Espresso is one of the simplest coffees to make, yet one of the hardest to master. Though often consumed by itself, espressos also form the base for many other popular ways of preparing coffee, be it a cappuccino, a latte, an Americano, or anything else. Whether you’re a full-fledged home barista or just a coffee enthusiast, there are some simple things you can do to take your cup to the next level. In this article, we’ll cover five simple tips you can follow to get the most flavor out of your coffee beans and brew the perfect espresso.
1) Grind your beans not too coarse, and not too fine
The way your beans are ground significantly impacts how much water can permeate them to extract the aromas and flavors within. A coarse grind blocks more water, not letting it infuse with the contents of the beans. This results in a weak, acidic cup that is far from ideal. On the other hand, a fine grind can lead to an over-extracted cup that masks the subtle flavors inherent in coffee beans, giving you a strong, bitter shot. A ground that is somewhere in between, which is about the size of sugar grains, is the best way to get the texture and flavor just right for an espresso.
2) Use Arabica instead of Robusta beans
Though Arabica contains only half the amount of caffeine as Robusta beans, they are packed with many more flavors and aromas than their counterparts. These beans have been grown in the ideal weather conditions suited for coffee growth, whereas Robusta beans have often suffered some defect in the process of manufacturing. As such, they are of inferior quality as compared to Arabica, resulting in a bitter brew. This difference reflects in their price, as Arabica is also more expensive, but the difference won’t burn a hole in your pocket, and its definitely worth the slight premium.
3) Portafilter tips
There are several things one can do with their portafilters to enhance the taste of their cup of Joe. Two obvious ones are to keep it clean by rinsing regularly and to ensure that you’re using the right size for your machine. Before using the filter, pour some water in it and drain to allow the grounds to be heated more evenly. Do the same with your coffee mugs. Tamp the coffee grounds to remove any air pockets and spread them out evenly in the basket.
4) Use freshly-roasted coffee
Once a coffee bean is roasted, it slowly emits its flavors and aromas with the passage of time. The more time that passes between brewing and roasting, the less of these elements filter through to your cup. No matter how fresh the pre-roasted coffee, nothing can compare to the richness of coffee that is prepared from freshly roasted coffee beans. You can roast these beans till the first crack for a more complex brew, or till the second one for a stronger preparation.
5) Dose your coffee right
The dose of your coffee refers to its weight in the portafilter. This is measured in grams and affects how much espresso is made. Though it can be as high as 30g, the average cup contains about 20g of coffee. This depends on several factors, like the size of your basket, the quality of your coffee, etc, but 20g is generally a safe amount. Higher doses are used if one intends to mix milk with their coffee, while espressos can utilize lower ones due to the concentration of strong coffee flavors.