Espresso Yourself
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Espresso Yourself

A well-pulled shot of espresso can be seen as the ultimate achievement of all those who have been involved in its production: from the coffee grower, through to the taster to the roast master and finally, the barista.

Tamping Tips

Tamping packs the ground coffee evenly and firmly into the basket. Well-tamped coffee should have a smooth, flat surface so water passes evenly through the grinds, extracting as much flavour as possible.

To achieve your perfect cake of coffee for extraction follow these simple steps:

  1. Over-fill the basket with ground coffee then level off with a light sweep of the finger.
  2. Carefully rest the portafilter on the edge of the bench or on a tea towel for tamping.
  3. Hold the tamp so that the base of the handle fits into the palm of your hand.
  4. Press gently on the coffee evenly with the tamp.
  5. Your wrist should be straight, with your arm held straight above the portafilter at a 90-degree angle.
  6. Now twist the tamp approximately 360 degrees to polish off the top of the coffee cake, leaving a smooth surface.
  7. Finally, wipe any excess coffee grinds off the portafilter rim to ensure no coffee gets into the group head and prevents a good seal.

Now you are ready to extract your perfect espresso shot.

Producing the perfect espresso is a high pressured business.

An 'espresso' is basically 25-30mls of hot water, forced under high pressure through 9-12 grams of very finely ground coffee, over a period of approximately 20-30 seconds. Such a small amount of water being forced through such a large amount of coffee results in an intense 'liqueur' of coffee.

The signature of a good espresso shot is the 'crema' the creamy reddish-brown texture that forms on the surface. It is the delicious reward for fresh, properly roasted coffee, extracted correctly. If you're preparing espresso at home, make sure the coffee you use is ground ultra fine. If the coffee is too coarse, the espresso will be watery and bitter.

Fill the handle generously and tamp the coffee firmly. Compacting the coffee means the water forces its way through more slowly, extracting the maximum flavour, becoming thick and syrupy with a delicate mottling of crema building on the surface.