Happy New Year!
There’s no better way to kick off the day than with a tasty double shot, so I figured I’d do something out-of-the-ordinary and post a photographic recipe about how to make a good espresso. I used to think this stuff was repulsive, but my mind quickly changed when I discovered the true black gold. I learned about the sweet taste and the berry flavor and the fact that a good espresso tastes like candy. Bad espresso tastes bitter and sour and harsh and is really just disgusting.
Ever since, I’ve been searching for a good shot in the USA, and have found exactly one place that does it right: Loaded Joes, in Avon, CO. I’m sure there are many more great baristas in the woodwork of Colorado, so if you know where they’re hiding, leave a comment and tell me!
Anyway, first thing first: rinse your portafilter. You don’t want to have any old coffee oils and residue in there. Also, let your machine heat up completely (don’t be impatient!), and run a quick blast through it to clear out any leftover gunk.
The next step is to make sure you have your grind dialed in. Different beans produce a different grind, and it usually takes me a couple shots before I can find my desired grind setting for my bean. We have our Rancillio Rocky hovering between 4 and 7 on the grind-o-meter scale. Ultimately you want a grind that, when tamped properly and espressed for 25 seconds, gives you a solid double shot with your double basket. You will probably make a mess on your counter, as we do. We’re still trying to figure out a way to keep the coffee station clean.
If you’re a Euro pro, you can flatten off the grinds with your fingers, but it’s not advised. Best to use a knife and slice off all the extra so it’s all flat with the top of the basket.
If you are making a single shot in the Rancillio Silvia machine, we’ve discovered that it’s even better if you actually leave a concavity in the surface. You can create this by wiping off the extra coffee grinds with a butter knife instead of a flat edge. For some reason, the basket is not quite deep enough and you’ll too much coffee in the portafilter.
Tamp, tamp, tamp. This is where the art comes in. Everyone has their own way to do it, but the basics are: 30 pounds of even pressure. If you tamp too tightly, the hot water doesn’t pass through fast enough and you get a ruined shot. If you tamp too lightly, it comes too fast and you don’t get your essential espresso flavor. And if you’re just a brute and don’t do it carefully, you risk cracking the puck of coffee grounds, and the water will slip through the cracks. As a result, the water touches some of the beans for a long time, but doesn’t touch the rest of the grounds. Ruined!
Assemble the contraption!
And last but not least, hit the “Go” button, and watch your espresso come out in a a thin stream. Then, sip and enjoy. Mmmmmm!
It awakens your senses, perks up those taste buds, and just feels good. Yum!