Espresso may seem intimidating, especially perfecting a shot. Contrary to popular belief you don’t need the fanciest manual machine. There are many options out there for making espresso, either with stovetop makers or automatic capsule methods. Regardless of your method, you should learn the basics of espresso and how to operate the machine of your choice.
If you’re looking for an authentic Italian espresso, you’ll need an espresso machine. A manual machine where you can tamp and brew everything yourself generally offers a greater level of control. Here’s how you can prepare espresso with one of these machines.
- Grind and measure your beans. Using dark roast coffee beans and a quality grinder, grind enough beans to make one or two espresso shots. An average single espresso shot will require between 6 and 8 grams of coffee grounds, although this can be adjusted up or down. For a double shot, about 15 grams. Your grounds should be powdery and fine, so go ahead and use the finest setting on your grinder. If you want to be sure you measured correctly, you can weigh your grounds on a kitchen scale — just make sure to tare out the portafilter first.
- Distribute and tamp down your shot. Once you have an amount of grounds in your portafilter that you’re happy with, distribute the grounds evenly with a finger, place the portafilter on the countertop or other flat surface, and then use the tamper to tamp down on the grounds. You’ll then have a compact disk of espresso in the portafilter.
- Pull your shot. Before you start, run the machine briefly without a portafilter in place to clear the ground head. Then, lock the portafilter into the machine, position your demitasse glass or other vessel underneath, and start your shot. The espresso should be ready after 25 to 30 seconds, but it will take practice with your specific machine and lots of taste tests to achieve shots to your liking. (Some machines require you to time it manually, while others offer different settings.) The final product shouldn’t be too light or dark in color, shouldn’t taste too acidic or too bitter, and should have a fine layer of caramel-colored crema on top.
- Prepare milk if using and enjoy your espresso. If you’re trying to make a latte or other drink with milk, you’ll then need to steam your milk. If not, enjoy your espresso as is! Make sure to clean and dry the portafilter, as well as purge and wipe down the milk frothing wand, when you’re done.
Source: Good Housekeeping