The Art of Espresso
Espresso - The Ultimate Coffee Experience
Espresso comes from the Italian word for express since espresso is made for and served immediately to the customer. Espresso should be sweet with a potent aroma and flavor similar to freshly ground coffee. The crema, which makes up 10-30% of the beverage, should be dark reddish-brown, smooth, and thick. It should drip from filter like warm honey. A perfect espresso is enjoyable straight with no additives and should leave a pleasant and aromatic aftertaste lingering on the palate for several minutes after consumption.
The beauty is that espresso is volatile and difficult. A perfect espresso is more of a concept than an actuality. If it were easy we would develop a machine that can brew a perfect espresso every time. We need to look at the many factors involved in espresso preparation that only a human mind and a passionate heart can begin to understand and control its complexity.
- Without a good espresso blend you cannot have a good espresso. Coffees must be blended to achieve the sweetness, aromatics, and smoothness desired in espresso. The blend must also be fresh. Ideally, espresso should be used within four days of roasting.
- Espresso roasted very dark is a bitter, charcoal tasting brew. People that know how to blend espresso will roast light to preserve the aroma and sugars.
- The grind must be continuously monitored throughout the day to achieve an extraction time of 25-30 seconds. Do not change the pressure you tamp with to compensate for a grind that has become too large or small.
- A good coffee grinder is essential. Many coffee professionals consider a conical hybrid blade to be the best design of grinders because they last longer, and the coffee is not heated during the grinding process. If the burrs become hot the coffee loses its aroma.
- You should grind coffee only on demand. Coffee must be freshly ground to achieve peak flavors. When someone orders an espresso grind only what is necessary for one shot, you should dose properly, tamp, and brew, and discard any espresso grounds that are not used within 30 seconds.
- Distribute the coffee evenly after dosing in the porta- filter before tamping. And tamp the coffee once very evenly with 5 lbs of pressure, then once with 30 lbs of pressure, and polish 720 degrees with 20 lbs of pressure.
- Water should be filtered. Try filling a small glass with water, letting it cool, and tasting it for off flavors. If the water tastes strange you should begin with fresh water.
- The water temperature should be between 92-96C. The choice of the espresso machine is very important to both water temperature and temperature stability. A stable temperature means consistent espresso.
- The goal is to have a dark red espresso take approximately 25-30 seconds to brew with no change in color.
The key to espresso is to realize that it always has further potential. By changing any one of these factors you can improve or diminish its potential. Espresso preparation is an art that demands the precision and dedication of science.
This article was posted on December 05, 2005