Espresso is a shot sized serving of intensely flavoured coffee. There are many different types of espresso-based drink such as Latte Macchiato, Caffe Latte, Cappuccino and Mochaccino all of which are produced using a single or double shot of espresso.
Traditional espresso machines have long been synonymous with providing the ultimate coffee experience. These machines combine theatre with the artistry of a Barista to create exceptional espresso and espresso-based drinks. But what makes the perfect espresso?
There are several variables involved in the quest to produce the ultimate espresso. If any one of these factors is not correct the resulting espresso will not be as it should be. An experienced Barista has the knowledge and skill to adjust variables accordingly ensuring espresso is always at its best. The key aspects requiring close monitoring when producing espresso include; coffee freshness, water purity, the grind, tamp, temperature and pour.
As with any recipe, an espresso will only ever be as good as the ingredients it was prepared with. You would never make a cake with eggs which were past their best would you? It’s the same when making espresso; fresh coffee is the essential ingredient for producing optimal flavour, aroma and crema.
Always ensure your water is pure by fitting your commercial espresso machine with a high quality water filter. A water filtration system will remove any impurities and reduce hardness of water quality.
A crucial element in the anatomy of the perfect shot is the coffee grind. The root of all espresso, the grind is of paramount importance. Coffee beans should be ground freshly for every espresso to ensure optimal results. A perfect grind is around 7g of finely ground coffee. There is a fine line when it comes to the perfect grind however, a grind that is too fine will allow a rapid flow of water through resulting in over extraction of espresso. A grind that is too coarse will not allow enough water through the coffee puck resulting in under extracted espresso. A high-grade commercial coffee grinder is an essential tool to ensure consistency in grind.
Another key factor, the tamp can make or break your espresso shot. Tamping produces a flat compacted pellet of coffee through which the water can permeate evenly. An uneven coffee tamp produce an uneven espresso extraction.
Water temperature is another point that should be closely monitored during brewing. The optimal brewing temperature is between 190 and 205 degrees. Water should be just below boiling temperature. Espresso will taste bitter and scorched if water is too hot and will taste bland when water is too cool.
Espresso extraction should take between 20-30 seconds. The flow should be steady and resemble a pint of Guinness in the way that it settles. The perfect shot should be 1oz of deep reddish brown coloured liquid crowned with a caramel coloured layer of cream. Always serve espresso immediately after extracting, the longer espresso stands the more the quality degrades.