If you have an espresso machine at home, you might have already realized that making delicious espresso is pretty hard. There are many factors to consider–your coffee beans, brewing recipe, available grinder, water, etc. Most importantly, you should be aware of some best practices that you should always do to consistently achieve the perfect espresso shot.
What is an espresso shot?
An espresso shot is defined as a type of concentrated coffee beverage that has been brewed by forcing boiling hot water through ground coffee beans under nine to ten bars of pressure. Espresso is the base of many coffee beverages such as lattes, cappuccinos, and flat whites.
What makes a perfect espresso?
How to make one shot of espresso perfect? Let’s discuss the components signifying that an espresso shot is good.
Natural sugars are present in coffee. So, you may perceive a pleasant sweetness on your palate once you taste espresso. In addition, it must also be smooth on the tongue and lack any unpleasant bitter, sour, or burnt flavor.
An espresso’s texture is thicker and creamier than drip coffee. Oils should also be retained in the shot. A perfect espresso should never be too watery in texture or in flavor.
An espresso shot is divided into three parts–heart, body, and crema. The crema is a nice golden-brown layer sitting on top of your liquid espresso shots. It is also a sign of the freshness of the beans you’re using, since fresh beans are particularly full of CO2—the agent responsible for creating this foamy layer. When a crema is present in espresso, this does not necessarily mean that the shot is good. However, the absence or lack of crema is an indication that the espresso would not be great.
An espresso shot’s ideal size differs every time, depending on the recipe. In general, we have three standard pulls–normale, ristretto, and lungo or long. Typically, most coffee shops will provide you with normale espresso, which is approximately an ounce.
Tips on How To Make Espresso Shots Delicious
Practice makes perfect–the same applies in pulling your espresso shots. If you want to consistently make delicious espresso, here are tips you should know.
Consistency is key.
Once you find the best coffee and recipe for yourself, make sure you consistently use the same grind setting, dosage, brew, and tamping pressure. This will allow you to always get your desired flavor and experience. Consistency is key!
Cleanliness of your equipment.
Maintaining your espresso machine clean and calibrated regularly will translate to good espresso and well-functioning equipment. Ideally, deep-clean the machine every day with the recommended materials and chemicals. Always rinse the portafilter before you add coffee into it to guarantee that no residues were left prior. Rinse or purge the group heads of the machine before and after use as well.
Preheating is important.
We all know that temperature is one of the most essential factors in the extraction and preparation of coffee. Constantly rinsing the group heads and portafilter will not only clean them but preheat them as well. In addition, preheating your serving vessels will preserve the temperature of the coffee beverage.
Time your shots.
One of the indicators of a good brew ratio is time or the number of seconds espresso is extracted. Most especially if you’re just beginning to learn barista skills, using a timer to ensure you’ve pulled a perfect shot is the best hack. Usually, the perfect espresso shot time is between the 18-25 second timeframe.
Equal extraction means good extraction.
Make it a habit to monitor the variables you use if they’re still consistent every time. Adjust the grind, dosage, and tamp accordingly. You will know if it’s a perfect brew when you see the rich, dark brown coffee flowing out of the portafilter in the consistency of honey dripping off a spoon. Finally, the golden foam or the crema will be visible by the end of the extraction.
Before you use the tips we’ve shared above, make sure you know what you like. Your preference is what will dictate whether an espresso is delicious or not. Make sure you buy the beans that express the flavors you look for. Lastly, if the flavor you get doesn’t really suit your taste buds, learn to experiment with your variables. Just enjoy altering the grind, dose, tamp, and time until you come up with the best-tasting espresso you will truly love!