Brewing espresso | Our tips and recipe

by Sam Hookham October 07, 2016

Brewing espresso | Our tips and recipe

Firstly, brewing great espresso is a science, and takes a lot of patience, trial and error, but the effort can be very rewarding and once your machine and grinder are setup it is relatively quick and easy. It is also worth mentioning it can be very difficult to brew good espresso on cheaper domestic machines. If you’re brewing on a budget and want coffee shop quality, we recommend trying an Aeropress.

Feel free to use our espresso recipe we use with our Trio blend at the roastery brew bar which is as follows:
 

  • Allow your machine plenty of time to heat up. Lock an empty portafilter in the group head and run the machine for a few seconds. This brings fresh water to the front and heats up the parts that get closest to your coffee. Then, wipe off the inside of the portafilter
  • Grind a few beans to check for appropriate fineness and purge your grinder of stale grounds. The coffee should clump loosely and appear powdery, but should still feel gritty when rubbed between your fingers
  • Dose 18 grams of freshly ground coffee into the portafilter. As coffee exits the chute, rotate the portafilter so that the grounds settle evenly in the basket. Afterwards, use your forefinger to level the grounds and fill in any air pockets
  • Tamp with your wrist, arm, and elbow positioned directly over the center of the portafilter basket. Focus on pressing evenly, using your fingertips to feel the edge of the basket, then inspect the dry puck to see if the bed appears level
  • Return the portafilter to the group head and begin brewing. To achieve a balanced double espresso we want to extract approximately 60ml of liquid in 25-27 seconds

 
Espresso tips and troubleshooting
How'd it go? Even when you think you nailed every step, sometimes things just don't taste right. If your espresso isn't everything you hoped for, think about what seems off and try some of these tricks. Still missing the mark? Make sure that you're starting with good, fresh coffee and a quality burr grinder.
 
My shot took too long.

Something is preventing the water from flowing through the coffee in a reasonable amount of time. As a result, your espresso may taste bitter. To fix it,
*Dose less coffee OR
*Grind coarser OR
*Tamp lighter
 
My shot ran too fast.

Your puck isn't putting up enough of a fight, the water is just flying through, and your espresso tastes sour and nasty. You’re probably under extracting. To fix it,
*Dose more coffee OR
*Grind finer OR
*Tamp harder
 
 
My shot tastes bitter.

You’re most likely over extracting; isn't it grim! In this case, you got too much out of your coffee, like when you forget to take out your tea bag after 4 minutes. To fix it,
*Decrease water temperature OR
*Shorten brew time
 
My shot tastes sour.

Like under-cooking food, it's possible to stop the chemical reaction that's taking place between coffee and water too early. When everything is in balanced, you'll extract all the right things: not less, not more. To fix it,
*Increase water temperature OR
*Extend brew time
 
My shot tastes weird.

It's not always that you went too far or not far enough: sometimes, water doesn't pass through the coffee evenly, and weird things happen. This is called ‘channeling’ (Gaps in your tamped puck of coffee where water avoids your coffee)
*Ensure even distribution of grounds and level tamp
 
My shot is watery.

Espresso should have a thick, syrupy body, but achieving this requires a correct brewing ratio (dose:yield), adequate brewing time, and fresh coffee. Miss any of these, and your espresso will be thin. To fix it,
*Decrease yield OR
*Dose more coffee OR
*Grind finer OR
*Tamp harder OR
*Use fresh coffee
 
My shot has little-to-no-crema.

If you don't see any crema, either the puck isn't sufficiently resisting the pressurized water or your coffee is just too old. To fix it,
*Dose more coffee OR
*Grind finer OR
*Use fresh coffee
 
My shot looks to be all crema.

Beans that are still holding a lot of gas from the roasting process aren't quite ready for brewing. If your espressos have absurd amount of foam, all that's needed is a little patience. To fix it,
*Allow coffee to rest for a couple more days

Although it may sound complicated, once you have the right equipment and follow the steps, then making espresso can be great fun. If you're just not sure were to start or need any advice or help then don't be shy! We are here to help and are more than happy to talk you through your first great cup of coffee at home!




Sam Hookham
Sam Hookham

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