Espresso - Brewing Guide
Probably the most complicated way of making a good cup of coffee...
We dare say that at least 99% of all the coffees that are sold as an espresso around the world are mediocre or worse in taste. (No wonder most people like to add milk or sugar to their espresso.) According to Dr. Ernesto Illy there are over 18 million factors that need to be perfect in order for an espresso to be perfect. One factor can, for example, be how ripe the cherries were before they were picked. It is impossible for a barista to know that every single of the 18 million factors are perfect, but a barista can control some of those factors. The problem is that each and every single factor need to be perfect every time and if you fail in one of them, the espresso will taste horrible. Examples of these factors are: water and coffee quality, cleanliness of equipment, grinder adjustment, brew water temperature and pressure, etc. So, how do you know if the espresso is perfect or not? Taste it. If you like it, then it is probably good. If you need sugar or other additives in order to make it taste good, then you are doing something wrong.
We have made some short films in Norwegian and English in order to help you to make better espresso, but don’t expect to be a great barista only because you have seen these films. What separates a great barista from other persons making espresso, is experience. The barista needs to have a broad understanding of how coffee is grown, processed, roasted and best brewed on various brewing devices. He/she also needs to be able to taste and judge an espresso regardless of circumstance. To be able to do this the barista needs tasting experience so that he / she has a built in reference of what is good espresso and what is not.
We hope you will enjoy and learn from the films, but remember they were made some years ago and our knowledge and skille have for sure evolved since then. If you are interested in learning more, you can attend one of our barista courses or visit our store and we will try to help you as much as possible.
Below is a short session recorded on May 20th 2015 where Tim goes through our current espresso methodology.
The importance of using good filter baskets:
We strongly recommend to use VST filterbaskets. The VST filters make it a lot easier to extract the espresso properly which gives a lot more sweetness in the cup. They are also more or less identical to each other which makes it easy to be more consistent when brewing on several groups at the same time.
Here is our typical brewing recipe when we use the VST 20 gram filterbasket:
- 93°C – 94°C brew water temperature
- 8 - 9 bars of pressure
- 19 – 20 grams of freshly ground coffee (use scales to measure)
- 36 – 40 grams of liquid espresso in the cup (use scales to measure)
- 25 – 35 seconds brewing time (use scales to measure)
With a 22g basket you need to use 22 grams of ground coffee and you should aim for a yield around 44g of espresso. The taste balance will be the same as on a 20g filter but now you have more coffee in your cup.
Make sure the filters fit your machine - they fit all La Marzocco and other machines with a 58mm filter basket. Note that the 22g filter might be too deep for some portafilters.
Our espresso roast profile:
We wish to preserve and enhance as much of the natural coffee flavours as possible so that you will be able to taste the distinct flavours that is unique to each coffee we import. Therefore we roast our coffees very carefully in order not to cover our coffees with roasty aromas from darker roasts and at the same time stay away from the grassy flavors and sour acidity from a underdeveloped roast. Our espresso roasts are similar to our light roasts but are developed slightly more in order to reduce the intensity of acidity when brewed as espresso. This roast will give you slightly more bitter notes when brewed as a filter coffee.
Packaging and storage before use:
All our coffees are packed in vacuum sealed bags that are flushed with nitrogen before sealing. The bags has a one way valve to let the coffee de-gas while quality is kept in the sealed bag. When the coffee is roasted it develops a lot of CO2 gas inside the beans. This gas will make the coffee taste smokey and ashy immediately after roasting. It is absolutely crucial to let the coffee degas and rest for a while before use to ensure maximum flavour.
Therefore we recommend storing / degassing espresso for minimum 6 to 9 days after the date of roast , sealed in the original bag at room temperature, before you use it. Make sure you store it in a dark place at around 14°C – 20°C, away from any heat, moisture or light. The coffee has lost most of its sweetness and aroma 3-4 weeks after the day of roast, so make sure you use it before it is too late.
You can find the roast date and batch number on all our coffees in the bottom right corner of the front label on the bags.