Make good espresso and frothed milk at home…the following is an excerpt from an article at www.coffeebrewers.com, an excellent website that is all about coffee. This site offers a ton of really good coffee-making equipment for sale and interesting articles about all phases and aspects of coffee and coffee production:
Make good espresso and frothed milk at home
Many people enjoy a well-made (a professionally made) espresso, or latte, or cappuccino at home each morning. But there are a few practical problems with the scale of most home equipment. While large commercial machines will make high quality drinks in large quantities, it’s more difficult to make just one drink for yourself.
Can you make professional grade espresso at home”
In this article, we’ll give you some tips to help you emulate the advantages of a large, commercial system to get similar results from your household equipment. Some of these tips will require using some additional tools and gadgets with your espresso machine to get professional results. But these are all relatively inexpensive, and will transform the (perhaps) uninteresting drinks you currently get from your machine into the kinds of coffee drinks that you’d pay several dollars for at a real coffee shop.
Pulling a Shot – The espresso Itself:
When it comes to a plain espresso, there isn’t much that we can say. Your machine either makes good espresso, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, then either it can’t, or you’re not being careful enough about a few basics.
1. First, grind the coffee to a granularity that makes an extraction run for (about) 20-25 seconds; not more or less. If you’re not sure, you should use a timer to calibrate your shots. Less than 20 seconds, and your espresso will be weak; more than 25 seconds, and it will become bitter.
Tamp espresso grounds just right
2. Tamp the coffee grounds into the portafilter hard enough (and carefully enough) to make a uniformly compressed puck that will give you a consistent extraction. Again, if you’re not sure, you should have a REAL tamper, and (perhaps) a tamping mat to protect your counter. Note that the 20-25 second hint (above) assumes this. Tamping pressure should be 30-40 pounds. But before the heavy tamping, do a light tamp to make sure that the coffee is evenly distributed. Also, brush any remaining grounds off of the portafilter rim. These will wear out the group gasket if you don’t.
3. Make sure that your portafilter is pre-heated so that it doesn’t cool the extraction down when you’re pulling a shot. The commercial E61 group has hot-water channels that run through it to keep it hot. You should put the portafilter into the group and let it sit for a while to heat up. Or, run hot water through it to pre-heat it before loading it. Many baristas will pull an empty shot first before loading the portafilter with coffee. This is why.
4. Keep your equipment clean. You should clean the group and the portafilter with Cafiza periodically. And you should also take the screen off and hand clean it once in a while. Note that the screen will eventually need replacement if you use your machine a lot. This goes for the group gasket too.