The Beginner’s Brew – How to Make The Perfect Espresso
Have you ever wondered why your local barista just seems to have a way with coffee that you can’t seem to emulate? If so, you’re certainly not alone. A lot goes into the coffee making process, and there’s more to a perfect espresso than meets the eye. So, if you’ve just rented an office coffee machine and are looking to get the most out of it, here are a few tips on how to make the perfect espresso.
Prepare Your Portafilter
A dirty portafilter is the fastest way to ruin a perfectly good shot of espresso. The portafilter sometimes referred to as a coffee wand, is where your coffee grinds are placed before being inserted into your coffee machine. Because of this, it’s easy for old coffee grinds to stick to the inside if improperly washed. So, before starting, be sure that your portafilter is entirely clean and free of grinds.
Determine Your Dosage
Often, grinders will have a preset dosage which will make this step significantly easier. However, if you’re trying to learn how to make the perfect espresso manually, then things get a little less intuitive. It may take some testing to get it just right, but you need to find the perfect amount of coffee for your portafilter, which is generally a pile of grinds that tops out just below the rim.
This is a very important step, as the amount of coffee you place into your portafilter, along with how tightly they’re tamped, will determine if your espresso is under-extracted (too watery and flavourless), over-extracted (too thick and/or burnt) or just right. However, between those two steps…
Distribute Your Grounds
Naturally, your grinder is going to dump grinds into the portafilter in a shape more closely resembling an asymmetrical mountain than the smooth plateau that you desire. So, before you tamp your grinds, it’s important to shake your grinds into a more consistent, flat surface. That way, you avoid having more densely-packed coffee in some areas than others.
It’s Time for Tamping
Over the course of this article on how to make the perfect espresso, we’ve spent a considerable amount of time talking about “tamping”. If that word doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry, it isn’t a word often used outside the discussion of coffee, gunpowder, or the language of Welsh. In short, tamping simply means “to pack something down firmly”, and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing with your coffee.
Tamping is used to keep your coffee grinds levelled and remove any air pockets for your water to sneak through. When tamping, make sure that you are pushing your tamper down on your coffee grinds in a levelled horizontal motion. This will avoid an uneven surface that can lead to under-extraction.
The generally-touted strength you’re supposed to use for this is around 20kg of pressure. However, I would be awestruck by anyone who could reliably and consistently push down with exactly 20kg of pressure with no indication of whether or not you’re hitting that mark. In other words, it will take some time to find the exact pressure to use, but just remember that excessive force is unnecessary. The use of tamping is to level the surface and remove air pockets, not to ensure that your coffee grinds fuse with the portafilter.
Begin the Brewing
Once you’ve twisted your portafilter in, made sure it’s in tight, and put your cup underneath, it’s time to immediately begin the brewing process. Make sure to avoid having your portafilter in the machine without brewing for too long, as the heat from the machine could potentially burn your grinds before your water even touches them.
Once you’ve pressed your brewing button, pay attention to the coffee coming out of your portafilter. As it continues to pass through your grinds, your coffee will slowly turn from a rich, dark colour to something more resembling weak tea. Once your coffee starts to become thinner, stop the machine, as this will avoid you drinking what is essentially coffee-scented water.
There you have it – our guide on how to make the perfect espresso! If you’d like to learn more coffee secrets and brewing tips, stay up-to-date with the Corporate Coffee Solutions blog. For those that are looking to hire their own premium office coffee machine, explore our range today!