Brewing Coffee as
Espresso

You Will Need

Espresso machine

Ground Coffee

Timer

Scales (optional)

Patience

Brew Info

Ground Coffee: 12 - 22g

Water pressure: 9 bar

Duration: 30 seconds

Ratio: 1:2

Espresso brewing introduced coffee to Australia, with migrants from Europe, particularly countries like Italy, Greece, France and Turkey bringing espresso coffee and espresso machines to our shores.  Today it is probably the most commonly used method of brewing coffee, but it's also the trickiest.

As with all other coffee brewing techniques, making a good cup of espresso is about the ingredients and the recipe.  First you need good quality freshly ground coffee.  If the coffee quality is poor, or the coffee is old, it’s never going to taste any good.  Second, you will need to find the right ratio of grind, water temperature, dose, yield and time to satisfy your taste buds.  It will take a bit of trial and error, but that’s why you are a “coffee snob” – the end result is always worth the effort.

First Steps

Know how to use your espresso machine, they are all a bit different.  Take the time to understand what you have.  Is your machine manual, or does it have some automation?  Does it have one boiler or two?

Make sure your machine has water in the reservoir, and is properly warmed up - including the group handle.

Have a good coffee grinder, and use freshly ground coffee.  Experiment with what level of fineness your espresso machine needs in a coffee grind.  Generally speaking espresso will need a fine grind, somewhere around fine sand.  Makes changes to grind gradually, and accept that some level of adjustment will always be necessary depending on the beans you are using and environmental factors.

See A Note About Grind for more information on grind.

espresso.jpg

The Brew

Remove the group handle and make sure it is clean and dry.  Fill it with freshly ground coffee, either by placing the handle directly under the dosing mechanism of your grinder, or by using a dosing cup.

Using a coffee tamper, push down evenly on the coffee in the group handle. 

Tamping tip: place the group handle on the edge of your kitchen bench; hold it like you are holding a door knob; just use enough pressure that you can feel you are pressing against something.

Brush away and coffee grinds from the rim of the basket.  This will help ensure a good seal when you place it in the group head of your espresso machine.

Dosing tip: the right dose will vary depending on your machine and the coffee you are using, but start with the recommended dose of your manufacturers basket, and make 0.5g changes from there.

Briefly purge the screen in the group head of your machine by running hot water through it to clean away any previous coffee grinds.  Lock the group handle into the group head of your espresso machine.

Commence your shot and start your timer.  After a few seconds the espresso shot should start with a slow drip and extract in an even, thin stream.  If it extracts too quickly, your grind may have been too course.  Too slow = too fine.  When the shot starts to blonde, stop the extraction.

Brew ratio tip: there is no magic ratio, but a 1:2 ratio is a good start.  What does this mean?  If your dose is 15g, then your yield should be 30g.

Taste your espresso! 

Taste tips: a short shot can be acidic, a longer shot more sweet.  Too long and it may be bitter.  Higher water temperature can increase the yield as well as increase the sweetness, while lower water temperatures can result in a higher acidity.