I've got to say that coffee is the reason I wake up in the morning. Some people will call me an addict, but everybody has their vice. Mine just so happens to be coffee.
My morning coffee of choice is a double espresso, and when made right it takes me to my special place. I used to put up with the Russian roulette of buying my espresso from a local cafe, but I have settled with buying a dedicated machine and making the perfect cup every time.
How an espresso should taste, I have learned, depends entirely on the bean used, the temperature of the water and how coarsely the coffee is ground. In theory, the ideal espresso has a deep, richness (not bitter) with a sweetness lingering on the tongue, a creaminess from the crema and lingering complexity. I personally love my coffee to have a citrusy lingering flavour, and of course - a big kick of caffeine.
Sometimes an Espresso tastes sour or bitter - that means that the coffee has been under-extracted.
Here are some tips for making the perfect Espresso
It isn't actually as hard as you think to make the perfect tasting espresso. What you need is a good quality espresso machine and a little bit of practice to get the coffee to your tastes.
There are only 2 main ingredients you need for this: clean, 100% drinking water (spring is preferable) and fresh coffee beans. The coffee must be fresh, otherwise, you will not get the wonderful creme on the top of the espresso and the flavour won't be at its fullest.
The first step is to choose your bean - and it needs to be a very high quality, fresh bean that has all of the flavours you love. I personally love a dark roasted African bean because it gives me the best of both worlds; a rich flavour and floral aftertaste. If you need some recommendations then our team have written a fair few reviews around coffee beans from around the world.
It is best to avoid using pre-ground beans at all costs. Trust me - I've made that mistake before.
The grind of the coffee is also important for the perfect espresso. It is a fine balancing act between making the coffee fine enough to bring our all of the beautiful flavours, but not too much that the coffee becomes bitter or burned tasting. Make sure that you have ground the coffee very finely, almost to the consistency of salt/ sugar so that it is very fluffy, soft and aerated.
My machine has a little extraction head that holds about 20 grams of coffee. I like to place my heaped spoonful into my head and use the back of my spoon to flatten and compact the coffee. The idea is to flatten the coffee, but not pack it in so tightly that the water cannot flow through. If you are fancy then you may have a temper head or something else to make sure the coffee is perfectly compact and flatten the grinds.
Before fixing the coffee, let your machine run for a second to let some water flow through and clean out the pipes. I was also told to 'bloom' the coffee just before extraction, which means pouring a tiny amount of hot water on the top of the grind (just enough to seep into the coffee) and leave it for 1 - 2 minutes. Apparently, this helps bring much more out of the coffee.
Place the coffee in and let the machine run for about 20 - 30 seconds until you have a nice, creamy espresso. You can add extra water to make an americano or use the shot in another kind of coffee.