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Siliconslave's how to make espresso thread

Discussion in 'La Cuisine' started by Siliconslave, Jun 17, 2008.

  1. Siliconslave

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Dec 11, 2002

    Posts: 9,456

    Location: The Flatlands

    As i ended up chatting to Justin about how to make coffee last night for a couple of hours i figured that i might just make a thread on how to pull a decent espresso.

    an Espresso can be the base of most coffee drinks, add water and get an americano or long black, add steamed milk for a latte, add steamed milk and milk foam for a Cappuccino etc etc

    First thing you need are the beans, i'm using the Skyberry i get from my local coffee lady, but anything thats be recently roasted is good - coffee goes stale over time so try and use it up within a month of roasting ideally. Hasbean do a good selection and send out as close to the roasting as possible.

    Ideally you want to grind the beans yourself. Once a bean is ground the coffee deteriorates at an alarming rate, losing flavor within the hour. I'm using the Iberital MC2 from happy donkey (~£100). Its a very adjustable grinder for making espresso, although i wouldn't recomend it for anyone looking to vary between methods of making it as the adjustment is very fine. The Dualit bur grinder is also acceptable for a starter(~£50). Make sure you get something that grinds, not cuts!

    Adjustment of the grind is pretty much the biggest control you have over your pour, its all trial and error but you want your shot (30ml) to pour within ~25seconds. The best bet is to make it as fine as you can, this may well stall your machine so work backward from there.

    [​IMG]
    add beans and grind to portafilter

    once you've ground your beans into your portafilter (basket that fits to your coffee machine) you need to flatten off the top with your finger (or spoon, bit of useful sized wood etc) tap the basket down and "tamp" the coffee down with a tamper. The one i've got here is a reg barber but the plastic ones that come with the machine are ok to start with. you need to put a decent amount of weight behind the tamp (30-40 pounds) so use most of your body weight.

    [​IMG]
    flattening and tamping the coffee

    the next step is pushing hot (85-95 °C / 185-203 °F) water through the coffee. To do this most people use a coffee machine :D i'm using a gaggia classic, a good compitent machine thats at the lower end of the market for ~£200. Below this your better off using a cafetiere, stove top moca pot or similar. I'm using a double shot basket in my machine so i get more lovely coffee.

    The machine should be preheated so it has time to get to temperature, the portafilter locks into under a "group head" kind of like a highly pressureised shower that forces the hot water through the coffee at about 9bar of pressure. The coffee should take a couple of seconds to start appearing and should come out as a treacly looking substance, too fast and the grind needs to be thinner, too slow and you get a "Ristretto" so back off on the gind a little.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
    not the best pour, but gives you an idea. My Skyberry is getting a little old & the grinder needs to be a little finer

    you should get a nice thick redish brown crema (head) on the shot which will form much like the head of Guinness. Enjoy your espresso in two min before it starts to deteriorate so drink now!

    that should give you a reasonable basis to try making a coffee, have fun :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
  2. Azza

    Caporegime

    Joined: Dec 6, 2005

    Posts: 32,972

    Location: Fuerteventura|Birmingham

    *raises eyebrow*
     
  3. yermum

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 16, 2005

    Posts: 2,205

    Location: Buckinghamshire

    Looks good to me. I've just made myself a cappuccino and I am just about to dunk a biscotti. Bliss
     
  4. NicNac

    Gangster

    Joined: Sep 16, 2007

    Posts: 353

    Location: Stoke-on-trent

    Nice thread. I wish I had the money to buy a grinder :( sometimes I live on coffee :p
     
  5. Jonny69

    Man of Honour

    Joined: May 3, 2004

    Posts: 17,621

    Location: Koronation Strasse

    Excellent thread, it's good to see how other people do their espresso :)

    We have an Ascaso Dream machine here which appears to be bulletproof but I haven't successfully used coffee grounds through it yet. I stalled the machine because I don't really know what I'm doing so it looks like I put too much coffee in it.

    Just so I understood this right you filled the holder on the handle up to the top and scraped it level, then pressed it down with your body weight? I think I made the mistake of overfilling it then. I might also be a bit more patient to see what comes out if I leave the pressure on. I didn't want it to self destruct.

    Anyone recommend a pre-ground coffee that I can use at work? What's the best out of the Lavazza's and Illy's you can get in the supermarket? What coffee do they use in Pizza Express? I like their espresso and I guess they must get it in pre-ground.
     
  6. Scottland

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 14,570

    Location: North Wales

    I've started making my coffee very lazily recently, even bought a filter machine :eek:

    Interesting to see you put that much pressure when tamping the coffee though, I don't put anywhere near that pressure on it, I will try more pressure next time.
     
  7. p4radox

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 1, 2004

    Posts: 10,748

    Location: Prague

    That looks excellent.

    To the experts: what's the cheapest grinder/coffee maker I could get away with? At the moment I'm using a small cafetiere and ground coffee from Sainsbury's, and I'd like to see an improvement.:)
     
  8. xander_uk2

    Hitman

    Joined: Dec 2, 2003

    Posts: 970

    Location: Inverness Scotland

    Any decent brands available in the supermarkets? Never sure which ones to go for.
    I mainly use a cafetiere :)

    For ground coffee I mean, not for equipment
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2008
  9. robbiemc

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Dec 30, 2003

    Posts: 2,262

    Location: West Byfleet, Surrey.

    I find Illy beans to be the best of the locally available brands (not cheap though).

    Siliconslave, as an espresso maniac myself, I was expecting this thread to be full of poor techniques and nonsense, but I'm delighted that you've demonstrated the perfect method for making espress - this is exactly how it should be done.

    I use a Gaggia MDF grinder which has proven to be a reliable companion to my Expobar Office Pulsar. As this unit is a heat-exchanger model, you can pull an espresso immediately after foaming milk (or vice-versa) without having to wait for the boiler to get back to temperature.
     
  10. Scottland

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 14,570

    Location: North Wales

    Damn I want a coffee now, but I'm stuck with Starbucks and Costa et al :o
     
  11. Jonny69

    Man of Honour

    Joined: May 3, 2004

    Posts: 17,621

    Location: Koronation Strasse

    The best coffee I can make at home on a budget is in a stovetop coffee boiler with Illy ground coffee out of a tin. The only way I've bettered this is with an espresso machine. The only problem is the size of the tin because it gets a bit stale by about 2/3 of the way through.
     
  12. Siliconslave

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Dec 11, 2002

    Posts: 9,456

    Location: The Flatlands

    glad some people like the thread :) again i would advise that the best thing to buy first is a good grinder, freshly ground coffee in any method of brewing is better than shop ground (and usually stale) coffee in a top of the line machine!

    Tamper pressure wise you can mess it up by putting too much pressure on the grinds, but you do really need to lean into it to get a good consistancy "puck" of coffee in the portafilter. You can adjust somewhat for the grind level by how hard you push down, but its no substitue for grinding at the right consistancy.

    just had annother play with the adjustment on the grinder as i've not zero'd it for ages, the results are amazing :D so much nicer! might put some picks up in a min...
     
  13. wassap

    PermaBanned

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 12,337

    Im very much a coffee fan, but i cant justify the cost.

    I ended purchasing a Morphy Richards espresso maker and frother (£27 down from about £70) and i got a Dualit grinder,which i think is an excellent starter combo, the beans im currently getting from Whittards, and all that combination works really well, its all in the grind, dont bother with cheap grinders, you are better off buying pre ground than craply ground coffee.
     
  14. Clark Nova

    Mobster

    Joined: Apr 3, 2003

    Posts: 3,934

    Location: InterZone

    I've got a Gaggia Classic too and it ranks amongst the best things I have purchased.

    How long do you pull your espresso for? I aim for 18-20 seconds otherwise I find it tates a little burnt. I like to have a double espresso in the evening after I get home from work otherwise I fall asleep on the sofa if I've had a busy day.
     
  15. Siliconslave

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Dec 11, 2002

    Posts: 9,456

    Location: The Flatlands

    [​IMG]
    a very strong ristretto shot, nearly took my head off, but seriously flavorsome :) needed to dial it down a little though, so...
    MMmm gloopy
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    edit: i tend to aim for about 25 seconds, it shouldn't be tasteing burned though, maybe set your grind a little finer...

    edit redux: is it wrong to want to buy a new lens just for taking photos of coffee??
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2008
  16. Emlyn_Dewar

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 15, 2003

    Posts: 12,303

    Location: Chengdu

    Good thread, I've got a comedy £29.99 Proline thing from *a competitor*, it's been pretty awesome so far. :)
    I've just been buying pre-ground like a filthy n00b, think it might be time to get a reasonable grinder and some decent beans.
    What are some good grinder choices and how much should I be looking to pay?
     
  17. Nitefly

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Sep 24, 2005

    Posts: 28,635

    I used to work in a 'Coffee Primo' at a service station... multiple espressos for the yuppies!
     
  18. Clark Nova

    Mobster

    Joined: Apr 3, 2003

    Posts: 3,934

    Location: InterZone

     
  19. Siliconslave

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Dec 11, 2002

    Posts: 9,456

    Location: The Flatlands

    grinders wise:
    <£50 buy ground, by small amounts and buy often, keep in a sealed container in the fridge. DO NOT BUY A BLADE "GRINDER" :)
    £50-100 - Dualit burr grinder or Bodum Antigua
    £100-£150 - Iberital MC2 or Gaggia MDF
    £150+ you can start picking up second had macaps if your lucky (£300+ new)
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2008
  20. p4radox

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 1, 2004

    Posts: 10,748

    Location: Prague

    Looks like I'll have to start buying smaller amounts of ground coffee then, £50 is probably too much for me.:)

    Did someone mention recently an online store that can send out new coffees for you every few weeks? Or what's a decent way to try a few good ready-ground beans?
     


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