilter is inserted.
  5. Step 5: After that, lock the portafilter in the machine.
  6. Step 6: To check the consistency and to see the layering of the espresso use a vessel-clear glass.
  7. Step 7: Don’t forget, timing is really important to get the best brew ratio. Most baristas use a 1:2 brew ratio for espresso as it is a very concentrated drink.
  8. The standard shot time to gain that ratio is 24-30 seconds. But if you notice that your machine pulls shot faster or slower than that, make some adjustments to maintain the target time range as it happens due to off-grid sizes.
  9. Step 8: There are some semi-automatic espresso machines like Breville infusers. This espresso maker has preset times for the single and double shots. But you always have the option to set them manually. After finding out your ideal timing, adjust the preset times according to that. You can repeat them afterward with the touch of a button.
  10. Step 9: Clean the portafilter and dry it thoroughly after every use. Ensure that there is no coffee buildup inside.

Frothing the Milk

You can add milk if you wish to have a froth on top of your coffee. To enjoy finely made forth, there are a few things you need to know.

Picking up the Milk

Which milk will make the best froth? Well, there’s no right answer for that. We suggest you use full-fat cow’s milk as we think it tastes delicious. But there are plenty of other milk types like oat, soy, almond, and beyond available out there which are particularly made for baristas.

Working with the Machine

To make the froth, fill the bottom of the jar where the spout begins with just about a finger’s width of milk. Turn it on for a couple of seconds to purge the condensation before adding the steam wand in. it will restrain the formation of dribbles of hot water in the milk. Keep both of your hands on the pitcher to steam it. Place the nozzle of the wand near the pitcher wall in a slightly angular position. Lower the pitcher carefully after turning it on. Keep it away from the steam until you hear a hissing sound, which means the air is getting into the milk.

Making Silky Bubbles

Creating a fine velvety bubble is quite tricky, which requires a good amount of practice.

The trick is, keep the nozzle of the machine exactly under the milk surface and maintain the hissing sound to get silky smooth bubbles. If the sound is loud and screeching or more like a gurgle, know that it is going to create large bubbles, which is quite unwanted.

While steaming the milk, many swirl the milk as the instruction manual says, but we recommend that you hold the wand off-center. By doing this, you are allowing the steam to make a whirlpool.

Finishing off Nicely

Push the nozzle up to stop the hissing sound when you feel the pitcher has reached the hand temperature (38 degrees). Make sure you don’t introduce air into the milk after it reaches the hand temperature. If you keep aerating it past the hand temperature, your milk will become bubbly and grainy.

In Case You’ve Messed up

What if you have over-steamed the milk and your velvety smooth bubbles turned into big foamy bubbles? Does that mean you can’t use them any longer? Well, no! you can still use it by coaxing out the bubbles a little. To do that, swirl the pitcher and thunk it a few times on your countertop.

Taste the coffee even if it’s your first try. We want you to remember that just by reading you can never make a good brewing. To produce a perfect shot of espresso, there are no alternatives to adjusting, experimenting, and tasting. After pulling out a few shots, you will gradually start to make them more consistently.

Refine your recipes, keep learning and improving!

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