‘A Pretty Good Shot’
‘A Pretty Good Shot’
Home Espresso Tips to Beginners
Home espresso machines offer inexpensive drinks without leaving the house or office. Once your have got your espresso machine up and running you will undoubtedly want to start pulling shots, but for someone who has not prepared espresso in the past this can be a daunting task. Professional baristas at high-end cafes undergo hours of professional training to perfect their craft and pull perfect espresso shots.This is not a guide to pulling the perfect espresso shot but is instead a guide for the beginner to pull a pretty good shot, which they can then perfect over time. I will be providing you with tips about both automatic and super-automatic machines, since these are most common. So, what is the difference between the two? Super-automatic machines have a built in grinder that doses and tamps the espresso shot mechanically while semi-automatic machines require the user to grind the coffee on a separate grinder and use a tamper to compact the coffee into the portafilter basket before inserting it into the group-head to brew.
Super-automatic Espresso Machines
- Adjusting the grind: Most super-automatic espresso machines will have a grind adjustment on them that will allow for coarser or finer, depending on which way you turn the dial. To figure out how to adjust the grind you will want to have a timer handy. Once you push the button to pull your shot, start the timer. You should see the first drops of espresso hit the cup within 5-7 seconds. If it takes longer than this, you will most likely want to use a coarser grind. If it comes out prior to 5 seconds, you will need a finer grind.
- Volume & Time: The typical single espresso shot is going to be 1 ounce. That means if you are pulling double shots, you should be extracting 2 ounces of espresso. I recommend getting a clear glass cup or set of cups with a volume line on it that has a marking for the amount of ounces. This will help you measure how much espresso is actually going into your cup. For both double shots and single shots of espresso you should reach your volume goal within 24-28 seconds.
Semi-automatic Espresso Machines
- Dose: The ‘dose’ refers to the amount of espresso you put in your espresso basket. Each espresso machine has a different sized basket, which means that each best fits a specific amount of ground espresso in it. The best way to measure the dose is with a scale that measures in grams. Many espresso machine manufacturers will have recommended weight settings for both single and double shots and the inside of the basket may have a line inside, that is where your compacted or tamped shot should line up. If you are unable to obtain this information, don’t worry. Simply fill your basket with an overflowing mound of espresso and then level it off. Then, if you have a scale, measure the weight of espresso inside of the basket. This is a good place to start with your dose.
- Tamp & level: Prior to tamping your espresso, you will want to level off the coffee in your portafilter basket. This can be done over a sink, trashcan or a box that you use to discard your brewed grounds. Simply rub your finger across the espresso back-and-forth and then side-to-side. Consistency and a level bed are your goal. You will need a tamper to compact your coffee grounds. This can be done by holding your portafilter with one hand against the lip of the counter and pressing the espresso down with the tamper in your other hand. You will want to develop a habit of pushing down with anywhere from 10 - 30 pounds of pressure each time, but be consistent as possible, as using ten pounds of pressure once and 30 pounds of pressure the next time will give you inconsistent shots.
- Adjusting the grind: Your dedicated espresso grinder will have a grind adjustment on them that will allow for coarser or finer, depending on which way you turn the dial. To figure out how to adjust the grind, you will want to have a timer handy. Once you push the button to pull your shot, start the timer. You should see the first drops of espresso hit the cup within 5-7 seconds. If it takes longer than this, you will most likely want to use a coarser grind. If it comes out prior to 5 seconds, you will need a finer grind.
Thank you for reading these tips for beginners.