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Pro tips for the home barista

Posted by Carla Q on

1. Start with specialty coffee.
Walk straight past the coffee aisle at the supermarket as these beans were bagged months ago and wont give you the café-quality deliciousness you deserve. Coffee is at its peak between 5-14 days from roasting, so source fresh from a specialty coffee roaster.

A fresh, medium-dark espresso roast will provide the balance you need. Espresso brings acidity to the forefront so lighter roasts are not desirable for espresso extraction. Try our Enchanté and Heritage blends for a truly beautiful coffee experience.

 

2. Grind well
Grind size is important as it affects the rate of extraction of the flavour and aroma compounds from your coffee beans. The finer the grind size, the quicker extraction takes place. If your extraction is too fast, try a slightly coarser grind. It should take more or less 20–30 seconds to pull an espresso shot. This will give you a delicious, balanced cup. 

 

3. Scale up
If you are a beginner espresso maker, consider using a scale, rather than eyeballing your dose.

Start with a ratio of 20g Coffee yielding 45g of espresso but remember, the best recipe is the one that suits your taste. Using a scale to measure your coffee grinds before the shot and after will take out the guesswork and help standardise your espresso shots.

 

4. Tamp consistently
Consider using a distributor tool prior to tamping. If coffee grinds are packed too tightly in one area of the portafilter and too loosely in another, water will flow through the coffee grinds taking the path of least resistance. This will result in a mixture of over and under extracted coffee and undesirable flavours.

Pre-heat your portafilter so that it doesn’t cool the extraction down when you’re pulling the shot. Do this by either putting 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.

When you are ready to tamp, aim to do so with consistent pressure each time. About 10-15kg body weight is ideal, ensuring it is flat & even. A tamping mat will help protect your counter top.

Did your last shot extract too quickly? Avoid compensating by tamping harder next time and adjust your grind size instead. This assists in getting that coffee shot consistently good.

 

5. Water quality
Poor quality water can cause lime-scale build-up in your machine and reduce its performance.  Considering an Espresso shot is 98% water (with 2% soluble matter extracted from your coffee beans) it makes a difference to get the water right. If you are in a hard water area consider using filtered water or a carbon filter for best results.

 

6. Survey the shot
Set your timer as you start your shot. Coffee should be flowing out of each spout evenly, as a dark liquid at first, followed by a ‘blonding’ or lightening of the flow as the crema forms. If your shot ends too quickly or runs beyond 30 seconds, adjust the grind for next time.

 

7. Milkin’ it
Texturing milk for your coffee is hard if you choose a low fat option. Fat and protein is required to create silky textured milk so consider sticking to full fat when starting out. Some of the alternative milks offer lower calorie options and are specially designed to texturize well. Use a thermometer and aim for 60 degrees, nobody likes burned milk!

 

8. Keep it clean
Sure, you may have only had one coffee today, but before you know it you’ve had a few “one-coffee days” and your machine is a sludgy mess. Show your gear some respect and clean it after each use, will only enhance the quality of your results.

Keep your wipe down towels tidy too, one for the steam wand, one for the counter top and one for wiping our your portafilter. Avoid mixing these up for hygiene’s sake.

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Don’t be afraid to experiment in the name of delicious coffee. When you have a little spare time, play around, your taste buds will thank you. The journey is all part of the #craftingbeautiful process.

 

Home coffee machine

 Image courtesy Breville. www.breville.com.au

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