Coffee snobs can’t but help but make a complete hoo-hah about how the “perfect cup of coffee” can put a great start to your morning. Well, you can’t claim to be a coffee connoisseur unless you know how to make the perfect espresso. It’s not all rocket science, espresso making is an art that you’re about to learn. In this article, we will discuss just that, how to make the perfect espresso. And, once you get your perfect espresso, your latte and cappuccino will also be perfect because espresso is the base for all these brews.
Steps for Making the Perfect Espresso Shot
Grind the Coffee Beans
The secret to the perfect espresso is to grind your own beans if you want to buy some great espresso beans. And, if you are a coffee regular, then it is best to grind new coffee beans each morning for the freshest taste and the best experience. And, the most important thing is to get the texture right.
If the coffee is very finely ground, then your espresso will have a burnt, bitter taste. And, if it is too coarse, then the water will pass through the coffee too quickly, making your espresso shot too watery and weak. A bit of trial and error will help you arrive at the right consistency. A good rule is to aim for a texture that’s similar to granulated sugar.
Another factor that will affect the taste of your espresso is how much coffee you actually put into the espresso machine. Use around 8 to 10 grams of coffee for a single espresso shot and 14 to 18 grams for a double shot. The exact amount will really depend on your espresso machine and it’s a good idea to check before you actually make one. Run water through the portafilter before you add the coffee. This is known as a “blank shot”, which ensures that you get a uniform shot temperature.
The key to getting a great espresso shot is to pay attention to how the coffee grounds are added. Once you add the coffee to the machine, you must tamp it down. This ensures that the water will percolate through the coffee uniformly and you will get a balanced shot. And, there is a certain way to do it.
First, ensure that you have the right materials. The tamper should fit into your portafilter properly. It may help to have a scale which will help you to figure out how hard to press; however, this is optional. Keeping your arm perpendicular to the espresso machine, apply around 30 pounds of pressure and if you don’t have a scale to measure how hard you are pressing, tamp down on the coffee till the tamper does not move any longer. If the grounds resist a bit, it means you have it right.
If you don’t tamp the coffee sufficiently, then the water will percolate through the coffee very fast and the shot you get will be watery and bitter. When tamping, make sure you press the edges too.
For this step, use a timer or a watch. Ideally, the brewing time is around 20-30 seconds. Place the portafilter and place a pre-heated cup under your espresso machine. Then you can pull your shot. Use 1 oz. of water for a single shot and 2 oz. for a double shot. When you have reached the correct level, check the time. If the shot comes very quickly, it means that the tamp is not firm enough and if it is taking too long, then the texture of your coffee may be too fine.
Getting the Perfect Shot
A perfect espresso shot will be a dark rich brew with a golden coloured foam or crema on the top. The crema is what indicates the quality of your espresso. If the crema is patchy and dark, it means that your espresso shot is over-extracted and if the crema is pale and thin, it means that the shot is under-extracted.
Making the perfect espresso takes time and plenty of work. However, with the help of our quick guide and sufficient practice, you will soon be pulling a perfect espresso shot each time.