Welcome to the Wonderful World of Espresso Brewing!
Brewing espresso utilizes an espresso machine (espresso coffee maker) for pressurized extraction, forcing very hot water under high pressure through a compressed bed of roasted, ground coffee (espresso means “pressed out”).
Brewing a Traditional Shot of Espresso
The classic espresso consists of one shot of espresso (about 1½ ounces), best served in a pre-heated, 3-ounce demitasse (French for “half cup).
What Coffee Beans Should Be Used for Brewing Espresso?
Also see: The Top Ten Coffees in the World
How Does An Espresso Taste?
Espresso Pods and Capsules
Variables To Consider During the Espresso Brewing Process
When pulling a shot of espresso, the variables include the brewing temperature, the pressure provided by the espresso machine to force the water through the compacted (tamped) coffee grounds, the fineness of the grind of the coffee, the type of coffee grinder used, the quality and distinction of the particular coffee, the freshness of the coffee beans, and how the beans were stored, how they were roasted, when they were roasted, and when they were ground.
If the coffee beans are not completely fresh then it is important how they were stored. Another variable is whether the portafilter and demitasse of the espresso machine (espresso maker) were pre-heated.
Espresso Crema – The Essential Flavors and Aromatic Qualities
A key component in the flavor of any espresso shot is the crema, the thin layer of foam, including emulsified oils, floating on top of the espresso. The crema is comprised of proteins, sugars, and emulsified oils, and is created due to the dispersion of gases such as carbon dioxide and air at high pressure in liquid.
Espresso Brewing – Anatomy of an Espresso Shot – Heart, Body, Crema
The heart is at the very bottom of the espresso shot, and its color is usually a deep and rich brown. The heart contains the bitterness that provides a balance to the sweetness of the espresso’s aroma.
The body is the espresso’s middle layer, and it is normally a caramelly-brown color.
Characteristics of Espresso – Concentrated Flavor Qualities and Intensity
The use of high pressure to make espresso results in a great concentration of the gourmet coffee’s chemicals and flavors, and this in turn makes espresso great for use in specialty coffee drinks (espresso drinks) without loss (dilution) of flavor when steamed milk and foam are added.
Specialty Coffee Drinks – Gourmet Espresso Drinks
Espresso serves as the foundation for a wide variety of espresso drinks, the most popular being the Cappuccino, Caffe Latte, and Mocha (Caffe Mocha). (See our complete list of Espresso Drink Recipes.)
Determining Espresso Grind Size for Particular Espresso Machines
The grind size for a steam-driven espresso machine should be finer than for a pump-driven espresso machine because the steam-driven machine doesn’t have as much pressure to push the water through the grinds.
Choosing a Coffee Grinder for Consistent Grind Size for Espresso
Subtleties in Determining Coffee Grind Size
More subtle factors in determining a grind size to produce a high quality espresso include the current temperature and humidity, which might cause a variation that requires adjustments by the barista.
Drinking Espresso “Solo” in the Italian Tradition – Espresso Brewing Tips!
It is an Italian tradition to drink your espresso at the peak of its freshness and with a sense of ceremony by drinking it “solo” in one gulp. This allows you to gain the maximum enjoyment from the coffee by appreciating its rich and nuanced flavors.
Ensuring the High Quality of Your Espresso Experience
The espresso should not be allowed to sit for more than 30 seconds as the full taste will begin to degrade due to oxidation as well as the decrease in the espresso’s temperature. For fine espresso brewing see Espresso Technical Specifications.
The History of Espresso Brewing
Espresso brewing machines come in many forms, models, and designs that have continued to evolve over time. The Illy company has been a pioneer in the field ever since 1935 when Francesco Illy invented the first automatic coffee machine, which was the predecessor of today’s espresso machines. See World’s Best History of Coffee
Easy Serving Espresso Pods – Espresso Brewing Tips
In 1998 the Illy Company developed the ESE Pods – Easy Serving Espresso Pods (E.S.E.) design and standards, an open design to encourage adaptation and compatibility, and with the goal of making home espresso preparation more convenient.
Pros and Cons of the Espresso Pod Method
An espresso pod is a small pre-compacted disks of espresso beans weighing 7 or 14 grams (single or double), and measuring 45 mm in diameter. The coffee is contained within a paper filter. An espresso machine pod adapter may be used to brew the espresso pod, or it may also be brewed in the brewing chamber of a pod espresso machine.
Disadvantages of the pod system include a higher cost per serving, and also questions about quality as compared to freshly ground and tamped coffee. Another problem is the waste associated with the extensive packaging (e.g., mylar film pouches used to individually wrap each pod).
Espresso Brewing – Hyper Espresso Capsules
The most recent innovation of the Illy company is the Hyper Espresso Capsule, designed to work with Illy’s Francis Francis Hyper Espresso machine that facilitates a two-phase extraction process with the goal of brewing a smooth, full-bodied, and aromatic espresso with a long-lasting crema.
Espresso Coffee Guide – The Top Coffee Source
More great coffee and espresso information can be found in All About Coffee which covers all aspects of premium gourmet coffee from soil to sip including coffee plants and coffee cherry along with full descriptions of all of the world’s top gourmet coffees including Organic Coffee, Fair Trade Coffee, Bird Friendly Coffee and Shade-Grown Coffee.
Explore the world of premium gourmet coffee including harvesting and processing, coffee grading and roasting, coffee grinding and packaging, coffee storing, brewing, and all about the coffee beverage itself including Espresso.
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