What is Espresso?
Espresso is a brewing technique, not a bean type or level of roast as many people think. Espresso literally means “express” because it must be made and served immediately. It’s the essence of coffee: fine grounds have pressurized, heated water forced through them to extract the oils and solids that make up coffee, but concentrated into a very small volume.
Coffee Brewing Systems
Espresso Machines use an EXTRACTION system, which establishes a stronger taste and where the oils of the coffee create crema on top. French Press, Drip and Pour Over coffee makers all use the INFUSION system, where water and coffee are in contact for a longer period of time, offering more caffeine extraction but a more understated taste.
The most popular brewing methods
The Autodrip Method is the most commonly used method. Heated water is pumped by the coffee machine over coffee grounds sitting in a paper or metal filter. The water and extracted goods drip down into the receptacle. Autodrip machines are easy to use and to clean. Some come with automatic timers and are available in small or large capacities.
How to use:
- Heat up the coffee carafe for a minute by filling with hot water and then empty it.
- Use a tablespoon of 7-8 grams of ground coffee for about every 100-150 ml (about 3.3-5 oz) of water, placing the coffee into the filter.
- Add water and start the coffee machine.
- When ready, remove the carafe from the heat and pour into a cup.
The Pour Over Method is both a revival and a new trend. It’s a simple but slower process that results in excellent flavor and body. The “Pour Over Dripper” has a cone filter and a filter holder. Coffee grounds are scooped into the filter that rests in a funnel. Hot water is carefully and slowly poured over the grounds and allowed to drip through to a vessel underneath.
How to use:
- Measure the amount of water that you’re going to need, plus a little extra for rinsing the filter.
- Rinse the paper filter with hot water and then discard the rinse water.
- Measure 2 tablespoons of coffee per 6 ounces of water.
- Use less coarse ground coffee for a paper cone.
- Use hot water that’s just off the boil and fill the cone halfway to saturate the grounds.
- Pause for 10 seconds and let the coffee bloom. This allows the coffee to hydrate evenly and begin to develop flavour.
- Slowly add the rest of the water, pouring in small, steady circles to cover all the grounds.
- Enjoy immediately.
Tip: To make your pour-over more consistent, use a timer. It should take about 3 minutes to make a cup.
The French Press Method is easy to prepare and produces a stronger, fuller body, earthier and more balanced brew than the other methods. Water and coarse grounds are mixed, which are sieved away to the bottom of the pot by a metal mesh. Coffee Presses retain the natural oils that paper filters absorb and extract the coffee’s full flavor, giving it a thick and rich texture.
How to use:
- Holding the handle firmly, pull out the plunger.
- Add a tablespoon (7-8 grams) of coffee to the pot per 200 ml (6.7 oz) of water.
- Pour hot water — just off the boil — into the pot and stir gently.
- Carefully reinsert the plunger into the pot, stopping just above the water and ground coffee (do not plunge yet).
- Let stand for 4 minutes.
- Press the plunger down slowly, exerting steady pressure.
- After each use, wash the pot with water and mild detergent and then dry thoroughly.
The Stovetop Espresso Method uses an Italian coffee maker or Moka pot, making a thick, rich, authentic Italian coffee in minutes. The aluminum body is a budget-friendly alternative to expensive electric espresso machines. It doesn’t take up a lot of counter or cupboard space and is great for camping. The aluminum pot features a distinctive eight-sided shape that allows it to diffuse heat perfectly to complement the coffee’s taste.
How to use:
- Fill the base chamber with cold water up to the level of the valve.
- Insert the filter.
- Fill the filter with ground coffee but don’t pack it down.
- Check that the filter and rubber gasket are in place.
- Screw the two chambers tightly together.
- Place the Moka pot on a low-heated stove.
- When the coffee starts to gurgle from the heat, remove it just before it bubbles.
- Mix the coffee with a spoon before pouring into your cup.
- To clean the pot, rinse with hot water and let dry thoroughly.
Brewing Tip: For all coffee brew types, pre-heat your cup with hot water for 30 seconds to one minute which will keep the drink warmer longer.
Follow these coffee rules:
- Measurements: The standard measurement guide to use is a 2 level tbsp. for each 6 fl.oz. of water. For espresso, allow 7-8 grams for a single shot and 14-16 grams for a double shot.
- Water Heat: Always brew at about 200°F/ 93°C, just under boiling point. Anything higher will remove flavors and create bitterness.
- Filters: Paper filters are better than reusing a permanent metal filter because trace oils on the metal may adjust the coffee’s flavor.
- Water: Use soft, milder, bottled or purified water because it has no impurities and alkalines.
- Milk-Steaming & Temperatures: Heated milk’s lactose is transformed into sugars, giving the warm milk a slightly sweet flavor. It also complements a couple of shots of espresso. If it’s overheated, the sugars will burn, resulting in a bitter flavor. Warm not hot, is actually the ideal temperature for milk beverages.
- Storage: Store at room temperature, away from light and in an airtight container. Never store in a refrigerator because coffee dislikes humidity. The oils will congeal and because coffee acts like a sponge, it will easily take on the aromas of nearby foods.
- Tampers: High-quality, durable tampers that are easy to handle in terms of size and weight are best. This will allow the grinds to produce the best shot of espresso possible. Making espresso is all about precision. Tiny changes in temperature, pressure, dose and yield can make the coffee bitter.
Coffee is best in bean form but grinding still preserves the gasses inside the beans. Once these gases are emulsified, they create the toffee-colored foam called crema on the top of an espresso, wrapped in the coffee’s oils. The gases remain on your tongue and release the coffee’s flavor. Always grind just before brewing because fresh grounds will produce a tastier coffee. The two grinding methods are burr and blades. Burrs grind the beans between two burrs, a few beans at a time, into a nice even powder. Blade grinders are effective but not as consistent.