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How to make killer espresso at home

Five Senses CoffeeAdrian Mancuso 9 August 2018

Making espresso at home is great fun and it’s fantastic to experience what goes on behind the scenes at your favourite café by making delicious drinks at home.

So how do I make killer espresso at home? When it comes down to it, most people start at a very basic level, even if they have a killer machine to help. The only real way to get better is to practice, taste and be honest with yourself. The espresso itself, and the quality of its flavour, is often the most neglected detail in the whole process. Everyone seems to concentrate on ‘silky milky’ and latte art (which is important too), but it’s easy to lose sight of the actual coffee. So, here’s a helpful espresso brew guide.

Espresso Brew Guide

Great espresso should be complex, sweet, balanced and clean. But most of all, it should be easy to repeat!

Here’s a good starting point for a killer espresso:

Recipe

Industry Standard Recipe
1:2 Coffee:Yield (espresso)

At our training academy, we use:

  • 19-22g Pullman Basket
  • Dose (in): 22g of your favourite Five Senses espresso coffee
  • Yield (out): 44g of espresso
  • Time: 27-31sec

Hint: get to know your equipment. How much coffee, in grams, does your basket hold?

What you’ll need

Method

    1. Get your equipment ready
    2. Heat up your espresso machine and run some water through the group head.
    3. Fill up your grinder with fresh coffee.
    4. Let’s grind. Turn your grinder on and purge some coffee through to get rid of any old coffee that may be trapped in your grinder.
    5. Dry wipe the inside of your portafilter with a tea towel to ensure no channelling occurs. Water will always follow the path of least resistance, so a wet basket will create channelling (which, of course, is no good).
    6. Weigh your dose.Hint: To standardise your espresso, stick to a common target dose every time. Weighing is important, so get yourself a set of scales to weigh in and weigh out. The ultimate weigh in / weigh out combo is a Baratza Sette 270Wi and Acaia Lunar scales.
    7. Distribute your coffee. We are looking to create a nice even surface, so the water can travel across ground coffee evenly.
      Distribution hint: double check your grounds prior to tamping to ensure they’re sitting flat. Adjust with karate chop on each edge if required.
    8. Now compress that bed of coffee grinds. Using a tamp, press firmly and evenly on top of your grinds to create resistance and an even structure for water to pass through.Tamping hint: bend your elbow at a 90* angle to ensure evenness of tamp. Apply between 1-10kg of pressure; above 10kg, the results will plateau. Tamp until you feel the resistance of the counter below, that’s all the pressure which is required.
    9. Flush through a few seconds of water which should collect the majority of the leftover coffee grinds from your previous coffee. If you have a heat exchange machine, flush water through immediately before your shot. Once it stops ‘hissing and spitting’ and runs steady, you’re at the right temperature to brew.
    10. Place you portafilter into the espresso machine to begin extraction.
    11. Let’s brew espresso! Place a cup on a set of scales below your portafilter spouts and get ready to time your extraction.
    12. Get your timer ready.
    13. Start your extraction and hit ‘Go’ on your timer. Water will passing through your coffee, making its way into your cup.
      Extraction Speed: The pour should initially start with a little bit of dripping before easing out into more of a steady stream.
    14. Watch your extraction.
      Espresso should be flowing through each spout evenly. We’re looking for a dark brown viscous espresso pour to begin with. That then tans out, becoming lighter in colour and in texture, until it eventually becomes almost blonde in appearance and watery in texture.
    15. Stop your extraction and timer. When your espresso is close to hitting the weight you were looking for, its time to hit the brakes!
      Hint: we typically stop the machine 3g before the target weight as the spout will hold around this amount of espresso ready to fall into your cup.
    16. Your tasty espresso is ready to enjoy. Sit back, relax and sip your deliciously brewed espresso.

Ready for round 2?

  • If that last cup was bangin’, use the extraction speed on you timer as a reference and look to hit this number each time for that same delicious cup.
  • If that last cup was a little out of the 27-31sec ball park; change you grind – a bit finer to produce a slower pour, or courser to produce a faster pour.
  • Empty your portafilter and clean the inside of your basket.
  • Purge water through your group head. Now you’re ready for step 1.

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