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jackmash

Can someone please tell me how to make good espresso?

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I usually take 30 gms of coffee beans (ground) and a cup of water (200 ml) with a temperature of 90 degrees C to make my Espresso. But the thing is, the bitterness is so strong and the taste of the espresso is way off. I have experimented with different combinations. For example, I tried with 25, even 22 gms of coffee beans. But, I always missed out the ideal combo. I usually stir it for 20 seconds, not more. And, I use the frothing wand that is common in espresso machines to steam my milk. I don't know how long we are supposed to steam though. But, for me, it won't take more than 10 seconds. I don't know when I will be able to make an ideal espresso. Can someone please help?

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Try less water.  A shot of espresso should only be an ounce or two, not six or seven.  If you want an americano, add more water after the espresso is extracted.

 

What are you stirring?  What machine or device are you using?


Edited by pastrygirl (log)

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Right, I think making sure we're using the term espresso correctly is important. In the coffee shop world there are distinct formulas (google them), and I can tell you from experience that the key factors are: grind, volume of ground, tamping strength, water flow/pressure and water volume. If you aren't controlling those you aren't really making espresso.

 

Here's my explanatory story. I hate coffee, but last year I opened a daytime cafe with espresso. We had a fancy espresso machine. Because I was now doing 5 am shifts I started drinking copious amounts of espresso. Always bitter, always nasty, always supporting my hating of coffee. I switched our beans to Ethiopian and backed the roast way off (technically it was the development phase), two things that should have helped with bitterness. But still I kept drinking nasty coffee (customers really loved the changes). I can't remember why but I brought my roasting mentor in for a coffee checkup, and he watched as I pushed the "chef shot" button which pulled a quad shot, and he noted that I used about 40% too many grounds. So I dialed back on the grounds and used the 2 oz button (1 oz is standard but I don't know any coffee shop that doesn't do a 2 oz draw). And guess what...I like my coffee now! 

 

Second thought, at home i do Aeropress (I promise I really do hate coffee despite how much I drink), and most believe that Aeropress makes coffee less acidic and less bitter.

 

My advice regardless of what you are technically making is to try less grounds, less water and steep a bit less. Think Americano for your final drink - top off your espresso with hot water to get the desired volume.

 

Give that a try and see what happens.

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@jackmash

 

this is such a complicated question , that I paused before answering.

 

what you like , and dislike , might not be the same thing for someone else.   this is important

 

go to Sweet marias and roam around ;

 

https://legacy.sweetmarias.com/library/

 

https://legacy.sweetmarias.com/library/search/espresso/

 

https://legacy.sweetmarias.com/library/espresso-choosing-the-right-coffee-for-espresso/

 

the last article is a good one to point out different blends offer different tastes

 

I use a bottom-less portafilter

 

the thickness of the stream tells me exactly what my cup is going to taste like

 

if the stream is too thin , either from too fine a grind , or too much pressure in the tamp

 

its going to be a very bitter cup.

 

using the same beans , a very slightly coarser grind , very very slight , and the right tamp will give me a perfect cup

 

it also took me a long time to realize , as Tom from SM states :  espresso is better at a lighter roast than the darker i prefer for drip.

 

so Id think about the roast you are using , both the bean blend , and the roasting level

 

and the grind and tamp.

 

and go from there

 

a P.S.:  with the perfect bean blend // roost level  that suits your taste

 

you can get a Perfect Cup , but you can also get a terribly bitter cup if the density of the coffee puck is too dense

 

ie Grind + tamping leads to to slow an extraction.

 

and if the grind is too coarse and the tamp is too light :  you get a fast extraction and a very mediocre cup

 

its less important the gms / puck than the extraction rate for each puck

 

it takes practice.


Edited by rotuts (log)
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Yup.  Espresso is a really tough balancing act between your beans, your grinder, your tamper, and your espresso machine...  And you've given us no info about any of what you're using.  Let us know , and maybe somebody who has similar equipment can help you dial in your shot... or not... there are lots and lots of combinations out there.  As a general rule, varying your grind is the first step... for my particular taste buds, a 15-18g double shot dosage should pull a 2 oz-ish shot in 20-30 seconds. twiddle with your grinder until you get there... and then let us know how we can guide you from there.

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if you , or anybody else , decided to make espresso a serious hobby

 

a bottomless portafilter , at some point is useful and very revealing.

 

it just a standard one or two spout portafilter with the bottom completely machined off.

 

in the past these were machined locally by your espresso dealer  if they had high end equipment

 

now they are made by many of the machine makers themselves.

 

you can see the defect in your ' puck '  """ live """"

 

and make corrections w the next shot.

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Sounds more like you are making French Press coffee.

 

The runner-up of the world Brewer's Cup gave me these instruction for French Press:

 

30g coffee. 500ml water just off boiling. Pour over water. Sit for four minutes (don't stir). Plunge the crust into the water, scrape off the crema sitting on top and discard. Wait two minutes then press gently.

 

If it is espresso, there are many variables:

 

The Coffee Type and Growing Location. Cheap coffee tastes pretty nasty.

The Processing Method.

The Roast -- dark gives bitter notes. The roaster will vary time across different bean types to achieve the desired output.

How long it is since they were roasted (contrary to what some coffee geeks say, fresh is not best as the beans continue to give off carbon dioxide after roasting).

The Grind.

The Water (filtered/hard/soft, minerals, etc).

The Dosage (how much is used).

The evenness of distribution of the coffee in the basket.

The Tamp.

The heat of the water from the machine.

 

I have an excellent sources of coffee beans and the roasters give explicit instructions, e.g.

 

METHOD
Espresso: 10-40 days post roast
DOSE
21g
EXTRACTION VOLUME
42g [note this is not ml as the crema ruins the measurement by volume]
EXTRACTION TIME
28 seconds
TEMPERATURE
93.5°C
MILK WEIGHT
120g

 

If you were to follow these instructions for this coffee and adjust your grind and tamp to achieve the desired volume in the specified time, you will have an excellent cup of coffee. As rotuts says, a bottomless portafilter allows you to see if you are distributing and tamping properly as the water will channel through the puck at multiple locations if you haven't done it properly.

 

It's technical, I know. However, if you were to do this, you'd guarantee a better outcome than most cafes.

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I've little to add, but concur with a lot or all of what has been posted above.

 

Certainly, freshness and quality of coffee, grind quality, water quality, and equipment are of primary importance.

 

Have you (the OP) tried making simpler pour-over coffee? It seems like you enjoy a standard sized cup of coffee, and mayb that will make you happier. The investment is minimal.


Edited by weinoo (log)
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On 11/18/2018 at 7:18 PM, nickrey said:

METHOD
Espresso: 10-40 days post roast

Boy, 40 days post roast sounds like Miss Silvia would flip her wig.

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my home-roast espresso , of all types , rests for 2 days after roasting.

 

peaks at flavor @  5 days after the roast , and at 7 declines.

 

I therefor roast , when i remember , one a week.

 

only takes 7.5. minutes to roast one heaping cup of green beans.

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8 hours ago, weinoo said:

Boy, 40 days post roast sounds like Miss Silvia would flip her wig.

The coffee from that roaster has twice been used by the World Barista Champion and also used by other finalists in the competition. These people really know their coffee.

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On 11/15/2018 at 8:22 PM, gfron1 said:

Right, I think making sure we're using the term espresso correctly is important. In the coffee shop world there are distinct formulas (google them), and I can tell you from experience that the key factors are: grind, volume of ground, tamping strength, water flow/pressure and water volume. If you aren't controlling those you aren't really making espresso.

 

Here's my explanatory story. I hate coffee, but last year I opened a daytime cafe with espresso. We had a fancy espresso machine. Because I was now doing 5 am shifts I started drinking copious amounts of espresso. Always bitter, always nasty, always supporting my hating of coffee. I switched our beans to Ethiopian and backed the roast way off (technically it was the development phase), two things that should have helped with bitterness. But still I kept drinking nasty coffee (customers really loved the changes). I can't remember why but I brought my roasting mentor in for a coffee checkup, and he watched as I pushed the "chef shot" button which pulled a quad shot, and he noted that I used about 40% too many grounds. So I dialed back on the grounds and used the 2 oz button (1 oz is standard but I don't know any coffee shop that doesn't do a 2 oz draw). And guess what...I like my coffee now! 

 

Second thought, at home i do Aeropress (I promise I really do hate coffee despite how much I drink), and most believe that Aeropress makes coffee less acidic and less bitter.

 

My advice regardless of what you are technically making is to try less grounds, less water and steep a bit less. Think Americano for your final drink - top off your espresso with hot water to get the desired volume.

 

Give that a try and see what happens.

5

Thank you for this awesome reply. It is true that every good coffee maker of today had a "bitter" past lol. I usually use one shot for my coffee (1 shot = 1 ounce). But, I am just experimenting these days to find the right formula. I guess what I am lacking is in the mixing department. 


Edited by jackmash (log)

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Thank you @rotuts@cdh , @nickrey and @weinoo for sharing your espresso making experiences. 

Do you guys mind sharing what beans you use to make the espresso? Do you always try to get new beans and grind it yourself? I heard even the age of beans play a crucial role in making a good espresso! 

 


Edited by jackmash spelling (log)

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@jackmash

 

I roast my own beans

 

the green beans come from Sweet Marias

 

geen beens keep sir some time if kept dry

 

its not hard to roast your own.

 

you should always grind your beans yourself, w a decent grander that matches the excretion system in quality.

 

the type of bean ( after proper roasting ) determines the flavor of your coffee.

 

its a personal preference sort of thing

 

what i like , others might not.

 

think " a bottle of wine "

 

the wine in that bottle is constant , but different drinkers may have different reactions to its taste

 

even coming from the same bottle at the same time.

 

unlike wine

 

once you get quality green beans , learn to roast , properly grind , and extract

 

the cup that results is all yours   good , great , bad.

 

can't say that for many things these days.

 

it does take some time to get to your ' Perfect Cup "

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For the most part,  I also roast my own beans, though I used to use the New Mexico Pinon Coffee that Trader Joes carried for espresso some of the time too.  I find that my own roast beats the packaged stuff like Lavazza for depth of flavor and complexity.  

 

You can take your espresso equipment in as complicated and expensive a direction as you like... but you can produce drinkable shots with some inexpensive equipment too... if you don't mind hand cranking a Hario ceramic grinder and doing the bicycle pump maneuvers to pressurize a Handpresso.  It is all about dialing in the important variables.  Grind, both degree and consistency, is of primary importance.  Second is temperature.  With a big espresso machine with brass boiler and big solid brew group the thermal mass is pretty big.  With a handheld like the Handpresso the difference in temperature between   hitting extract 3 seconds after filling it with boiling water and loading the grinds vs 10 seconds can be the difference between a great shot and an undrinkable one.  Heat dissipates that fast. 

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@jackmash: Curious, which espresso machine/grinder combo do you have? There may be someone here that knows the machine, so may help to narrow down your parameters?

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On 11/20/2018 at 10:23 AM, rotuts said:

my home-roast espresso , of all types , rests for 2 days after roasting.

 

peaks at flavor @  5 days after the roast , and at 7 declines.

 

I therefor roast , when i remember , one a week.

 

only takes 7.5. minutes to roast one heaping cup of green beans.

 

This will vary tremendously with different roast levels, and to a lesser degree with different coffees.

 

A rule of thumb is that the lighter the roast level, the longer it's going to take to offgass, so the longer it will be before it's ready (and before it's no good anymore). My favorite roaster roasts on the light side; his beans are ready for brewed coffee after about 7 days, and for espresso after about 10. They stay fresh-tasting for a good 10 or 14 days after this, although the flavor profile changes.

 

Darker roasting makes the hull of the bean more porous, so gasses leave faster, accelerating all these processes.

 

Natural process vs. wet process coffees differ here as well. The natural process beans may do better with a slightly longer rest than the more common wet processed beans. 

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To the OP, it doesn't sound like you're really talking about espresso, so these are general guidelines for any coffee process.

 

Coffee beans:

darker roast = more bitter (and up to a certain point, also more sweet)

lighter roast = less bitter, more acidic, more coffee origin flavors and aromas

 

Extraction:

Hotter water = more bitter (and up to a certain point, also more sweet)

Cooler water = less bitter, more acidic

The acceptable range is 90°C to 96°C. For brewed coffee, I like 93°F for the lighter roasted beans I favor. With some natural process beans (often my very favorite) I get the best balance as low as 90°C. 

 

Finer grind (drip) or longer extraction (press pot) = more bitter

Coarser grind (drip) or shorter extraction (press pot) = more sour, weaker development of flavors

 

Larger dose = heavier body, stronger flavor (if you go too far, subtler flavors will be masked, and it will be hard to know what you're tasting. It might not be obviously too strong).

Lower dose = lighter body, weaker flavor

The acceptable range is around 5% to 7.5% coffee relative to water (consider water to be 100%, so 7% means 7g coffee to 100g water)

I use 6.4% with a press pot. 

 

My advice would be to leave the water temperature and dose (brew ratio) alone in the beginning, and play with grind size. 93°C will be reasonable for any good coffee. As will a 6% brew ratio).

 

If you're using a press pot, grind size will be coarser, but really doesn't have to be as coarse as some suggest. Somewhere between the coarsest setting people recommend and drip-size works well. 4 minutes total brew time will give good results.

 

But first make sure the coffee is good. If it's overroasted, it's going to be bitter, and it's going to suck no matter what you do. There will be no way to balance bitterness and sourness or insipidness with it. This describes 90% of the coffee available at stores and everyday coffee shops in the US, so don't assume your coffee's ok just because it cost a lot or is convincingly branded. Coffee roasters should be presumed guilty unless proven otherwise. 


Edited by paulraphael (log)

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