Espressso 101 Part 1

We wanted to lay out the basics of making espresso, Espresso 101 if you will.  Herein lie the basic concepts to be mastered to make the perfect cup of espresso (hopefully) every time.

For many, a shot of espresso in the morning is the only reason to get out of bed. It is the fuel of life, providing that kick-you-awake spirit that just caters to the tone of the rest of the day. However, it can be challenging to know exactly how to make that perfect shot of espresso every time.

Preparation is key.
Before you consider anything else about espresso, it is important to have a machine that is perfect for you. A machine that is too complicated or perhaps too simple can make the process difficult and exhausting—two factors that hinder the spirit espresso is supposed to nourish in the mornings. It is important to understand your machine fully, know every feature, and understand the settings. All of this information can be found in the owner’s guide of your machine.

Warming the espresso mugs before you prepare the coffee can be a rewarding task, as it keeps the espresso at the perfect temperature for a longer period of time. Some machines come with areas designed to warm the coffee mug. However, it is just as easy to warm the mug yourself. Simply boil some water, and after it has been boiling for a few minutes, pour it into the mug. Let it sit for one minute, no more, no less. After you have finished, pour the espresso in.

Start with the basics.
It is important to first begin with fresh water. Simply using the tap water from the faucet will never yield the perfect cup. Water through a purifier on the faucet, or—though perhaps the more expensive alternative—from the jugs at the store is best used to inherit the full flavor of good espresso.

The coffee beans are the next ingredient—and obviously the most important. The choices of coffee beans have an insurmountably high range to suit any taste. Some people have said that mixing different beans together yield a more unique taste. While this sort of experimentation adds in more variables to the mix, it may very well be the best alternative if you are between two different tastes.

Grinding the beans.
Espresso beans should be ground just before being brewed. Otherwise, the oxidation will dull the flavors over the time provided and the cup will be noticeably less powerful. For this reason, it is important to grind the beans in the morning or when you are actually planning to drink the espresso, one pot at a time, taking care to use only as much as you need.

Burr grinders are the best grinders to use for the perfectly ground beans, however they are often expensive and more difficult to handle. For those on a budget, one should choose a blade grinder. While they may grind in inconsistent grounds, they are cheap and very easy to use.

To be continued…

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