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Espresso brightens your mornings and makes the world a better place

If you were a barista in a top cafe would you be able to remember how to make these popular espresso drinks with hundreds of people waiting in line?

The trick is to stay calm, focused, and to have an enviable set of coffee making skills. You also need a good espresso machine that is reliable and consistent.

Espresso coffee

Th is the type of coffee beverage produced by an espresso machine. Technically, espresso is a beverage made from 7 grams of finely ground dark roast coffee, that produces 1.5 oz of extracted beverage under 9 bars of brewing pressure at brewing temperatures of around 90 to 95ºC, over a period of 25 to 30 seconds of brew time.

The espresso machine

They are a little expensive but go for espresso machines that have solid components, stable temperatures, and a sensible interface. Do a little research and speak to coffee experts before buying a machine.

The espresso maker comes with several parts that include:

Grinder – Good consistent espresso begins with good ground coffee at every grind. To get the most out of your beans, choose a burr not a blade grinder that can grind finely with many steps of adjustment.

Filter – For starters, get a two-spouted or bottomless portafilter and insert a double basket – that’ll most likely be the largest of the baskets you received.

Tamper – For a secure ‘coffee puck’ and even extraction, pick a tamper that fits your portafilter basket securely. Most baskets have a diameter of 58 mm.

Scale – With a gram scale, you will be able to monitor parameters, produce consistent results, and diagnose problems. Many consumers prefer one with low resolutions, reading in 0.1- to 1-gram increments, and recommend that you weigh both dose and yield.

Brewing the espresso

You have your espresso machine now you need a few elements to start making your coffee. Essential variables for making a good espresso include:

Water – You need good water to make good espresso. Sediment, scale, dirt and negative minerals will spoil both your coffee and your equipment. Use a simple carbon filter, like that in a Brita pitcher for purer water.

Coffee grind – Coffee beans for espresso need to be a finer grind than most methods. You can tell when the grind is fine enough when the coffee clumps together, almost like powder. You can learn how to manipulate the grind to achieve different results and produce various types of brewing styles.

Dose – The standard serving size is called a doubleshot, which requires between 18 and 21 grams of ground coffee. As you add more coffee, your shot will increase in both body and intensity.

Tamp – Compacting ground coffee with a tamper restricts the flow of water, forcing coffee and water to interact. Start with a 30-pound press. To feel what that’s like push onto your weighing scale. This pressure should be applied evenly and confidently. A firm, level tamp is essential to even extraction.

Temperature – Water heated to 90-95ºC is ideal for preparing coffee. Some espresso machines allow you to control this temperature so you can adjust it to find a range that you like. Lower temperatures draw out more brightness, while higher heat produces roasted, smoky characteristics.

Espresso brews

There are many espresso styles that you might not find on the menu. Have you heard of cafe tobio – two shots of espresso with an equal amount of American coffee? Or an espresso lungo – an espresso pulled ‘long’ to maximise caffeine? Everyone has a favourite or two but why not try as many as you can? If you have an espresso machine at home you can try making these as well as latte art. Your brunch or tea (coffee) party guests will be impressed.

Popular espresso brews

Affogato

Espresso served over ice cream, traditionally vanilla. When served over chocolate ice cream, it is sometimes called an affogato mocha. Affogato means “drowned” in Italian.

Long black

Originally invented to mock Americans who wanted their espresso diluted, this is a shot of espresso with 6 to 8 oz of hot water added and approximates regular american coffee. Same as caffe mericano.

Caffe macchiato

A cup or glass of steamed milk into which an espresso shot is poured; the top of the milk is marked with a brown dot.

Caffe breve

Steamed half-and-half poured over espresso. essentially, a cappuccino made with half-and-half. Very rich, and also very difficult to foam (the lower the fat content, the easier milk is to foam).

Caffe latte

A shot of espresso with steamed milk in a 3:1 ratio of milk to espresso. That is based on espresso combined with steamed milk. In America it also serves as the basis for flavoured lattes, where a sweet syrup is added in any variety of flavours, including hazelnut and vanilla.

Caffe mocha

Traditionally, steamed chocolate milk poured over espresso although more cafes use chocolate syrup because the sugar in chocolate milk tends to crystallise on the steaming wand, which makes it difficult to clean. Many cafes top the beverage with whipped cream.

Cappuccino

Two shots of espresso topped with steamed and foamed milk, in equal thirds. It is named for the cap of foam on the top, which resembles the hooded robe of the Roman Catholic capuchin friars. It can be topped with ground cinnamon or other spices, or with ground chocolate or sweetened cocoa powder.

Flat white

This is a variation of a cappuccino made with microfoam instead of regular foam, and was invented in Australia in the 1970s. It is made with a single or double shot of ristretto topped with microfoam, steamed milk with small, fine bubbles and a velvety consistency, made possible by modern milk foaming technology, which also is responsible for barista art. It is made in a smaller cup than cappuccino, thus delivering a higher proportion of coffee to milk (similar to a cortado). Unlike the thick layer of foam served with a cappuccino (and to a lesser extent, a latte), a flat white has a thinner layer of microfoam.

Ristretto

An espresso shot pulled short to produce a richer, more intense espresso. The term literally means a “restricted” shot. Most double espresso shots are 2.5 to 3 oz and use 14 or more grams of coffee grounds. A ristretto uses the same amount of coffee but creates only 1.5 ounces of espresso in the normal brewing period of 25 to 30 seconds. This is difficult to achieve and requires a very skilled barista.

Espresso recipes

Flat white

Time: 8 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

1 shot espresso

2 shots foamed milk

Pull one shot espresso.

While pulling the shot, froth the milk. As the milk froths, use a spoon to fold the microbubbles from the top of the steaming pitcher to the bottom of the steaming pitcher. This will create a smoother, more velvety texture for your drink.

Combine the two ingredients. Create latte art if desired. Your flat white should have about 1/4 inch steamed milk on top.

Cappuccino

Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

1 double shot of espresso pulled into a cappuccino cup

Several ounces of foamed milk at about double its original volume (Start with around four ounces of milk to make this.)

Top the espresso with foamed milk right after foaming. When initially poured, cappuccinos are only espresso and foam, but the liquid milk quickly settles out of the foam to create the equal parts foam, steamed milk and espresso for which cappuccino is known. Sprinkle with cocoa powder if desired.