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The 9 Things People Do Not Do When Making Espresso


Espresso simply means ‘to press out’ in Italian. However it is easier said than done. Let me just start off with what espresso really is. It is basically an Italian roast (dark roast) coffee with a very distinctive taste and aroma and well-liked by most people who can’t keep their eyes opened for work.

Espresso beans are dark brown in colour and have a shiny layer of oil. Although it contains less caffeine than light roasts due to the longer time taken to roast the coffee beans, it has a very strong and unique taste. Now if you have an espresso machine, good for you. But don’t you just hate it when the taste varies every single day? Don’t you wish that there are simple guidelines to making a good espresso?

Well, frustrating mornings are coming to an end for you because you’re going to realize the mistakes you’ve been doing and you’re going to work at it!

1. Check the temperature of your espresso machine.

The temperature of the boiling water in your machine should be at least 185F-203F (85ºC-95ºC). If there is a problem with the temperature, the heat exchanger located inside your machine may not be working properly and you might need professional help. Do not risk it!

2. Check the water level.

The water level in your machine should be always 70 % filled. Check the water level occasionally to see if water is being replaced after some of it has been removed while making your espresso. If this is not working properly, you might need professional help as well. Do not risk it!

3. Check your pump pressure.

If your espresso is extracted too fast it may be that your pump pressure is not working properly. Check the pump pressure and see if it is reading 9 atm or 132 psi. However, some machines need a pump pressure of 15 bar. Do check your machine manual. Adjust the knob on the pump to obtain the appropriate pressure.

4. Check your machine’s pressure.

The pressure of your machine should be standard atmospheric pressure at 1 atm (14.7 psi). To adjust your pressure, look for the pressure controller and find the regulator screw. To reduce the pressure, loosen the screw and if you want to increase the pressure, tighten the screw.

By all means if you are still confused about the technical details, refer to the technical manual that came with your machine or you could call company’s Customer Service Support.

5. Make sure the grinding blades are working properly.

If your espresso machine has a grinder attached to it, make sure that the grinding blades are working properly. You could check by grinding some of your beans and scrutinizing them. If they are not of equal size, it means that your blades need to be repaired or replaced. Do not do it yourself!

6. Measure the ground

The ground coffee should not be filled more than ¾ of the portafilter or filter basket. If your machine uses pods, then it shouldn’t be a problem.

7. Tamp your ground properly.

After dispensing, lightly level the ground and wipe the grains on the rim of the portafilter. To tamp the ground, I recommend tamping a force of 30N for 1 second first, before tamping a force of 20N for another second, and remember, as you are tamping for the second time, twist the tamper as you tamp.

Tamp too hard and you’ll be grinding the coffee more, making it too fine and making it harder for the water in the machine to seep through. The espresso would be too concentrated and produced over the time limit. Tamp too soft and the ground would not be fine enough, making it too easy for the water to seep through, and in the end, your espresso will be diluted and produced below the time limit.

8. The correct extracting time.

Time is a factor when extracting espresso straight to the cup. The recommended time range of extracting espresso is after 18-24 seconds and the liquid should be dark brown in color topped with golden crema. The perfect espresso is extracted after 22 seconds. Why is timing important? It is because it is in this time range that espresso is not too diluted and not too concentrated. To tell that espresso is too diluted (below 18 seconds), it has reddish brown color as it is being extracted. To tell that the espresso is too concentrated (after 24 seconds), it is black in color as it is being extracted.

9. Throw away expired espresso.

It is best to serve espresso immediately! Expired espresso (14-18 seconds after extracting) will oxidize and the taste and aroma will be affected. Expired espresso will leave you with an extremely bland or bitter taste in your mouth, eliminating the pleasure of tasting the perfect espresso.

Submitted by:

Shikin Roslan

Shikin Roslan is a trained barista (coffee specialist). She offers great advice on coffee and recommends coffee machines at her web log, http://baristacoffeemachines.wordpress.com.





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