Coffee 5 (Espresso)

jake-coffee-seriesJake Uys, co-owner of  YUM Eat Cafe, loves his coffees. He creates the tasteful coffee creations; preferable slow-brewed and sometimes with a time-consuming manual finishing touch. The beans are on his specification roasted at the Beanery in Hermanus and per coffee-order ground on the spot. Every speciality coffee needs its own grind, exact weight, water temperature, etc. Weekly Jake writes his coffee post for this blog. Starting with the history and ending with the perfect ‘Latte’. The first four postings were excerpts from Wikipedia. Part 5 is about Espresso.

Espresso is a single shot of coffee from an espresso machine. Making “good” espresso is an art form, and needs much research and practice to develop the best results. This is only a very basic starting place. For each small espresso cup you need 6 grams ground espresso beans; preferable a freshly roasted as possible (we get weekly new supply). Espresso can be made from a variety of roast levels. Roast preferences tend to vary by region. Northern Italy prefers a medium roast and Southern Italy prefers a darker roast. It is best to grind your own beans; but not with a cheap, electric, blade coffee grinder. These can “burn” the coffee, and it is hard to get a consistent grind. Either use a good espresso grinder, or buy fresh ground/roasted beans from a good source espresso shop. Ask how fresh the beans are, and have them ground while you are there. A good espresso grind should be about the consistency of sugar. Too coarse, and the water runs through too quickly to pick up the proper elements. Too fine (like powder), and it packs too densely and brewing takes too long, making the coffee bitter. Good espresso, brewed right, should not be bitter. Use purified water, without minerals or pollutants, heated to 90C degrees. Never use boiling water. Boiling water stops the process of creating good coffee dead. Not enough heat, and important components are not extracted from the coffee grind. Use the right amount of ground coffee. This is about 6grams  for a single shot (one ounce serving of espresso), or 12 grams for a double. It is about the grind and the pressure used with the tamper (assuming water temp is good) (the water is the easy part) you can compensate for too loose a grind with more pressure and too fine a grind with less. Pack the grinds into the portafilter or group (handle) of the espresso machine using a tamper. A tamper is a flat object, approximately the size of the inside of the portafilter, used to compress the grounds to a density that will create just the right amount of resistance for the water being forced through the grind. Usually that is around 30 pounds of pressure. Again, too little resistance and the water flows through without picking up the needed elements from the coffee. Too much pressure and the brew takes too long and the brew will be bitter and without crema. If everything above is right, it should take 5-10 seconds for the first ‘reluctant hone’ drops to appear & 20 to 25 seconds to create one or two ounces respectively.  Place your cup’s under the group/brew basket (making sure this is seated securely). Turned on your espresso machine. You should see a hazel brown cream, called crema or foam, appear at the surface of the coffee when its finished.

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