What makes a qualified shot of Espresso?
Espresso is known as the king of drinks made from coffee thanks to its charming pure bitter taste and passionate aroma. Compared to other regular coffees, espresso especially gives a quite complex flavor, which is strong, quite bitter, slightly tart like a lemon, and if you’re doing it right, you can even feel the natural sweet aftertaste. This complexity in taste is also equal to how we make good espresso, not everyone can pull consistent shots anytime. In fact, creating a cup that is too fluid or watery, with no crema can happen to both homemade makers and professional baristas. The value of a qualified shot of espresso is crystallized from different aspects: the water you used, coffee types, the grinders as well as how you use it, how skillful you are, and the taste-bud of each drinker, etc. The method requires you to observe carefully, to do meticulously, and also cultivate experience regularly.
How to tell an Espresso shot is excellent
The cup of Espresso coffee is considered to be extraordinarily delicious must meet the checklist below:
- Temperature: The coffee must be maintained at a temperature of about 65 degrees Celsius.
- Finish layer: On top of your espresso cup will have a light, fluffy crema about 3-4mm thick. This is not a big bubble layer, but just a speckled cover like tiger skin.
- Bitterness: It should have a mildly bitter taste.
- Aroma: A good espresso will be rich in aromas of caramel, vanilla, or chestnut.
- Flavor: You know you’re doing it right if you feel a flavor combination of chocolate, chestnut, or the typical flavor of the region where the coffee is grown.
- Acidity: The acidity in an espresso won’t be too sour or too harsh like that of a lemon, but more pleasant.
- Body: Quite a surprise but it is expected to have just enough fatty and greasy taste of oil or milk (but you’re not using milk, of course).
- Aftertaste: The aftertaste should be slightly sweet, long-lasting, and harmonious between flavors.
What to note to pull a qualified shot of Espresso
The source of water
Water accounts for 92% of a cup of coffee, which means it’s also one of the most vital factors affecting the quality of a good espresso cup. The water used must be pure soft filtered water, but absolutely not mineral water as the mineral component will quickly deposit calcium deposits in the water circuit and press mortar system, influencing the coffee taste as well as the machine-cleaning section.
The most suitable extraction time for beginners is 25 seconds. Keep applying this rule until you are confident enough to experiment with an espresso-making experience of your own.
Know your machines and get on well with them
The next prerequisite step in making a good cup of espresso is to find the ideal grind setting for a particular coffee and a specific brew method; here is espresso – the type that we need to focus on the ideal fineness of the ground beans, along with the pressure and temperature when making the coffee to maintain its flavor to the fullest.
The best ideal option is a professional coffee grinder with a flat burr as it not only grinds the beans faster but also produces more uniform particle sizes. In terms of coffee makers, choose models with E61 technology – Pre-infusion and multi-boiler as they allow you to make espresso while steaming yet still maintaining the ideal pressure and temperature. If you already have machines before knowing this, then try to learn both their strengths and limitations to make the best use of them.
Additionally, regular maintenance and cleaning of these machines is also a must to make espresso quality up to standard. Some areas you need to pay attention to are the juicer, the water circuit inside the machine, and the portafilter – they will easily form loose residue or calcium deposits, which affect the taste of espresso.
Coffee is an organic product aging over time, so you should take notes of its packaging date. If the coffee is old, you will no longer enjoy the perfect coffee taste and there will be a slight chance for attractive crema. Still, we should also avoid buying newly-fresh coffee. Why? Because coffee after roasting will begin to release CO2, which is called “the degas process”. At that time, the coffee is like a real living organism, breathing and metabolizing to create a rich, full flavor. You’d better wait about 48 hours for the coffee to “breathe” and buy a bag with a one-way valve.
One more thing, the more uniform the bean size and the exact fineness it gets, the better your espresso will be. Bear in mind, darker roasts tend to be looser with less crema than medium or light ones.
For each shot of espresso, you will need about 8-10 grams of dry coffee powder. After the coffee is put in the filter handle, continue to tamp and smooth the surface so that the powder is evenly spread and compacted at points in the basket.
Regarding the best cup material to use, you should refer to porcelain or glass to ensure enough thickness.
Brewing coffee is a process that requires extreme heat, just one reduction in the heat factor will affect the final quality of the coffee. As a result, make it a habit to place the cup on the lid of the coffee maker so that the heat released from the boiler helps maintain the temperature of the cup. If you forget, rinse the cup with hot water so as not to affect the quality of your drink.
Don’t forget to taste again and again
When trying any new coffee or a new technique for your espresso, make sure to taste it every time. The taste experience is a strategic weapon for making better espresso.
Today, professional coffee makers have been designed to standardize and automate most of the temperature and pressure factors, resulting in making espresso much more effortlessly, but how to do it right and delicious dill is a very long distance, and not every Barista knows. Consistency in quality requires your constant efforts and dedication. Sometimes the taste of a good espresso shot depends on the customer’s enjoyment. Theory is the foundation but reality always has its own arguments. Therefore, do not be stereotyped, but constantly update your knowledge, make appropriate adjustments, and taste many times until getting the desired flavor.