Many mistakenly believe it is a specific bean or grind that makes an espresso when in actuality, it is also the perfect combination of pressure and brew time that produce the quintessential cup. A good espresso is intensely concentrated, dark and full-bodied but filtered, which distinguishes it from Turkish-style coffee.
In 1903, Italian Luigi Bezzera invented espresso by adding pressure to the coffee brewing process. espresso, meaning "pressed out" or made on demand "expressly" for a consumer, produces a better cup of coffee as it allows the best qualities of the bean to be extracted. Making a proper espresso can be almost as sensual as drinking it. You will need an espresso machine, the best quality espresso roasted beans such as Café Britt, and some important know-how.
First, fresh coffee is ground into the portafilter and manual pressure is applied using a tamp to pack the grounds into a "cake." You can also take the "easy way" and use an espresso pod which has the precise measure and required compactation.
Next, you rely on a quality espresso machine to force water through the coffee resulting in a shot of espresso. A properly brewed cup will have a satiny mouth feel and will be topped with a rich, uniform hazel colored cream without the dark "tiger" lines atop that are present in a poor quality cup. The alluring aroma will encourage immediate consumption, which is important as the complex and volatile liquid breaks down in quality quickly.
- 7 g finely ground Espresso beans
- 1 ½ oz water
- Compact well with a tamper
- Brew 20-25 seconds
- Look for a hazelnut-caramel color
Avoid these big No-no's when brewing espresso:
- Add too much or too little ground coffee
- Not compact well: water passes through the filter too fast and doesn't allow for a good extraction.
- Try to brew 2 cups with just one extraction.
- Leave coffee too long in the machine: over 25 seconds.
- Watch for dark lines in the crema: they add a bitter flavor to your espresso.