Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Art of Espresso

To attain the best espresso shot - achieving that sweet, viscous, balanced espresso - is only possible with CLEAN equipment, proper grind, tamping (this is a whole chapter) and water temperature. Experience will also make you more comfortable with the machine. When I first tried using the machine, I remember how loud and daunting it was. Once you get used to it, it gets easier, although mastering the details can take years.

Extraction mostly depends on water pressure, water temperature grind, and tamp. Ideally, it should take 18-28 seconds to pour 1.5-2oz. Its appearance should be a cinnamon brown and uniform in color. If it's bubbly and has dark spots, this indicates that the water is too hot. If it only shoots .5oz the grind is too fine. If it could fill a 12oz cup, the grind is too coarse.

The caffeine content of a two ounce espresso is roughly 80mg. An 8oz cup of drip coffee has around 100mg. This figure varies depending on brew method. Espresso consists of three parts. In a cup, it would be the bottom, middle, and top. The base is the bottom and the “heart” of the espresso. It contains soluble particles suspended as viscous liquid. The moving part, called the suspension, settles like a Guinness beer. The top, called crema, is created by the dispersion of gasses, air, and carbon dioxide into liquid at high pressure. The emulsified oils form a foamy texture on the surface.


Espresso blends differ depending which coffee house you visit. At FreshCoffeeNow, I try to keep ours mellow and rich. I've played around with a bunch of different coffees blended in different ways. Now I have a simple blend which I think best suits my taste. Our espresso blend is very full-bodied and syrupy with a smooth bourbon and chocolate flavor.

3 comments:

Dave said...

Joe - seems like an expresso is truly an art! looking forward to my next one...wish you could send one over virtually - oh well - nice writing...dave

Brian said...

beautiful picture! Wish I could do that at home...

Dirty Pete said...

Italy is trying to standardize their espresso...thought you might get a kick out of it since you seem to have your own set of very high standards... keep up the good work, glad to see someone taking coffee seriously.