I’m not too proud to admit it. Back when I first started in coffee, it was a bit of a mystery and still to this day I can find it downright annoying. Sometimes it was sweet and luscious and then sometimes it tasted like a rusty pipe. Keep reading this post to find how to make consistently better tasting coffee.
I mean what gives coffee we’re meant to be friends. It took a while to work out coffee didn’t hate me, we just needed a better way to communicate. So today we’re talking about an espresso recipes, how they work, how we use them to make consistently good coffee on a day to day basis in any coffee bar.
So what is an espresso recipe? And just like anything in life, we need a set of guidelines that help us out. Just like pancakes. My go to recipe is one egg, one cup of flour, little bit of baking soda, a little bit of milk and a little bit of sugar.
And I have perfectly fluffy pancakes.
How to make consistently better tasing coffee - Scales
But how do we make a perfect espresso? We’re going to break it down into three parts. The amount of coffee in, the amount of coffee out and the time that the espresso runs. So for this coffee, I know that grinding 21 grams of coffee in and extracting 36 grams of espresso out in about 26 seconds we’ll make something super sweet, juicy and tastes a little bit like a strawberry malt milkshake. So to use an espresso recipe in a cafe you going to need a proper set of scales. And I like these guys here, the Acaia Pearl and Lunars.
Now the Acadia Pearls are big enough to fit a group on and they are rechargeable and splash proof. The Lunars are perfect for sitting on top of a drip tray throwing a couple of espresso cups on and they are also fully waterproof. Meaning if you manage to get a whole bunch of hot water over the top, all you do is wipe them clean and go again. Again, some other scales definitely worth a look, particularly if you’re trying to save a little bit of money. The Hario and also the Brewista smart scales are both really good scales in the marketplace as well.
Once you’ve got your scales, you’re ready to go. There are 6 main steps. So step one, grab your scales, throw a group handle on top and tare them off, that basically means, reset them to zero. Step two, put your group handle under your grinder and dose your coffee, bring it back to your scales and adjust it to the desired amount.
In this case we’re using 21 grams of coffee, distribute the coffee and tamp it. Step three, grab your other set of scales for your espresso cups and tare them off. Lock the group handle in and then press the button. Now if your machine has a timer of built-in, great, but if you don’t grab your iPhone or your vintage pocket watch and time that bad boy, because you want to know how long that espresso goes for.
At the very end, you’ll hear the machine stop pumping and that’s when you stop espresso to get the time that your espresso runs in. Now step five, if you need to make an adjustment, this is where you do it. If your coffee’s running too slow, that means your grind is too fine, meaning that the water is restricted and not coming through, so you need to make it coarser, so go up onto your grinder, have a look and your grind should tell you which way is coarse and which way is fine.
Make better tasing Espresso - Adjustments
Make a small adjustment. Of course, if your shot is running too fast, we’re going to make it finer to slow it down. Now step six, grind dose, time, repeat. This is time that you get to check your shot over and over again until you’re really happy with the time that it’s running and really happy ultimately with the flavour.
Now, something to be aware of here with any automatic grinder that grinds a certain amount of time to give you the amount of coffee things are going to change when you change the grind. So if you go finer, you’re putting more resistance on the blades, meaning in the time that it’s grinding, let’s say four and a half seconds, it’s going to grind less coffee. Of course, if you go coarser, you’re putting less resistance on the blades, meaning that it’s going to grind more coffee.
So at this point you’re going to have to adjust your time. Now this is going to take a little bit of trial and error, but over time you’ll get to understand how your grinder works and make those adjustments on the fly.
Now here’s a hot tip for any of you that listened in maths class at school or have a calculator handy, grab the grind time, and in this case, let’s say 5.6 seconds divided by the amount of coffee that it’s currently grinding. Let’s say 21.6 then times it by the amount that you want so in this case, 21 grams.
So 5.6 divided by 21.6 times 21 grams gives us 5.39 seconds. So what you can do is adjust your grinder to 5.39 or close enough. In some cases it’s going to be 5.4 and your grinder will grind 21 grams or close to that. Now I get this question a lot: do I need to weight every single shot or can I just do it now and then, the answer is simple. Yes, you can do it every now and then. If you’ve got your scales sitting next to your grinder, you can use them every 10 or 20 shots. Now of course, if you’ve got a machine like the La Marzocco Strada with the scales built in, that makes life a little bit easier because it’s going to extract exactly what you need. Let’s say 36 grams, but on a machine that doesn’t have scales built in, you will need to check it from time to time, but with a well calibrated machine, the thing that impacts the amount of expresso that you extract the most is the amount of coffee in.
So if you’re checking your coffee in the group handle every 10 to 20 shots, you’re going to have a really good idea of how well your grinder is performing. Now, good quality clean grinder will vary between 0.1 to 0.3 of a gram and for a milk blend, that’s okay. I’m not going to be too fussy about that. But if you have a big variation, you know that you may need to make an adjustment to the grind time or to the grinder itself. So that’s the basics of an espresso recipe, but I feel like you want to take it a little bit further. Next time we’re going to do exactly that.
We’re going to learn how to adjust an espresso by taste. So stay tuned to my coffee blog, post some questions in the comment box. What do you want to know about espresso recipes?
If you want quick tip on how to grind for espresso, watch the video below.