We have all been there: that moment when a great idea crosses your mind. What if you can make your very own espresso at home? Imagine waking up in mornings with the air filled with that sweet roasted fragrance of a latte. How about lazy afternoons lounging in your patio or solar, indulging in a cup of Café Americano with some biscuits? Such is the good life.
It might sound easier said than done. Premium espresso orders in cafés come with a hefty price tag. Add that to the fact that making an espresso is no easy feat… in the past. Now, with the help of modern innovations, espresso lives up to its origins. A quick and breezy beverage that is rich and creamy with all the coffee goodness.
How do you make one? Well, there are plenty of options available for you first timers out there. There are automatic espresso machines that are probably the easiest choice, if not the first one that comes to mind. Some even roast and grind beans before making the actual espresso, giving you the whole process in one sitting! They are reasonably priced for all the convenience that they offer, so it should not be a stretch if you really want to try it out.
However, there are alternatives if you are feeling a bit adventurous or frugal (or both). If you would like to have more control with how you create your masterpiece espresso, you could always try a Moka Pot. It is a type of kettle crossed with a pressure cooker, which is designed to simulate the heat and pressure of a more traditional espresso maker. The most economical method though is by using a French Press. It is probably the cheapest among the bunch. Nevertheless, it will relatively require the most preparation.
The Art of Espresso
Now that we have gone through the different tools you could use, it is time to tackle the actual art of making your own cup of espresso. As with everything done in the kitchen, you will need measuring tools, a good amount of patience and a whole lot of love. Here we have arranged a step-by-step checklist of things you need to do to make that caffeine ambrosia:
- Everything starts with water – the importance of picking the right water for your espresso could not be overstated. For the best results, use distilled water.
- Choosing your shot – A single shot or 9 grams of coffee creates an espresso with pretty much the same consistency as drip coffee. A double shot is the more standard serving size for an espresso. You could opt for more shots depending on how much you want to make. Just make sure it will fit your espresso maker.
- Not too hot, not too cold – Ideal water temperatures, if you are opting for the manual methods, should be at 195-205ºF.
- Follow specific instructions – This part depends on which of the three methods you have actually used in making your espresso.
The most important aspect in espresso making is still choosing the right coffee for your brew. Some coffee lovers boldly proclaim that you can make espresso out of any coffee bean you fancy, and that is true. However, with that same mentality, you might be sacrificing the quality of your drink in the end. It is logical to conclude that the quality of your espresso in largely based on the quality of your coffee.
Buying the best beans
Most supermarkets have pre-ground coffee but almost all of these are used for drip coffee. These type of ground coffee have too large granules that could result in a thin beverage or worse, break an automatic espresso maker. Luckily for us, there are alternatives like home roasting (which we will discuss in the next part), ordering beans online, or buying the labeled espresso roasts in supermarkets.
You could buy pre-roasted whole beans and use the in-house grinder from the markets. However a word of caution: most of these grinders are un-calibrated. This would result in an uneven grind. Tο make the best espresso with smooth liquid texture, you would want to have uniformly ground beans the size of table salt granules. This is why having your own coffee grinder is the best option. You would get control over the size of the granules, which means you could also make coffee for other types of brews, not just an espresso.
Overall, if you are not going to roast your own coffee beans, try buying those beans labeled as espresso roasts. French roast beans and Java beans are also good alternatives. Avoid buying blends because they might contain flavors you would not want on your espresso.
Home roasting for espresso
With that said, what then are the best roasts for brewing your espresso? If you want to stick to tradition, espressos are usually brewed using the darkest roasts to better bring out the strong roast characteristics. This means if you are doing your own roasts, Italian or French roasts are the ideal roast level. If you are buying your coffee roasted, Full City is also a good alternative if you want something that is a bit on the medium to dark range.
Also, if you are doing your own roasting, try not to be too excited and brew the beans immediately. Freshly roasted beans may yield an espresso that is mostly crema (the frothy foam settling above the glass). This is because the gasses from the roasting process have not dissipated yet, creating more foam.
All hail the Coffee King
Espresso is not the most recent breakthrough in caffeine beverages but it is arguably the most popular, if not the most revered among them all. The espresso more than deserves the accolade because of its almost divine taste and character if done properly. Add that to the fact that you need not break the bank to enjoy the closest thing we have to real-life ambrosia. Thanks to technology, you now can enjoy this classic beverage in its entire splendor without much effort. It’s just a matter of preparation and choosing the best coffee beans. So why don’t you try it out and enjoy the king of coffee today.