Espresso is a caffeine drink that has become the favorite of many coffee lovers. But some coffee lovers cannot stand the taste of it. However, there are more espresso lovers today than there are regular coffee drinkers. In Europe, especially in Italy where coffee lovers originally learned how to make espresso, espresso is the main coffee drink. For the personal touch, there are several ways how to make an espresso.
There are plenty of reasons why people love to drink espresso over other coffee drinks such as the traditional coffee brewed through the drip process. Coffee enthusiasts prefer espresso over other coffee drinks because of the taste. Espresso has more flavor than regular coffee. Espresso lovers prefer it over other coffee drinks not only because it is thicker but also because of its foam or crema that sits on top of the coffee drink.
What is espresso? Espresso is a unique coffee drink because it has different variations available, such as Americano, Alexandrino, Affogato, Breve, and Café Bonbon. Depending on what part of the world you will drink espresso, you will discover that there are over twenty variations of the drink.
One serving of espresso, called an espresso shot, packs a lot of flavor and ingredients. Espresso has more caffeine per ounce to make it a perfect start or end of the day.
The preparation of espresso is what sets it apart from other coffee drinks. Traditional brewing of coffee takes time as they rely on the slow process of filtering hot water through the coffee grounds. Brewing regular coffee takes several minutes, which means you have to wait a while before you can take your first sip of the brew in the morning.
Espresso is made using an espresso coffee machine. An espresso machine is pressurized, shooting near-boiling water through packed finely ground coffee beans. This brewing method produces an aromatic, complex, and caffeine-packed shot of coffee in under thirty seconds.
An espresso machine is a fancy machine that may cost you hundreds of dollars for a top of the line model. However, getting an espresso shot does not always necessitate a fancy machine. An espresso machine makes preparation more accurate and easier, but there are ways of preparing an espresso without an espresso machine.
There are Variables to Consider when Making Coffee of any kind, with some of them unique to Espresso only
- Water - Your coffee drink tastes as good as the water that you use. Water that contains unwelcomed minerals, scale, and sediment will ensure that you will not make good coffee even if you have the best equipment. Check the quality of your water either by checking with the local water source about its content or getting an inexpensive test water kit. If your water quality does not meet the standards of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, you can simply use a carbon filter to eliminate the nasty stuff in your coffee water.
- Coffee grounds - Coffee beans need to be converted to small, fine pieces before brewing. Espresso uses a finer grind that other methods of brewing coffee. The coffee grounds to make an espresso should be as fine as table salt. You will know that you have the perfect grounds for an espresso when the coffee begins to form a clump.
- Dose - To make a double shot of espresso, you will need between 18 and 21 grams of finely ground coffee. You can increase the body and intensity of your shot by adding more coffee. Adjust the dose of your coffee grounds according to the taste that you want to make.
- Tamp - Coffee grounds should be compacted using a tamper. This will restrict the flow of water and force the coffee and water to interact.
- Water temperature - Water for the preparation of espresso needs to be heated to 195 - 205°F.
- Yield - In making espresso, the yield is measured by coffee input and beverage output. Aim to get a yield of 2 ounces of espresso to fill a large shot glass.
- Time - Espresso should be produced within 25 t0 30 seconds from the beginning of extraction to the moment when the glass is full.
Ideally, having an espresso machine is the best way of making an espresso shot. However, there are other ways of making an espresso shot without having to use an espresso machine. The following are the common methods of making an espresso shot minus the espresso machine:
- The AeroPress
- The Moka Pot
- The French Press
You can make espresso using any of the three methods as long as you have some basic tools such as:
How to Make an Espresso - A Comprehensive Guide
Even without an espresso machine, you will not be able to make espresso without proper equipment. There are several ways of making the closest thing to an espresso shot using the following equipment:
Utilizing the AeroPress
The difference between brewing a regular cup of coffee and an espresso shot is pressure. The AeroPress is a good option for approximating espresso. The product of an AeroPress will differ in texture from the espresso made by a fancy machine, but the caffeine content and flavor of an AeroPress espresso is almost similar to what an espresso machine produces.
To make espresso using an AeroPress, you will need these basic tools: AeroPress, coffee beans, grinder, tablespoon or scale.
You can make espresso using AeroPress through the following steps:
1. Place a filter or two inside the drain cap to slow the water flow when pressing. Rinse the filter and place the drain cap and filter in the compartment. Put the press on a stable mug or cup.
2. Finely grind about 2 tablespoons of coffee to salt-like consistency. Put the coffee grounds into the filter. You can add more coffee to create a more concentrated shot.
3. Add about 3 ½ ounces of water, heated to 200°F. Stir with the coffee. Press down hard on the plunger. Transfer your espresso shot into a demitasse and enjoy your version of an espresso.
Utilizing the Moka Pot
Use this tiny kettle to produce an espresso-like drink that will put some spring in your step. You will get a drink that is neither espresso nor coffee, but it will be very satisfying.
To make an espresso-like drink using the Moka pot, you will need a Moka pot, fine coffee grounds, and a tablespoon or scale.
You can make an espresso-like drink using the Moka pot by doing the following steps:
1. Get about 20 to 22 grams of coffee beans. Grind the beans as finely as possible.
2. Pour 3 ½ ounces of water into the pot. Load the coffee grounds into the filter. Shake the pot to let the grounds settle. Screw on the top of the Moka pot and put it on top of the stove that is set to medium heat.
3. Wait for the coffee to expand until you see foam forming on the upper level of the pot. The hot water will create the pressure needed to produce concentrated coffee and some foam. Pour the coffee into a demitasse and enjoy your espresso-like brew.
Utilizing French Press
The French press is capable of giving you a concentrated brew if you will use it correctly. The coffee shot that you will produce will be a little bit oily and less concentrated than the brew produced by the other two methods.
To make an espresso-like brew, you will need a French press, coffee grounds, kettle, and a tablespoon or scale.
Make an espresso-like brew by doing the following steps:
1. Grind two tablespoons of coffee bean on a fine setting. You can add more coffee if you want.
2. Heat 1 cup of water to almost 200°F in your kettle. Add the coffee grounds to your French press.
3.Let your coffee bloom by adding a splash of hot water. Soak the grounds for about 30 seconds.
4. Pour the rest of the hot water over the grounds. Close the lid of the French press and steep the coffee for about 4 minutes.
Grinding and Measuring Coffee
The quality of your espresso shot is largely determined by the amount of coffee that you will use. When you use an espresso machine, the volume of coffee will depend on the size of your portafilter basket, which normally fits 18 t0 25 grams of ground coffee. You need to confirm first the capacity of your portafilter before you start grinding your coffee.
When using the other methods of making an espresso-like drink, you can still stick to the standard coffee volume of an espresso machine. Whether you are using AeroPress, Moka pot, or French press, it will be safe to start from 22 grams of coffee. You can slowly increase your coffee volume depending on the quality of drink that you will produce. You can either add or deduct the amount of coffee volume based on the kind of taste and flavor you want your coffee drink to be.
General Tips about Espresso
Delicious and flavorful espresso begins with an understanding of the steps necessary in learning how to make an espresso. Like any culinary activity, creating great espresso drinks will require that the barista or the person preparing espresso will manipulate some of the variables that will impact the product.
Every culinary activity requires technique. You can be a professional barista or an amateur maker of espresso drinks at home, but you must develop your proper technique for your craft. An espresso machine is not a simple plug-and-play machine that will create the same quality of brew each time you push the start button.
Espresso has the same basic ingredients although people can add some choice ingredients such as milk, mocha syrup, and others. Even when a barista uses the same ingredients, the espresso drink produced is always different from the rest. Some factors that will differentiate one espresso shot from another is the way the beans were roasted, the ratio of water to coffee, and the time it takes for your machine or device to extract the shot. Don’t forget the temperature of the water. A few degrees of difference in the water temperature can greatly impact the taste and flavor of the espresso.
Keep Fine-Tuning your Skills
Once you have mastered the art of brewing espresso, you should not stop there. You have to continue fine-tuning your skills of how to make an espresso until you reached the perfection that you desire.
A perfect espresso shot is something hard to define. It depends on the taste of the person enjoying the drink. A person who has mastered the art of pulling an espresso shot will have an ever-changing taste for coffee. He might be happy with the espresso he drinks in one day but there is no limit to improvements.
The challenge to a barista or any person pulling an espresso shot is to keep on improving his craft.
Advantages of Real Espresso Machines
While there are a few methods of crafting espresso without an espresso machine, the drink that is produced is classified as near-espresso or espresso-like. It means that the brew is still not the real espresso.
The different methods of creating an espresso without an espresso machine may be considered as temporary measures only, but you will need a real espresso machine to create real espresso drinks.
Espresso made by other methods, without an espresso machine, lacks a primary feature of the drink - crema. Only an espresso machine can make an espresso shot with the delightful foam - crema - that every espresso enthusiast is looking for. The crema can hang around at the top of the espresso shot for about 40 minutes to allow espresso aficionados to enjoy the brew for as long as possible.
The use of an espresso machine allows the brew to be produced in about 30 seconds. The short period of the coffee grounds exposed to water draws out less acid as compared to other brewing methods. the brew that is extracted in about 30 seconds provides coffee lovers a significant amount of caffeine.