A few tricks for a perfect espresso at home!
Preparing an espresso can seem like a very complex operation when you don’t know the basic parameters or the specifications of each different espresso machine.
In order to obtain the best possible coffee extraction with an espresso machine, it is essential in our opinion to equip yourself with a manual machine (compared to automatic models) and a good electric grinder. Automatic machines do not allow you to have much control over the extraction parameters and they are often very expensive. A basic manual espresso machine with a non-pressurized portafilter, paired with a good burr grinder gives much better results!
Here are some basic steps for preparing an espresso:
- Preheat the espresso machine
- Put between 17-20g of finely ground coffee into the portafilter. *Be careful to use the right grind specific to your machine. The grind for espresso machines is usually very fine, but the importance of using the correct grind should not be underestimated as this can greatly affect the crema and the taste of the coffee in the end.
Apply evenly distributed pressure on the coffee using a tamper (note! this step is not necessary for machines with a pressurized handle, such as the Breville Roma model).
- Brew the coffee for about 20-25 seconds (the final coffee should weigh double the amount of the starting ground coffee). *Be careful not to let the coffee run for too long, as this can bring an unpleasant and unwanted bitterness to the cup. If you want your espresso longer, Americano-style, simply add a little hot water.
To go further: a ratio story!
Coffee is a living product, which evolves and whose composition changes every day. It can also be influenced by the ambient temperature and the level of humidity in the air. That’s why, even if you always use the same coffee, you have to taste the espresso regularly and change the settings as needed. The taste of the espresso should be round, sweet and balanced (i.e. without too much acidity or bitterness). It should never leave an unpleasant aftertaste in the mouth.
In the coffee industry, we often refer to a “RATIO” to take into consideration when adjusting our extraction parameters in order to obtain the best possible espresso.
The ratio is a benchmark of the following parameters:
- the dry weight (“IN”): how many grams of ground coffee used in the filter holder
- the liquid weight (“OUT”): the weight of the final cup with the water
- the extraction time: the number of seconds the extraction lasts
Here is an example of a starting ratio that we recommend for beginner baristas:
Ratio 1 : 2
18g of ground coffee (in)
36g of coffee in the cup (out)
20 seconds extraction
From there, you can refine/coarse the grind and increase/decrease the number of grams of coffee until you obtain the ideal ratio (and taste!). Don’t forget to adjust the parameters each time you change the origin of coffee in your grinder, because all coffees are different. It may seem like a lot of work, but all these efforts are greatly rewarded by the satisfaction of drinking a perfect espresso every morning!