So you’ve finally decided to be a coffee aficionado and join the delightful world of espresso. Well, who wouldn’t? Espresso may have to be one of the most intense, purest, and delicious ways of enjoying coffee. Learning how to make a great espresso will make you feel like you’re in coffee heaven, even if the process looks like a science lab experiment. But fret not. This guide on how to make espresso for beginners will walk you through the basics of making espresso coffee so you can begin your coffee adventure as smoothly as possible.
What is Espresso?
Before we begin this guide on how to make espresso for beginners, it would be better first to have a little knowledge of what espresso is.
So, what is espresso? To be short, it’s coffee. Well, a coffee that is brewed under pressure, to be precise. High temperature and high-pressure water pass through finely-ground coffee to obtain its complex and delightful flavours into a highly-concentrated beverage that we proudly call espresso. It is a far more flavourful and bolder drink than your average cup of coffee.
The Golden Rule
The golden rule of espresso making is to pour 60 ml (2oz) of espresso within the 25 second period. This is what you call your extraction time. If the 60 ml extract in less time, then the grind will be too coarse and requires to be adjusted to a finer size. If the espresso is streaming too slowly, then the grind requires to be done coarser. The closer you get to the exact shot time, the smaller the adjustment you need to make to the grind size. This process is what we call as dialing in the grind, or just dialing in, and it will do a lot of good to your espresso to get comfortable with it.
You will also want to pay close attention to how much coffee you are doing and how hard you tamp. A basic tip is to grind 18g of coffee for a double shot and apply a level tamp with around 13kg (30 lb) of pressure to get you started. The tamping pressure may be arguable, so you can do whatever you are comfortable but just be consistent with it.
Easy Tips on How to Make Espresso for Beginners
So, how do you make espresso for beginners? Well, making a great espresso isn’t that hard, but it does need two ingredients – practice and precision. Here are some tips and a few easy steps to get you started on the right track:
- Chose the right coffee beans
- Grind your beans
- Lock in portafilter
Choosing the Right Beans
Choosing the right beans is the first step to creating a great shot but is often overlooked. Since the espresso extraction is a much more concentrated brewing method than other methods, the bean’s quality is crucial. In short, if the beans are of poor quality, then the extraction will also be just as poor. Just like in cooking, quality ingredients are imperative to success. The use of fresh beans that have opened within the last two weeks is important. It is recommended that you get a light or medium roast that is fresh and dry for a more complex flavor.
Grind Size & Dose
The grind size is one way flavour is directed and how the shot’s timing is controlled. The ideal grind size to start with will be a little finer than granulated sugar in making espresso. You need to have a shot of about 70ml (2.5oz) within 25-30 seconds. If it comes out too fast, you can adjust for a finer grind. If it is too slow, and you can go for a coarser setting. You will start getting the sweet spot when you notice the grounds clumping together. After you grind your coffee beans into the portafilter, you can now move on to tamping.
The dose will depend on whether you want to make a single, double, or triple shot, including the type of brewing equipment you will be working with. For example, the dose for a double shot is about 16 to 18 grams of coffee, depending on your portafilter basket size and your flavor preference.
Tamping is indispensable to making excellent espresso. The goal of tamping your grounds in the portafilter is to build a consistent surface through which the brewing water can flow evenly. When the grounds are in the portafilter basket, shake it lightly from side-to-side to distribute the grounds equally and level it off by brushing your finger across its surface. When tamping, apply a firm but measured amount of pressure to the grounds. Do this on a level surface for an even tamp.
Make sure not to over tamp or use too much force on the puck of coffee, or you can create a channeling. Channeling causes a fracture to open in the puck of coffee through which all the brew water will try to flow, creating an uneven or poor extraction.
After you’ve tamped down your coffee, it is time to lock it in the portafilter into the brew head. After doing so, the brewing begins! As mentioned earlier, aim for about 25 seconds of brewing time for your shot. And voila! Enjoy your very first shot of espresso!
We tried to cover just some of the basics of making espresso for beginners, but preparing your espresso shot can vary from a regular, everyday habit to a full-fledged hobby. It’s just all about the time and enthusiasm you put into it. Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed this guide on how to make espresso for beginners and enjoy a fine espresso shot of your own making. We wish you all the best in your espresso journey!
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