To brew a fine espresso, you need not only aromatic espresso beans but also the right degree of grinding, the right pressure, and the right temperature for brewing. We have collected a few helpful tips for you about the strong Italian coffee classic.
Espresso – needs pressure and more
A cup of espresso is generally something fine. But for connoisseurs there are differences. Just a slightly darker coffee extracted from more coffee bean powder that has been dark roasted does not count as a true espresso. There are a few parameters that ensure an aromatic ‘little black’ with a perfect crema. Some of these were even formulated as a standard by the Italian Espresso Institute (Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano).
- The amount: For a simple espresso you need about 7 grams of powder. Ideally, 20 to 30 milliliters of coffee end up in a small cup.
- The degree of grinding: For the little black Italian to succeed, the dark roasted coffee beans should ideally be ground very finely. Powder that is too coarse results in a flat aroma in the espresso.
- Pressing: For a well-balanced espresso to flow into the cup, the finely ground coffee powder in the filter holder must be sufficiently pressed, i.e. evenly compressed. Experts call this ‘tamping’. This is the only way to prevent channels from forming in which the water could secretly bypass the powder, so to speak, and only end up with little or even an off-flavor in the cup. Depending on the espresso technique, you may have to do the pressing yourself. When doing this, press evenly and firmly with the flat stamp and do not turn.
- The temperature: The water should be around 90 degrees hot when it flows through the coffee powder so that it absorbs the desired coffee roast aromas as best as possible without destroying them.
- The pressure: The ideal pressure for espresso preparation is 9 bar. The tolerance of one bar up or down results in a recommended pressure of 8 to 10 bars.
- The throughput time: The passage time of the water through the powder may last 25 to a maximum of 30 seconds for the espresso to be considered a success. In just under half a minute, thanks to the pressure and temperature, the water can fully absorb the aromas, colorings, and caffeine. If your espresso runs through too quickly, you should take countermeasures with pressure, quantity, and pressing.
Even more tips for espresso preparation
Almost every barista has tricks up his sleeve, which he usually takes good care of. After all, a good interplay of espresso beans, water quality, and extraction technology is also important – and everything can always be combined in new ways. So you may have to experiment a little at first to get the optimum. Perhaps you will find crucial tips for your ultimate espresso enjoyment among the following ‘coffee hacks’.
- The bean: In the past, the classic espresso beans were mostly strong Robusta varieties. Today, Arabica beans with a finer taste often end up in the espresso, sometimes mixed with Robusta. What characterizes espresso beans in general: A dark roast, which allows the coffee oils to escape and reduces the caffeine and acid content of the beans. According to studies, espresso is easier on the stomach than normal coffee roasts due to the dark roast.
- The freshness: Freshly ground is always the best alternative – whether for classic coffee or espresso. If the beans were not roasted that long ago, you have the best chance of getting the full aroma. So it is better not to buy large stocks of beans, but rather more often.
- The water hardness: Often the wrong water quality simply spoils the enjoyment of coffee. Pay attention to the water’s hardness. A pH of 7 is ideal. Too much lime in the water binds desired fruit acids from the beans.
- Water that is too soft increases acidic effects beyond the desired level. A water filter system can help.
- Preheat cup: Some might like cold coffee, but most like it warm. Because the small, thick-walled cups would quickly take away the basic heat from the espresso, you should first fill them with a little warm water and rinse them out. The crema then usually lasts longer.
- The technology: Investing in high-priced technology, such as a portafilter espresso machine, deters some people. Nevertheless, it is considered the non-plus-ultra of espresso preparation. You can also achieve good results with fully automatic coffee machines. With both systems, you can determine the degree of grinding of the powder and the amount yourself, with the portafilter usually a little more individually. Stovetop espresso makers are a cheap solution. However, they only build up a low pressure of about 1 to a maximum of 2 bar.