Espresso is a short, violent and sometimes transcendent extraction process. Small missteps in preparation are spotlighted in the resulting, concentrated beverage. Good espresso equipment is exponentially more expensive than regular brewing equipment. When it's done well, however, espresso is an expressive form of coffee that is unlike any other. Use these tips to make it magic.
Tools of the Trade
We HIGHLY recommend using gram scales to finely hone your technique. Weigh the amount of coffee you use in the portafilter (dose) and weigh the extracted mass. Keeping close tabs on these numbers will help you isolate variables and zero in on your target taste profile.
VST filter baskets are the new industry standard and with good reason. We love them for their consistency and precision. Use them in conjunction with a 58.4mm diameter tamper for major coffee nerd cred.
Flat burr grinders are where it's at. The uniform particle size results in a more even extraction and easier dial in process. Conical burrs are okay, but they tend to create more super-fine particles that will limit your parameters and muddy your flavor.
A refractometer comes with a hefty price tag, but if you own a coffee bar or take your espresso preparation super seriously it's also a necessity. You can use this amazing tool to quickly and easily maximize the potential of any coffee.
Technique & Tips
- Dry your filter basket before grinding
- Make sure that the ground coffee is as level as possible in the basket before tamping
- Don't tap the sides of the portafilter after tamping
- Tamp levelly and with consistent pressure of 20-30 pounds
Good espresso comes from clean machines. Backflush your espresso machine regularly with a backflushing detergent and clean your dispersion screen, portafilter and filter basket religiously.