Making really, good espresso is tough. You need to put in lots of time, learning and patience to get the best results. You’re going to need freshly roasted, quality coffee. Not to mention a good machine and decent grinder. You’ll also need to be accurate, passionate and keep your mind and equipment clean to get the results.
1. Grab your favourite coffee cup and warm it up, your machine may have a cup warmer or hot water tap. We do this because coffee does not like surprises when it comes to temperature, particularly espresso.
2. Next, take out your portafilter handle (group handle). Make sure it’s clean, warm and dry
3. Purge the shower screen. Running water through for a few seconds will ensure the water temperature is spot on and clean for the next shot or coffee.
4. It’s time to grind your coffee beans. Investing in a really good quality burr grinder is the perhaps most important step in producing great coffee. Your particle size for espresso should be fine, not course.
5. Grind the coffee into the portafilter and distribute the grounds as evenly possible. The size of your basket will vary depending on your machine.
6. Tap your dosed group handle once or twice on the forks of your grinder or bench top. This helps settle the grounds in the basket and assure there are no weak points or air pockets in your basket.
7. Make a pointy finger with your free hand and gently sweep your finger across the basket once or twice to level the coffee (you can also use the back edge of a knife if this step is too hard). You don’t need to apply any pressure at this point.
8. Ok, time to tamp. Make sure your tamper is a perfect match for your basket size (no more than 1/2mm gap around the edges). The tampers supplied with machines are often cheap, so you might consider investing in a professional one. Now, grasp the tamper and press down on the basket, making sure it’s flat and even.
9. You want to apply about 15kg of downward force, which is a difficult concept and not something you do every day. This can be shown to you by your coffee supplier in order to get it right every time J
10. Ok you’re ready, cup’s ready, coffee’s ready, time to make coffee. Insert the portafilter and press “go”. Watch your extraction, it should begin with a drip, not a gush or spurt, the drip will build to a gentle stream. The extraction from start to finish should be between 25 -30 seconds (of course depending on the size of coffee you are making).
11. Now taste. Have a look at your puck (the coffee in the basket). Wet? mushy? You may have under dosed. Dry? hard? You’ve probably over packed. Try again and don’t forget 9/10 times if there is a problem it is user error. For the 1/10 times you know your spot on Adjust your grind finer. To slow? Adjust coarser…Too fast? Adjust finer…
12. Enjoy your coffee!