ESPrESSo brEwINg tEchNIquES
3. After removing the tamper, some grinds may stick
to the side of the filter basket. Tap the filter holder
gently on the table to jostle the grinds onto the tamped
coffee disc. Do not tap too hard, or the tamped coffee
will dislodge or fracture.
4. Apply a second, finishing tamp (also called a polishing
tamp). Press straight down on the coffee with about
15 kilograms of pressure, then relax the force slightly
(to about 9 kilograms) and polish the coffee by turning
the tamper completely around twice.
5. Inspect your tamp. The coffee disc should be smooth
and level with no gaps between the side of the filter
basket and the coffee.
Measuring tamping pressure
9 kilograms, 15 kilograms – how do you know how much
tamping force you are actually using? Do what the baristas do:
use a bathroom scale! Place a scale on a table or countertop,
and tamp your coffee on top of it. Pretty soon, you will
develop a feel for how much 9 or 15 kilograms of force is.
The brew group and boilers are heated. The fresh coffee has
been ground, dosed into the filter holder, expertly leveled, and
precisely tamped. Now comes the moment of truth: brewing!
For the best espresso, never extract more than one cup
(30 ml) using the small filter basket or two cups (60 ml) using
the large one. Brewing more will overextract the coffee and
result in thin, bitter espresso.
As it pours, perfect espresso is a deep reddish brown with a
thick texture like honey running off a spoon. It often forms
what are called mouse-tails, or thin syrupy streams. As
increasingly bitter and acidic compounds are extracted, the
espresso pour will begin to lighten; in some cases, the pour
will become almost white. Expert baristas will watch the pour
carefully and quickly stop brewing if it starts to lighten.
Espresso Ristretto is espresso brewed with less than normal
volume. Prepare the Espresso Machine to brew two cups, but
stop brewing when only 45 ml have been extracted. What
you've done is restrict the pour to include only the most
flavorful and least bitter coffee oils and essences.
Decades of experience have shown that the best espresso –
whether a single or a double cup – takes about 20–25 seconds
If your espresso is brewing much faster or slower than
20–25 seconds, and your tamping technique is good, adjust
the grind! Grind finer for a slower extraction rate, and coarser
for a faster one. Keep the dose and tamp the same.
Coffee is sensitive to the ambient humidity and will absorb
moisture readily. This will affect the extraction rate. In a
humid environment, the extraction rate will slow down; in
dry conditions, the extraction rate will speed up. You may find
yourself adjusting the grind according to the season – or the
Some grinders do not allow the fine adjustments necessary
to correct the extraction rate. The best solution is to invest
in the KitchenAid Artisan Burr Grinder. If this isn't possible,
experiment with the tamping pressure. Tamp with less force
for a faster pour, and more force for a slower one.
the golden crema
A mark of fine espresso is crema, the dense golden foam of
emulsified coffee oils that captures the essence of coffee flavor.
Good crema should be thick and cling to the side of the cup
when it's tilted; the best crema should be able to support a
sprinkling of sugar for nearly 30 seconds.
troubleshooting espresso as it brews
As it pours, if your espresso...
...has more of a cinnamon color, instead of being deep brown:
• make sure your brew group and boilers are fully heated
• use a less acidic blend of coffee
...is whitish with thin brown streaks:
• review your tamping technique – the tamped coffee has
fractured, or a gap has developed between the coffee and
the side of the filter basket
...is thin and fast flowing
• review your tamping technique – the tamp may not
be firm enough to provide an even resistance to the
• use a finer grind
• check coffee freshness
...barely dribbles out of the filter holder:
• review your tamping technique – the tamp could be
• use a coarser grind
5/30/13 9:11 AM