October 14, 2019
So if you missed our October 10 event, we are including in this post some of the info we covered. We are featuring additional events so please check here to learn about upcoming classes and events.
What is espresso?
SCA definition (doubleshot): A concentrated coffee beverage using 17-18 grams of coffee, pulled at 9-10 kbars of pressure such that a yield of 34-36 grams of liquid is produced in 25-30 seconds.
The three variables of the espresso shot. DOSE, TIME, YEILD
- DOSE: 17-18 grams of coffee (
- TIME: 25-30 seconds
- YIELD: 34-36 grams of liquid (this is far less than 2 oz of liquid)
How to dial in the perfect shot
- Adjust grinding dose to 17-18 grams using a scale. The dose should be tested with a scale every morning to make sure it is correct. Note: if your grinder dispenses by time, you will have to adjust the grind time based on the fineness or coarseness of the grind.
- Adjust yield on semi-automatic espresso machine to produce 34-36 grams of liquid each time by weight. You must set this using a properly dosed portafilter since some of the water ends up absorbing into the espresso puck. This variable should be set and not changed.
- Pull a shot and time it (time starts when you hit the button, not when liquid starts to come out). If it is within the 25-30 second range, taste it. If it tastes right, you are done.
- It will take an average of 3-5 doubleshots to get dialed in in the morning. You should also keep an eye on the shots throughout the day and make minor grind adjustments to keep the time within the 25-30 second range. Get used to what the flow of espresso looks like on a dialed-in shot so that you can see when the shots are getting out of range.
- Finally, once you have the perfectly dialed in shot, taste it and get used to what it should taste like. A perfect shot should be intense, yet balanced. It should show strong acidity and bitterness, but neither of these elements should overpower the whole. The espresso should have a pleasant aroma and a sweet finish.
Troubleshooting espresso shots
- Shot is too sour: Grind is too coarse (time is less than 25 seconds), or yield is too small. Espresso extracts the organic acids first, and so a fast shot will overemphasis the acidity.
- Shot is too bitter: Grind is too fine (time is greater than 30 seconds), or yield is too large. Bitterness is the last element extracted in espresso and it tends to increase, the longer the shot takes.
- Shot has notes of “old stale coffee”: portafilter or brewing screen are not clean and are picking up elements from previous shots.
Milk steaming primer
Properly steamed milk should be warm, but not hot. The ideal temperature is such that the customer can immediately drink the beverage as espresso is meant to be consumed directly after brewing. If you are using a thermometer, you should shut off the steam when the temperature is between 120 and 140 F. This temperature, while cooler than what most people are used to, is the best for the flavor and texture of milk and will produce a sweeter, richer cup. The texture of the milk foam should resemble wet paint and should have no visible bubbles.
How to steam milk, step by step
- Measure out the proper amount of milk for the drink size you are preparing.
- Purge steam wand and wipe with milk towel.
- Submerge pitcher so that the tip is barely below the surface (about halfway up the wand “tip”). It should be angled towards the side of the pitcher slightly, but the pitcher should be level. Activate steam valve at full power.
- If you have positioned correctly, you should not hear much noise. Slowly lower the pitcher until you hear a paper ripping sound. Let this continue for 3-5 seconds (slightly longer for cappuccino).
- Raise the pitcher slightly until you do not hear the paper ripping sound. If you submerge the wand tip too much you will not properly mix the warm milk and foam. The goal at this stage is to create a gentle whirlpool effect with the milk.
- Either tap the bottom the pitcher or use a thermometer to gauge appropriate temperature (120-140 F). Close the steam valve and wait until the valve has completely shut off before removing the wand tip.
- Purge steam wand and wipe with milk towel.
- Tap milk pitcher on the table to break any large bubbles.
- Polish milk by spinning it in a circle on the table. This helps to incorporate the warm milk and foam.
- Pour into beverage per recipe.
How to practice steaming without milk (dish soap)
- Fill pitcher with cold or room temperature water.
- Add one small drop of dish soap to pitcher.
- Steam like you would milk.
- The bubbles on soap will be a bit bigger, but it is a great way to practice without wasting milk.
- Be sure to purge the steam wand well, before switching back to milk.
Drink building guide
- Syrup and sauces in cup.
- Pull espresso shot and stir.
- Pour steamed milk and any toppings.
- Pour cold milk (or other base liquid) in cup.
- Add syrups or sauces into small brewing vessel.
- Pull espresso shot into brewing vessel, stir, and pour gently into milk. Stir.
- Add ice and any toppings. This order helps to gently cool the milk so that it does not increase bitterness.