Often lovers and connoisseurs of coffee drinks say “coffee”, referring specifically to espresso. This is one of the most common ways of brewing coffee, it is especially popular in Italy, where it was invented at the beginning of the XX century. Espresso” means “quick” and is greatly appreciated by the fact that it does not take long to brew.
There are only two ingredients in espresso: ground coffee and water. Coffee drinkers are convinced that its taste and aroma need no additives, sweetening it is like adding sugar to a collection of dry wine.
It’s the serving size that counts. The classic Italian version is 30 ml. In some countries, including Russia and Scandinavian countries, more water is used, 60-80 ml.
It’s not just black coffee without sugar. Espresso differs from regular coffee in having a golden crema on the surface, which is called crema. It is figuratively called coffee bean juice because it is really a flavorful extract obtained by running hot water through ground coffee. It is prepared in a coffee machine or in a coffee maker. The special technology makes the flavor rich and the consistency dense.
Many cocktails and desserts are prepared on the basis of a laconic recipe. The addition of milk, cream, spices or alcohol turns an espresso into a cappuccino, latte, glasse or raff. And the closest “relatives” are ristretto and lungo.
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The difference between a ristretto and an espresso is in volume and strength. A portion of ristretto is half the size of a standard espresso – only 15 ml. But it requires the same amount of ground grain – 7 grams. The grind has to be finer than for an espresso.
The amount of caffeine in a serving is less because the coffee powder does not have time to give all of its strength in 15 seconds of hot steam processing. But the essential oils pass into the water completely, so the taste and aroma are concentrated. Ristretto is usually made in the afternoon.
A cup of lungo is 50-60 ml of strong coffee with a pronounced bitterness. It requires 7 grams of coffee powder coarser than for espresso. It takes 60 seconds. This is how long it takes to brew, which is why it’s been called Lungo, meaning “long, long” in Italian.
The difference between a lungo and an espresso is also in strength. In a minute, the coffee powder gets very hot, and the caffeine passes into the water completely. A lungo is a large, strong cup of coffee without a subtle aroma that is suitable for morning wake-up.
In Italian, “espresso” also means “pressed.” When it is made, hot water under pressure is passed through the tamped coffee powder.
Choice of espresso machine
A true espresso can only be made with a pressure of 9 bars or more. Semi-automatic and automatic machines are the ideal solution. They also boast optimal water heating for an invigorating beverage, reaching 86-92 ° C. Hotter water will give a burnt taste, colder water will not brew the coffee.
A metal holder is preferable, as plastic ones smell when heated. You can make espresso coffee at home without a coffee machine if you have a quality carob coffee maker.
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Espresso blends often consist of 80% Arabica and 20% Robusta beans. The Arabica gives the drink its characteristic bouquet, while the Robusta gives it strength and density. Beans should be medium or dark roasted. Storage time is very important: old coffee will not have a rich bouquet, the necessary density and crema. One month after roasting the beans are no longer suitable.
Flavored beans are not suitable: essential oils precipitate on the internal parts of the coffee machine and may damage its operation.
A fine espresso grind is used. It is slightly coarser than for a turkey, but finer than for a geyser coffee maker. A finer grind will make the espresso too bitter or will clog the filter, while a coarser grind will not give the desired flavor or density to the beverage. The optimal size is fine salt.
Choice of water
The taste of espresso is not complemented by dairy, spicy or sweet components, so the quality of water is important. Simple tap water is not suitable. You’re better off with bottled drinking water, which has a mineral content of 100 mg/l. Harder water leads to scale formation on the heating elements of the coffee machine.
The calcium level should be between 51-68 mg/l and the sodium level about 10 mg/l. The presence of chlorine is not acceptable. The pH level is between 6.5 and 8. Improperly selected water can give a sour or bitter taste.
A classic recipe
To make espresso coffee properly, it’s not enough to have a modern technique. You need to have a knack for preparing the appliance to work. Skillful handling is just as important as having the right ingredients.
To make it, you’ll need:
- 7 g of ground coffee;
- 30 ml water.
Pour the coffee into the cone of a coffee maker or coffee machine, form a tablet (tamp with a temper). There should be a gap of 1-5 mm between the coffee powder and the strainer. The more homogeneous the powder and the flatter the surface, the better the quality of the spill and the tastier the drink.
Run hot (about 90 °C) water through coffee at 9 bar. If the amount of powder, tablet density and grind are correct, then a cup of flavored drink will be ready in 20-28 seconds.
If the result is not happy, and the quality of beans is not in doubt, it is worth experimenting with the grinding, weight of the powder, force of pressing. Cracks, channels and holes in the coffee tablet indicate a violation of technology.
A proper espresso is thick, opaque, with a steady crema of a nut color. It is poured into a heated 65-70 ml. thick-walled cup. It is to be drunk hot.
Is a turkey good?
You can’t make espresso at home in a still. A jesve keeps the coffee particles for a long time in the water which is heated gradually. The extraction of caffeine and essential substances takes place on a different principle. A good aroma and flavor can be achieved on the stove, but it won’t be espresso, it will be Turkish coffee.