Brewing Espresso – Science or Art? Part One Could you make brewing espresso a science experiment? I think you can and should. As with any science experiment, if you can control the variables it is the key to getting what you want in your results. I say why not look at espresso in the same way. In part one I will talk about some of the tools to help you make a great espresso scientifically. In part two, I will discuss some of the equipment that will help. It is very easy to control variables in the espresso making process especially with all the great equipment and tools available to our customers. The reason you buy all these great products is because it gives you the ability to create something you like repeatedly. You should be able to brew a better more consistent espresso then you can get in over 90 percent of the places now currently selling espresso! That is why we spend all of our hard earned money for great espresso brewing equipment. We know it gives us the chance of making a great espresso drink 90 percent of the time if we are careful and understand our equipment and methods. This is opposed to the woeful 10 percent chance we have buying it from others. How can we do this? – Lets start by looking at all the things we can control; and I will point out some products I like that you should consider if you really want to taste great espresso repeatedly. The amount of coffee used to brew an espresso. This is an easy one, just weigh the amount of coffee you are using. You should always brew with the same amount of coffee. Some people will weigh the coffee before they grind it. This gives them the same amount of coffee each time, but if weighing out each dose of coffee is not your style, then acquire a grinder that weighs the ground coffee dose for you like the Baratza Vario W Coffee Grinder. It will stop grinding at exactly the weight you set. It doesn't get any easier than that! The amount of water per dose. This can be measured using a variety of methods. Your machine may have programmable cup sizes for volumetric dosing which adjusts the amount of hot water forced through the coffee grounds. That's the easy way; however, if you have a machine with no cup programming, then use a measuring device to determine how much water you are using. This one works great as it is clearly marked so you know exactly how much you are brewing: Rattleware 3oz Shot Glass Pitcher. The Tamping pressure – In my opinion this is one of the toughest to do consistently. One of my favorite products professionally speaking is a calibrated tamper. It enables you to tamp with precisely the same pressure each time. In a professional coffee shop or at home tamping correctly is one of the hardest skills to master. The key is to tamp using the same amount of pressure repeatedly. We have a tamper, (and I love it!), that will allow you to tamp at thirty pounds of pressure each time. If you get one it will help you be more exact in our science experiment. Here is a link: Espro Calibrated Flat Tamper, (and I really like this product in case you can’t tell!) In part two we will go into more detail about the equipment and how all of this will get you to the end goal of creating a delicious espresso.
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This 3 oz. shot glass pitcher from Rattleware features a handle and two pour spouts. Graduated marks read in ounces and milliliters for all your measuring needs. The Rattleware Shot Glass Pitcher measures 2.4 inches to the top of the glass.
What would be your top 5 items on your list when purchasing an espresso machine as a gift?
Here is what I bought my wife for X-Mas. Is there anything I am missing and a "must have"?
Rancilio Silvia Redesigned V3 Espresso Machine - Stainless Steel
It comes with: Urnex Dezcal Activated Scale Remover and a Stainless Steel Tamper
I also bought...
Baratza Vario - Black
Rattleware 3 oz Shot Glass Pitcher - One 3oz - Glass
Frieling Stainless Steel Frothing Pitcher - Stainless Steel
Lavazza Gold Selection Espresso - 1 2.2lb bag
Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean Espresso Coffee - 1 2.2lb bag
Given that you already have the majority of the components necessary to brew, the rest largely comes down to preference. Once you figure out what types of drinks you prefer to brew, I suggest picking up some cups to personalize your coffee brewing area to your individual tastes. If you're new to frothing milk, I'd pick up a digital frothing thermometer; These often cost slightly less than the fancier looking gauge-style analog thermometers but are much easier to read and more accurate (just don't let them get wet!). A firm rubber tamping mat can also be fairly handy, depending on your countertop.
Do you carry anything similar that is plastic so it doesn't cool down the shot so much?
The only products matching this purpose are made of glass or metal. We do, however, happen to have a product from Handpresso that may do the job:
These cups are a rigid plastic that should give you the results you're looking for, but lack the spout that would allow the shots to pour as cleanly.
Is this the same one used in your videos? Is it plastic or glass?
It is the same one and it is made of glass. It is a great tool to have as it lets you see exactly how much you are brewing as it is marked in 1/2 ounce increments. I recommend this product all the time.
There are some pretty impressive gourmet restaurants out there. At times, the food may be debatable, but the presentation is always impeccable. Great chefs know that a part of the culinary experience lies in the table service. You just don't serve a gourmet meal on disposable plates. And, so it is with fine espresso. But, it's not solely aesthetics; the cup you're extracting into could have a tangible impact on your espresso. Everything from the shape, size and material of a cup should be taken into account. Though there is no "standard" shape for an espresso cup, most of them tend have to a softly rounded form that is narrow at the bottom and gets progressively wider at the rim. The wider opening at the top is said to enhance crema presentation, while narrow bottom encourages espresso flavor concentration. The shape also allows to the cup to retain heat evenly so that you don't get hot and cold spots within your beverage. The size of the cup is also critical. A widely respected espresso authority, the World Barista Championship (WBC), states in its Rules and Regulations that espresso must be served in two- to three-ounce (60-90ml) cups with handles. The Gaggia Logo, Rancilio Logo, Pasquini Logo, Illy Almodovar and Julian Schnabel espresso cups are all solid choices that fall within WBC guidelines. Espresso cups are made tiny for a reason. The compact size of the espresso cup is designed to promote heat retention by reducing the surface area exposed to the air. Also, a single shot of espresso is only 1-1.5 fl.oz, while a double shot barely tips the scale at 2-2.5 fl.oz, so the espresso would be lost in a large cup. A 2-ounce cup is perfect for a single shot; if you're brewing a double go for a 3-ounce demitasse. Espresso-machine manufacturers go through great lengths to ensure heat stability during the brewing process, but once the espresso is extracted, it's up to the cup to prevent heat loss. We always advocate preheating your cups, but you can also guard against premature cooling by paying close attention to the material of your espresso cup. Most demitasses are made of porcelain, as it is an excellent insulator. Though, you should keep in mind that there are different grades of porcelain. Porcelain created using high firing temps is tougher and more durable; most connoisseurs prefer thick porcelain espresso cups like the Bodum Pavina Grip Porcelain, Francis Reptilia or Gaggia Platinum cups. Also particularly adept at heat preservation are double-walled cups. The contents stay hot while the exterior of the cups remain cool to the touch; if this is appealing to you, check out the Bodum Pavina, Assam or Canteen Glass cups. Of course, glass cups also have the added advantage of allowing you to see and appreciate your espresso. Next time you're pulling a shot, take a moment to consider the cup! Good espresso deserves to be enjoyed from great cups.