Making the perfect espresso requires some skill and patience. It is a difficult goal to attain as so many variables are involved in making an exceptional coffee espresso. There is also considerable variation between espresso machines. The commercial machines are more consistent and precise. But you can still create a decent espresso at home.
Choosing Your Espresso Coffee
Take your time selecting your espresso gourmet coffee. You should start with a good quality blend that is within 3 to 4 days of roasting so that it is fresh. You don’t want coffee beans that are roasted too dark as they can have a bitter charcoal taste.
Grinding for Espresso
For espresso, you will need a burr grinder since a blade grinder will not grind as fine as the burr (blade grinders are not recommended for any kind of coffee, as the grind size is not consistent enough). There are two types of burr grinders: the conical burr and the flat burr. The conical burr is preferred because the shape increases the surface area and the amount of flavor extracted from the coffee. After 2,000 pounds of coffee, the conical burr should be replaced. The flat burr needs to be replaced after only 600 pounds of coffee.
It is best to grind and dose for each cup of espresso. That improves the flavor and creates the freshest espresso. Grind only what is needed for one shot, dose, tamp and then brew, discarding any unused grounds within 30 seconds.
Tamping is an Art
The purpose of tamping is to create a pellet that allows water to run through it evenly while brewing the espresso. It is a step that is often neglected. The first tamp should be done with 5 pounds of pressure. Gently shake down any grounds that remain on the sides. The second tamping should be done with 30 pounds of pressure. The next step is to continue to tamp evenly for 760 degrees, which is also called polishing.