Quick Recipes and Easy

Espresso Making is an Art Form – Here’s How to Make a Great Cup!

Ever wondered what the secrets are to making an Espresso as excellent as the coffee house baristas do? Well stay with me a while and I will give away some of their trade secrets so you too can master the art of making a fantastic cup of espresso.

The most vital ingredient in making a excellent tasting espresso is to use pure fresh filtered or rain water. Regardless of what quality coffee grounds you use it won’t override the associated taste of poor water. For most of us chlorine and other chemicals in our tap water will place us at a real disadvantage. It might surprise some to know water can get stale so make sure it hasn’t been sitting around in plastic containers or in the fridge for too long before you use it.

To make a new brew of espresso remember to use very hot water with an optimum temperature of around 203F (95C) or nearly boiling water. If you don’t want to get too technical using a thermometer, just switch the jug off as the water is starting to boil and then count to ten. That has always worked for me.

Of course the next most vital ingredient is the coffee. These days there is an abundance of choice and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. I like to be a small adventurous and try coffees from different countries all over the world. Each one has its own unique flavour. Some I like and some I don’t go back for a second go.

One of my favorites is Arabica coffee which comes from the high country in Brazil or Bogota. Some people like to roast the green beans themselves while others are content to buy them freshly roasted. Either way it is vital to make sure the beans are fresh and have a excellent aromatic smell to them.

Also Robusta is one you might like to try. This variety has more caffeine but is a small less full bodied flavour than Arabica. Generally it should be used for those quick pick-me-up cups but it’s not at all suitable for an espresso that is to be savoured.

Once you start exploring different types of coffee, blending is something you might like to try your hand at. A blend of 70% Arabica and 30% Robusta is a fantastic favorite of mine because it takes away the heavy chocolate taste of the Arabica and gives a mellower and more creamy texture to the brew. Women more often delight in this blend as it is milder in flavor and is not such an assault on the taste buds. In Australia you can find this blend already ground in the MAP brand (red packet).

From personal experience let me tell you adding a grinder to your kitchen appliances will open up a whole world of espresso coffee tasting for you. Being able to buy beans of any type and bring them home and finely grind them yourself is essentially a defining experience.

Another vital point is that the quality of the espresso machine you buy will of course affect the quality of the espresso coffee it produces. Here I should remind you to look for a machine that is simple to clean and maintain as well as one that generates heat by boiler or thermoblock and is capable of producing pump pressure of 9 bar or better. A thermoblock heats water as it passes through the machine on the way to the pump. For a really professional and satisfying brew it is best to avoid the cheaper units that rely on steam to make pressure.

Now that we know all that we are ready to make a top cup of espresso. For the best results pre-warm the equipment by running clean water through the machine is a excellent thought. Then when you turn the machine on, let the water heat, before running a cup through with no coffee to warm the surfaces and flush the system.

Next you can add the freshly ground espresso roast and then tamp it down slightly with the back of a spoon, just like you would in a tobacco pipe till you feel some springiness – but the coffee shouldn’t scatter about.

Then place the hopper in the machine and place a warmed espresso cup at the outlet. Now comes the excellent part, start the machine and in about five seconds you will have a steady stream of gorgeous espresso coffee. For a double shot it will take about 20 seconds to complete.

Making cappuccino is simple this way as all you have to do is warm half a cup of milk in the microwave for about 90 seconds, froth it with the wand and add it to the espresso. If you are like me and like the froth use full cream milk rather than reduced stout milk as it froths better. To make it just like a bought one, sprinkle some cinnamon over the top. But if you really want to make a sensation you could shave some chocolate or sprinkle cocoa on the top. For the sweet tooth you will probably need a teaspoon of sugar.

In a nutshell the secret to making a excellent cup of espresso at home that tastes just like one from your favourite coffee shop is to start with excellent quality coffee, keep your equipment nice and clean, use fresh water, don’t burn the roast and make sure you grind it properly.

Delight in.

Author John is the webmaster at thecoffeebrew.com thecoffeebrew.com and there you will learn many more fascinating facts, hints and tips about the coffee culture. If coffee is your preferred brew then why not take a look right now.

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