Brewing Espresso

As Americans knowledge of worldwide “espresso culture” continues to grow, so too does the demand for espresso. This concoction, the base for many of the “foo foo” drinks consumed, is a tricky beast where the stubborn coffee and lazy water need to be tamed to pull a great shot of espresso. With a few simple techniques and a bit of concerted attention, the beast is pressed into a swirling emulsion of sugars and goodness.

The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) defines espresso as 30-40 ml (1.5 oz) beverage prepared from 7-9 grams of coffee, through which clean water of 192 – 198 F has been forced at 9-10 atmospheres (130 psi) of pressure, and the grind of coffee has made the brewing “flow” time approximately 20-25 seconds. While brewing, the flow of the espresso will appear to have the viscosity of warm honey and the resulting beverage will exhibit a thick, dark, golden-red, creamy foam or “crema.” Espresso is usually prepared specifically for, and immediately served to its intended consumer.

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With Espresso, use the 4 M’s

La Macchina – the machine
La Miscela – the blend
Il Macinadosatore – the grinder/doser
La Mano – the hand that makes the drink
All are interrelated to the final cup;

  • Be sure the machine is well cleaned, hot, and has the correct pump pressure output.
  • The blend will be somewhat a matter of taste, which is why Cafe Moto has several different blends.
  • The grinding blades or burrs must be checked periodically for sharpness, as dull blades or burrs can burn the coffee during grinding.
  • A conscientious barista will adhere to the following steps and make the necessary changes and modifications.
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10 Steps to Espresso

  1. Preheat the espresso cup.
  2. Fill the espresso basket with fresh ground coffee from the grinder/doser.
  3. Tamp the grounds firmly and wipe the rim of the filter basket.
  4. Momentarily flush the grouphead and fix the portafilter to the machine.
  5. Start the pump and brewing of the machine.
  6. Observe the flow for quality characteristics. Stop the pump at the appropriate extraction level/time.
  7. Serve the espresso.
  8. Unfix the portafilter handle and knock out the spent grounds.
  9. Rinse or wipe the filter basket.
  10. Reaffix the portafilter handle to the machine to remain hot.

If the espresso pours fast, adjust to a finer grind. If the espresso pours too slow or intermittently, adjust to a coarser grind. Continue to observe the extraction throughout the day, as humidity affects the espresso. Adjust as needed.


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