How To Make A Great Espresso

As with all baristas, I have my own method of making a great espresso. To start with the water must be fresh. Water can be affected by poor cleaning habits, mildew or filtering issues. It has to be the correct temperature, which is around 203F (95C)

For the best quality coffee, I recommend Arabica which is produced in Bogota, Brazil or wherever it can be grown 3000ft above sea level. You can use Robusta as a last resort but it is less flavorful and has more caffeine. Whether you buy it roasted or you roast it your self, it must have that "fresh" smell when you open the container a few days after.

Use a burr to grind your coffee not a blade grinder. Blade grinders chop the beans whereas the burr grinders have triangular teeth on two plates that grind the beans between them. How fine the beans are ground depends on the distance between the two plates. A sand grain is perfect but a powder is too fine and gravel too coarse. Make sure to minimize the coffee’s exposure because it absorbs any odor that happens to be in the air.

You will need a good machine. A good espresso machine generates heat using a boiler or a thermablock and can pump pressure of 9 bar or higher. The thermablock works by heating the water on its way to the pump, cheaper units rely on steam to create pressure.

The process

First, warm the machine by running fresh water through it with no coffee added. This would also flush out the system. Next add your coffee and pat it down. The process is similar to packing a pipe, make sure it still has some spring without scattering the coffee grounds. Place the hopper firmly into the machine and put out your cup. Five seconds after the machine has started you should have coffee pouring into the espresso cup. For a double shot it would take twenty seconds.

To make a cappuccino, heat half a cup of organic milk in the microwave until warm, froth it and add to the espresso. Try nutmeg, cinnamon or chocolate for variety. If you like your coffee sweet, add organic sugar to taste.

And there you have a good cup of coffee. If you start with great quality ingredients and a clean machine, the coffee is easy enough to make.

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About The Author, Melinda Carnes -
Melinda Carnes is a staff writer at Coffee Enthusiast and is an occasional contributor to several other websites, including Everything Gourmet.