Fundamentals for “Reaching Espresso Nirvana” – for traditional, semi-automatic pump-driven espresso machines
Note: The following does not fully apply to super-automatic, hand lever, or steam power-generated espresso machines that may operate under different principles and guidelines for proper operation.
Part 1: The “Fundamental Rule”
All of your favorite specialty coffee beverages (such as cappuccino, latte, cafe mocha, etc.) require “espresso” as the main ingredient. The basis for all these beverages is to understand the espresso extraction process. For the espresso enthusiast, this process can become a ritual whereby the aromatic coffee fragrance arouses the desire for the enjoyment of the beverage. For others, the process can be troublesome to overcome and tedious to clean up. We certainly hope to make it the former, and, not the latter!
“Espresso Nirvana” is a result of two identities: visual cue and flavor profile. The visual cue is crema, the golden marbelized “cream” speckled with tints of brown on the surface of the espresso at the end of an extraction. The flavor profile, which is usually an acquired one, results in a bittersweet taste. The crema, coupled with a bittersweet taste, is the epitome of “Espresso Nirvana.”
To many home baristas and new coffee shoppe owners, there is a mystique in learning to extract the perfect espresso. With the appropriate knowledge learned here, you can overcome this mystique and extract high quality espresso in a very, very short time. couple this knowledge with some persistent practice and patience on one of our electric pump espresso machines, you will reach “Espresso Nirvana” very quickly as many of our customers have!
In the beginning, extracting espresso should be considered a science. The science is applying learned knowledge to specific variables attributable to extracting “Espresso Nirvana” from your espresso machine. These variables are:
- The fresh roast of the coffee bean.
- The fineness of the coffee grind.
- The dosage.
- The tamp pressure.
- The brewing temperature.
- The brewing pressure.
Your “Arte” is the experience culminating from learning the “Science” on your specific machine. In other words, you will move up the learning curve to “naturally extract” the best espresso without any scientific measurements or aids. In essence, you will only rely on visual clues to achieve “Espresso Nirvana!”
To start on your journey, one needs the” Science” to progress to the “Arte.” We shall start with the fundamental rule for proper espresso extraction:
- Single espresso shot = 1 to 1.5 fluid ounces in 23 to 27 seconds
- Double espresso shot = 2 to 2.5 fluid ounces in 23 to 27 seconds
We recommend that you learn to extract espresso by always measuring the extraction. We advise that you always utilize the double filter basket that is included with your machine since the double filter baskets tend to work better for beginners. this means that a double shot of espresso should equal 2 to 2.5 fluid ounces and take approximately 23 to 27 seconds to extract from the moment you start the pump (turn on the coffee switch) until you reach the appropriate liquid volume. The timing is the same between a single shot and double shot because the 2 cup basket usually has twice the number of holes on the bottom of the basket. In addition, our volumes our guidelines which we find to produce the best tasting espresso, and other companies may have different guidelines. Now, you may say, that I own a machine which makes four (4) cups of espresso at one time. Now, this may be true. You do “make” four cups, but this is not your typical espresso extraction. In fact, it probably is just strong coffee that does not taste good. remember, “Espresso Nirvana” can only be reached when you extract as indicated above.
Finally, you may read other rules, but we have developed and trained many coffee shop baristas to success in extracting the perfect shot! And, we want you to be on your way to do the same!!!
Now that we have learned The Fundamental Rule, let’s discover The Science, which will be followed by The Arte.