The perfect espresso shot is the building block for most common variations of coffee, not to mention a popular beverage in its own right.
Getting it right is the key to pouring consistently create great-tasting coffee for any professional or home barista. For those who may not be familiar with coffee-making jargon, we’ll kick this off with some common terms and what they mean.
Producing a shot of espresso is commonly referred to as ‘pulling’ a shot.
The portafilter is the component of your espresso machine that holds the coffee grounds during the brewing process (also known as a group handle).
The process of turning roasted coffee beans into coffee grounds.
The amount of coffee grounds in your portafilter.
Tamping means applying pressure to the grounds in the portafilter to compress and evenly distribute them before extraction.
This term refers to the process of running water through the ground coffee to get the final result, the espresso shot.
Step 1: Grind and Dose
Dosing is the act of filling the portafilter with ground coffee. Baristas can measure their dosage using either a free dosing, set dosing technique or by measuring on a scale. Like all elements of coffee making, dosage requires careful attention to obtain the desired water flow through the grounds. Each barista must discover what works best for their own machine and that of their customer’s palettes.
The general rule for grinding coffee is ‘only grind as much as you are going to use’. This ensures maximum freshness and, therefore, maximum flavour. Grind your beans to the desired consistency and then fill your portafilter. For a double shot of espresso you are aiming for 18-21 grams, depending on the type of coffee, machine and individual preferences. If you are using the single shot basket, use 8-10g of ground coffee.
Step 2: Tamp
The correct tamping technique involves using a flat-faced tamper pressed into the portafilter. Your arm should be perpendicular to the bench you are working at to ensure the pressure is direct, and you want to aim for about 13.5 kilograms of pressure – it is worth using a scale to get a feel for how hard to press. Alternatively, press firmly until the tamper stops moving. It should feel like you get some ‘push back’ from the coffee grounds.
A good and even tamp is key to the quality of your shot. If the tamp is not firm enough, the water will find easy paths through the grounds, over-extracting along those channels and leaving other grounds untouched, resulting in an uneven extraction. This kind of extraction tastes lacklustre, bitter and thin. As the tamper is generally slightly smaller than the portafilter, many baristas use a four-point approach, in which you move the tamper from top-bottom and each side to make sure all the grounds have been targeted.
Step 3: Extraction
Once tamped, you can insert the portafilter into the machine and start extraction. Within a few seconds, the shot should start pouring. Timing is everything in this stage, and getting it right impacts heavily on the taste of the espresso.
Di Bella Coffee beans are freshly roasted and therefore it is important to know how many days from the roast date your coffee is.
The ideal Di Bella Coffee Espresso Extraction of 30ml (including crema) is created when hot water, heated to 90 - 94° is passed through a full basket of freshly ground coffee (at least 5 days from the roast date) for a period of between 30 - 34 seconds.
Pulling the perfect espresso shot is often a lifelong search for dedicated baristas, but pulling a great shot is something that can be achieved by anyone with a little practice!