For many people, coffee is the only thing that gets them out of bed in the morning. For some people, it’s a necessity and a utility. They buy their coffee at the grocery store and like to have it when they’re getting ready to go to work. For others, coffee is more like artwork. They might buy their coffee at a grocery store, but they’re more likely to get it straight from a coffee shop or a high end dealer. They understand the chemistry of coffee and the way to make the best possible cup of coffee or espresso. Whether you’re a coffee drinker who just wants a normal cup, or you’re someone who tries to make the perfect cup of coffee, you’re going to need a good machine. A good machine is one that does everything you need to make a great cup.
Many have found that americano is actually ranked as one of the best tasting interpretations of coffee in blind taste tests. Americano is espresso mixed with hot water to a strength much like normal brewed coffee. The espresso extraction means it pulls all the flavours and oils out of the beans. It starts with the grind.
The very best coffee machines grind and tamp the beans for you, automating the most difficult parts of the espresso process. New research has found that you should put your beans in the freezer before you grind them. This solidifies the oils and moisture that give the coffee its flavour. However, that’s not necessary. You should start with whole beans though; the whole bean keeps its flavour for about a month, whereas ground coffee loses its flavour in about twenty minutes. Start with whole beans and grind them to a very fine consistency. This is best accomplished with an automated machine.
You then need to tamp the espresso grinds down in the machine. There are conflicting ideas about how much you should tamp it. You should tamp the grounds until they produce a consistent espresso pull of about fourteen seconds. That is going to differ depending on the strength of your machine, the consistency of your grind, and several other factors. That’s why it’s so helpful to have this automated. If it’s all automated, the machine will be calibrated to tamp properly for the grind and the pressure of the machine. That will help you pull a consistent espresso every time.
Amount of Pressure
Espresso differs from coffee in that it uses pressurised water to draw out the flavours. This results in a higher extraction of flavour, but it also could lead to bitter flavours. The very best machines have a feature that pre-infuses the coffee with water and also limits the amount of pressure. Ideally, the pressure will start off low and increase gradually, so that you can pull an espresso shot with a complex flavour profile that builds on itself.
Making great coffee starts with a great machine; you shouldn’t skimp on that. You stand to save a lot of money if you can make coffee shop quality coffee in your own home.