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.
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;
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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