Espresso Machine Brewing Tips
The Espresso Base
- Start with delicious freshly roasted coffee.
- Each machine is different so start off by reading your manual closely. We recommend doing a home barista short course to enhance your enjoyment of espresso coffee making.
- Having the correct grind is especially crucial for electric espresso machines. As a general rule, the coffee should have a consistency similar to sand when rubbed between your fingers. Too coarse - and you will have a fast extraction, resulting a disappointingly weak brew. Too fine - and you will have an extraction of bitter coffee, dripping slowly into your cup. We are happy to advise you about how to achieve the correct grind.
- Fill the water reservoir.
- Allow your espresso machine and portafilter handle to warm up to the appropriate brewing temperature. Remember to pre-heat your cups too.
- Place your clean, dry, portafilter basket under the dosing mechanism of your grinder, and fill the basket until slightly heaped.
- Use your tamper to compress the coffee evenly using 15kg of pressure. Keep your arm and wrist in a straight line whilst tamping. Achieving an evenly compressed, and level biscuit of coffee within your basket is important. It is worth investing in a good quality tamper for this purpose.
- Lock the portafilter handle into the group head and start the extraction process without delay. Coffee left in the portafilter will burn quickly.
- The ideal extraction will leave a golden layer of aromatic, flavoursome foam known as 'crema' on top of your espresso. Too little crema may indicate that your grind is either too fine, or too course.
- A single shot of espresso should produce 25- 30mls in approximately 25 - 30 seconds. A double shot of espresso should produce 60mls in 25 seconds.
- If the coffee comes through too fast, try to grind your coffee finer. If it comes through too slow, grind your coffee a little more coarse and try again.
- Knock out the coffee biscuit from the portafilter into a knock box. The biscuit should be firm and crisp when it breaks.
- Other essential accessories include a knock box (for the grinds left over in the portafilter), barista cloths, a selection of cups, a tamper, milk jugs and a quality grinder.
- Carefully release a little steam from the wand to remove condensed water from the arm.
- Select the correct size and shape stainless steel milk jug, and amount of cold milk for your coffee (eg two cappuccinos will require only 300mls of milk). The jug should be filled between a third and half way.
- Place the steam wand into the milk and turn on the steam. The position of the steam wand in the milk is important for creating particular drinks. To create a thick cappuccino foam, keep the steam wand just under the milk surface, so you hear a gentle hissing sound. For a latte, start with the wand just below the milk surface; when the milk heats to 40 ºC, move the wand deeper into the milk for a thinner texture.
- Afterwards, position the steam wand over the tray, and release some steam to clear the wand.
- Wipe the steam arm clean with a soft damp barista cloth.
- Never heat milk over 70 °C degrees.
- Discard any unused milk.
- Pour your milk into your pre-prepared espresso base immediately. Pour drinks that require more foam first.
- Essential accessories include a selection of milk jugs, barista cloths, and a temperature guage.
The higher the fat content of the milk - the creamier the froth with be. Low fat milk makes fluffy, airy foam; position your steam wand deeper in the milk to reduce aeration. Soy milk also produces thick, fluffy foam, and should not be heated beyond 55 °C to prevent curdling.