The Home Barista's Guide to Espresso - Coffee Prince in Surat

The Home Barista's Guide to Espresso - Coffee Prince in Surat

The Home Barista's Guide to Espresso - Coffee Prince in Surat


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<strong>The</strong> <strong>Home</strong> <strong>Barista's</strong><strong>Guide</strong> <strong>to</strong> <strong>Espresso</strong>By Jim SchulmanWho is this guide for?It isn't for someone sitt<strong>in</strong>g amidst the pack<strong>in</strong>g crates of their first espresso mach<strong>in</strong>e look<strong>in</strong>g for quicktips (the <strong>Espresso</strong> M<strong>in</strong>i-FAQmay serve that purpose). However, if you've discovered your love forespresso and realize no quick guide will get you <strong>to</strong> the perfect shot, you've found the right place. This isan <strong>in</strong>troduction <strong>to</strong> espresso by an enthusiast for the budd<strong>in</strong>g enthusiast. It is not just about techniquesand equipment, but also the reasons beh<strong>in</strong>d them.<strong>The</strong> knowledge and skills for great espresso are out there wait<strong>in</strong>g for you, and thanks <strong>to</strong> the Internetthey've gotten easier <strong>to</strong> f<strong>in</strong>d. But <strong>to</strong> an outsider, the discussion on web sites can seem like babble.<strong>Espresso</strong> equipment and preparation are argued over <strong>in</strong> m<strong>in</strong>ute detail, often with no <strong>in</strong>dication of the<strong>to</strong>pic's importance. And the taste of espresso is lauded or condemned with hyperbole worthy of a poet orw<strong>in</strong>e critic. But the seem<strong>in</strong>g loons post<strong>in</strong>g this stuff are mak<strong>in</strong>g some of the best espresso on the planet.Understand<strong>in</strong>g what they're talk<strong>in</strong>g about and be<strong>in</strong>g able <strong>to</strong> use their ideas <strong>in</strong> your own espresso mak<strong>in</strong>gis the best way <strong>to</strong> improve.This guide is long and sometimes op<strong>in</strong>ionated. I don't apologize foreither. It conveys the basic knowledge of the espresso community, aswell as some of its arguments and hot but<strong>to</strong>n <strong>to</strong>pics. More importantly,it teaches you the language we're speak<strong>in</strong>g and lets you jo<strong>in</strong> <strong>in</strong>.<strong>The</strong> guide's ma<strong>in</strong> <strong>to</strong>pic is mak<strong>in</strong>g real espresso and espresso dr<strong>in</strong>ks athome. <strong>The</strong> sad fact is, outside of Italy and the other Lat<strong>in</strong> espressomak<strong>in</strong>gcountries, few people have had real espresso. Most cafés selloverpriced hot milk with coffee flavor<strong>in</strong>g, and the majority of the mass market home espresso mach<strong>in</strong>esare designed <strong>to</strong> produce the same. For such dr<strong>in</strong>ks, espresso quality is irrelevant. <strong>The</strong>re have alwaysbeen a few great cafés outside the espresso countries, and thanks <strong>to</strong> the grow<strong>in</strong>g number ofenthusiasts, their number is grow<strong>in</strong>g <strong>to</strong>o. But even large cities are lucky if they have more than one ortwo. So for most of us who <strong>in</strong>sist on good espresso, the only option is <strong>to</strong> make it ourselves.Unfortunately, good espresso is not easy <strong>to</strong> make—it takes practice. Mass produced home espressomach<strong>in</strong>es are unequal <strong>to</strong> the task. A m<strong>in</strong>imal set-up capable of excellent shots will cost around US$500,and those capable of deliver<strong>in</strong>g consistency and a degree of ease cost $1000 and up. All I can say is thatthe taste is worth it.<strong>The</strong>re is an added bonus. <strong>The</strong> world of coffee is fasc<strong>in</strong>at<strong>in</strong>g and the people <strong>in</strong> it are wonderful. Becom<strong>in</strong>ggood at mak<strong>in</strong>g espresso means gett<strong>in</strong>g <strong>to</strong> know and appreciate that world and its people. And that isjust as reward<strong>in</strong>g as the taste of great coffee.

<strong>The</strong> guide is divided <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> this <strong>in</strong>troduction and four content pages. It beg<strong>in</strong>s with a short his<strong>to</strong>ry ofespresso and an overview of the contemporary scene. Next the guide turns <strong>to</strong> the first three of the "fourMs" of espresso: Miscela (coffee blend), Mac<strong>in</strong>acaffe (gr<strong>in</strong>der) and Macch<strong>in</strong>a (espresso mach<strong>in</strong>e).Skills of the barista,Mano, are then covered <strong>in</strong> considerable detail, <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>structions for mak<strong>in</strong>gcappucc<strong>in</strong>os and lattes. Lastly, the guide offers a selected set of l<strong>in</strong>ks that will get you started on thecoffee Internet.If you're an old hand on the coffee Internet, much <strong>in</strong> this guide will be familiar. But the list of tips <strong>in</strong> theshot diagnostic section is more comprehensive than any I've run across, and may conta<strong>in</strong> some that arenew <strong>to</strong> you. <strong>The</strong> his<strong>to</strong>ry section has my take on where espresso is head<strong>in</strong>g and may be good for somelaughs, especially <strong>in</strong> about five year's time.F<strong>in</strong>ally, a word on the reliability of the <strong>in</strong>formation <strong>in</strong> this guide. <strong>The</strong> basic facts are accurate <strong>to</strong> the bes<strong>to</strong>f my knowledge. <strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>formation on how mach<strong>in</strong>e sett<strong>in</strong>gs and options or shot mak<strong>in</strong>g variations affecttaste is based on the consensus of the espresso community, and has worked <strong>in</strong> my own practice.However, there are always disagreements, and <strong>in</strong> some cases, the evidence is meager. In other words,this guide will get you started mak<strong>in</strong>g excellent espresso, but is far from the f<strong>in</strong>al word. Once you havebecome confident <strong>in</strong> your technique and taste, I urge you <strong>to</strong> try out alternatives and judge for yourself.A Short His<strong>to</strong>ry of<strong>Espresso</strong><strong>The</strong> term café-espress has been used s<strong>in</strong>ce the 1880s, well before espresso mach<strong>in</strong>es existed. It meanscoffee made <strong>to</strong> order,expressly for the person order<strong>in</strong>g it. It also means coffee fresh <strong>in</strong> every sense ofthe word: Made from fresh beans roasted at most two weeks prior <strong>to</strong> use, Ground just before brew<strong>in</strong>g, Brewed just before dr<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g.Ideally, all cafés and restaurants would serve even their regularly brewed coffee as espresso <strong>in</strong> thislarger sense—freshly ground <strong>in</strong> press pots, neopolitans, vacuum brewers or table <strong>to</strong>p pourovers. <strong>The</strong>aroma of good coffee is delicate and dissipates <strong>in</strong> a matter of m<strong>in</strong>utes after gr<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g, whether it isbrewed or not.People are <strong>in</strong> a hurry. For many workers, wait<strong>in</strong>g five m<strong>in</strong>utes for coffee <strong>to</strong> brew is <strong>to</strong>o long. <strong>The</strong>y werealso <strong>in</strong> a hurry 100 years ago when <strong>in</strong>ven<strong>to</strong>rs started look<strong>in</strong>g for faster ways <strong>to</strong> brew coffee <strong>to</strong> order. Itbe<strong>in</strong>g the age of steam, the first attempts used steam rather than water. A steam brew<strong>in</strong>g contraptionat the 1896 World's Fair is said <strong>to</strong> have made 3000 cups per hour. Unfortunately, steam-brewed coffeetastes awful s<strong>in</strong>ce coffee generally needs <strong>to</strong> brew at just below boil<strong>in</strong>g (195-205°F or 90-96°C) <strong>to</strong> tasteits best. In 1901, the Italian <strong>in</strong>ven<strong>to</strong>r Luigi Bezzera came up with a workable solution. Pavonimanufactured these first espresso mach<strong>in</strong>es <strong>in</strong> 1905.

Café Reggio's PavoniThis mach<strong>in</strong>e was also steam powered. However, the steam does not come<strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> contact with the coffee. Instead, steam pressure at the <strong>to</strong>p of the boilerforces water at the bot<strong>to</strong>m of the boiler through ground coffee. <strong>The</strong> coffee isheld <strong>in</strong> a groupconsist<strong>in</strong>g of a portafilter, a metal filter basket andremovable brass mount, and a brew head <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> which the portafilter attaches.<strong>The</strong> pip<strong>in</strong>g and group were designed <strong>to</strong> act as heat radia<strong>to</strong>rs, so thetemperature of the pressurized water dropped from 250°F (120°C) <strong>in</strong> theboiler <strong>to</strong> the correct brew<strong>in</strong>g temperature at the grouphead. This brew<strong>in</strong>gpr<strong>in</strong>ciple is still used <strong>in</strong> s<strong>to</strong>ve<strong>to</strong>p mochapots. S<strong>in</strong>ce the water was pressurized,the coffee could be ground f<strong>in</strong>er than <strong>in</strong> a regular pourover brewer, reduc<strong>in</strong>gthe m<strong>in</strong>imum brew<strong>in</strong>g cycle from about 4 m<strong>in</strong>utes <strong>to</strong> 30 seconds. <strong>Espresso</strong>mach<strong>in</strong>es and their accompany<strong>in</strong>g coffee gr<strong>in</strong>ders became the standardequipment for mak<strong>in</strong>g coffee <strong>in</strong> Italy, Southern France, Spa<strong>in</strong> and Lat<strong>in</strong>America. In other parts of the world, it followed Italian immigrants whopopularized it <strong>in</strong> each country they settled.But technology moves on, and this method is no longer regarded as specifically espresso, althoughmochapots and other steam pressured brewers cont<strong>in</strong>ue <strong>to</strong> be marketed under the name. In the 1920sthrough the 1940s, Italian eng<strong>in</strong>eers experimented with pump<strong>in</strong>g devices <strong>to</strong> <strong>in</strong>crease the brew<strong>in</strong>gpressure. <strong>The</strong> first practical one was developed by Cremonesi <strong>in</strong> 1938 and manufactured by AchilleGaggia <strong>in</strong> 1946. It used a hand powered pis<strong>to</strong>n. On mach<strong>in</strong>es of this type, steam pressure <strong>in</strong> the boilerforces the water <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> a cyl<strong>in</strong>der, but then it is pressurized further by a spr<strong>in</strong>g-powered pis<strong>to</strong>n <strong>to</strong> about 8<strong>to</strong> 9 bar (120 <strong>to</strong> 135 PSI), or 8 <strong>to</strong> 9 times the pressure that had been developed by the steam mach<strong>in</strong>es.<strong>The</strong> spr<strong>in</strong>g that powers the pis<strong>to</strong>n is compressed by a lever forced down by the barista (Italian forbarkeep)—the person mak<strong>in</strong>g the coffee. As with the older generation mach<strong>in</strong>es, these lever groups aredesigned <strong>to</strong> cool the water from boiler <strong>to</strong> brew<strong>in</strong>g temperature.Now we have modern espresso <strong>in</strong> the restricted sense of the term—coffee brewed with water at 8 <strong>to</strong> 9 bar pressure between 90°C <strong>to</strong>96°C. This technology also expla<strong>in</strong>s why modern espresso uses thesame amount <strong>in</strong> a small one ounce dr<strong>in</strong>k as was previously used <strong>in</strong>2½ ounce demitasse espressos or five ounce regular cups of coffee.<strong>The</strong> pressurization cyl<strong>in</strong>der could only hold that much water,otherwise the arm strength required <strong>to</strong> compress the spr<strong>in</strong>g wouldhave been prohibitive. F<strong>in</strong>ally, if it's done just right, the addedbrew<strong>in</strong>g pressure creates a nice layer of foam over the coffeecalled crema.Early Gaggia lever mach<strong>in</strong>eWhat's this scum on my coffee?!?Legend has it that the first patrons <strong>to</strong> dr<strong>in</strong>k the new potion at Gaggia's coffee bar didn't th<strong>in</strong>k it was sonice. <strong>The</strong>y asked, "What's this scum (sciuma - foam) on my coffee?" So <strong>in</strong> a market<strong>in</strong>g ploy, Gaggiacalled the new dr<strong>in</strong>k "caffè crema" <strong>in</strong>stead of espresso. For about a decade, espresso mach<strong>in</strong>es weremade with some groups us<strong>in</strong>g the old style one bar steam pressure and others us<strong>in</strong>g the new-fangledn<strong>in</strong>e bar spr<strong>in</strong>g-lever pressure. But <strong>in</strong> time, the new style won out and became the true espresso. <strong>The</strong>term "caffè crema" died out, only <strong>to</strong> be revived for another style of coffee dr<strong>in</strong>k by the Swiss <strong>in</strong> the 80s.

Faema E61<strong>The</strong> next <strong>in</strong>novations were commercialized <strong>in</strong> 1961 by Faema.Instead of a pis<strong>to</strong>n situated between the boiler and groundcoffee, they used an electric pump <strong>to</strong> move cold water through aheat exchanger that traversed the boiler <strong>to</strong> the grouphead. <strong>The</strong>heat exchanger was designed <strong>to</strong> heat the water <strong>to</strong> the correctbrew<strong>in</strong>g temperature. S<strong>in</strong>ce the group was no longer used <strong>to</strong>cool the water, it <strong>to</strong>o had <strong>to</strong> be held at the correct brew<strong>in</strong>gtemperature. Faema used a hot water circulation system <strong>to</strong> keepthe group hot; other manufacturers used a hot water jacket orkept the group <strong>in</strong> close thermal contact with the boiler for thesame purpose.<strong>The</strong> cyl<strong>in</strong>der on lever groups only held an ounce of water, limit<strong>in</strong>g the volume that could be used <strong>to</strong>prepare an espresso. <strong>The</strong>re are no such limits for an electric pump. So why hasn't espresso gone back <strong>to</strong>be<strong>in</strong>g a regular or demitasse cup of coffee, only brewed more quickly us<strong>in</strong>g pressure? This is preciselywhat the Swiss do for the dr<strong>in</strong>k now called a café crema. However, by the time the newer electric pumpmodels came out, espresso had become its own dr<strong>in</strong>k category, and people had developed a taste forthe "little cup." <strong>The</strong> only change <strong>to</strong> espresso created by electric pump mach<strong>in</strong>es is the <strong>in</strong>troduction of thedouble espresso—double the water and double the coffee for a dr<strong>in</strong>k with the identical concentration andtaste.<strong>Home</strong> lever mach<strong>in</strong>es had been designed s<strong>in</strong>ce the 1960s, but they didn't achieve a mass marketbecause of two severe shortcom<strong>in</strong>gs: the groups were <strong>to</strong>o small, so the coffee would overheat after afew shots, and the shortened levers required considerable arm strength. <strong>The</strong> next big breakthroughcame <strong>in</strong> the late 1970s. A company called Ulka <strong>in</strong>troduced a small, <strong>in</strong>expensive pump that could stillproduce the pressure required by modern espresso. This made affordable and small home pumpespresso mach<strong>in</strong>es a practical possibility. Gaggia and Quick Mill brought out the first models and manyother manufacturers soon followed.Today's<strong>Espresso</strong> SceneKees van der Westen'sLa Marzocco based SpeedsterWe are currently experienc<strong>in</strong>g a new wave of <strong>in</strong>novation asthe electronics revolution is catch<strong>in</strong>g up with coffeemach<strong>in</strong>es. <strong>The</strong>re are fully au<strong>to</strong>mated, push but<strong>to</strong>n espressomach<strong>in</strong>es which gr<strong>in</strong>d and make a fresh shot or cup <strong>in</strong> one<strong>to</strong>uch. <strong>The</strong>y do a better job than poorly tra<strong>in</strong>ed people, butnot as good as the best tra<strong>in</strong>ed baristas. Electronics arealso prompt<strong>in</strong>g a wave of new manual mach<strong>in</strong>e designs thatallow more precision and adjustment of both brew<strong>in</strong>gtemperature and pressure.Will this new wave aga<strong>in</strong> redef<strong>in</strong>e what we call an espresso? Perhaps it will, and probably it should.

First, a development on the technical side: A good contemporary espresso has a layer of crema, butmuch of the coffee is still liquid. However, every espresso hound has experienced shots that are almostall foam and stable for long enough <strong>to</strong> dr<strong>in</strong>k as such. Increas<strong>in</strong>g precision <strong>in</strong> the brew<strong>in</strong>g technology isallow<strong>in</strong>g such all-foam shots <strong>to</strong> become the standard.<strong>The</strong>re is also a more radical change on the horizon. <strong>Espresso</strong> brew<strong>in</strong>g has a weakness. While it doeswonders for rather ord<strong>in</strong>ary, low grown, low acid coffees from Brazil and Indonesia, it produces <strong>to</strong>o sourand acrid a taste when used with most of the f<strong>in</strong>est high grown, high acid coffees from Central Americaor Africa. <strong>The</strong>se "grand cru" coffees still have <strong>to</strong> be brewed <strong>in</strong> the old-fashioned way, or used <strong>in</strong> onlysmall amounts for espresso blends. I hope that changes <strong>in</strong> technique, gr<strong>in</strong>der and mach<strong>in</strong>e design willsoon br<strong>in</strong>g the very best coffees <strong>to</strong> the little cup.Why do I th<strong>in</strong>k this will happen?<strong>The</strong> current espresso-mak<strong>in</strong>g technique was developed <strong>in</strong> Italy, where espresso is cheap and regardedas the equivalent of take-out coffee. <strong>The</strong>y have ref<strong>in</strong>ed it <strong>to</strong> the po<strong>in</strong>t where there is no better way <strong>to</strong>prepare everyday coffees. But <strong>in</strong> the rest of the world, the situation is very different. <strong>Espresso</strong> is sold asa premium dr<strong>in</strong>k because it is so much better than the local everyday coffees. This has created a largenumber of espresso enthusiasts whose attitude often bewilders Italians. With the advent of the Internet,these enthusiasts, comprised of both professionals and their amateur cus<strong>to</strong>mers, have come <strong>to</strong>getherand are improv<strong>in</strong>g on the state of the art. Manufacturers serv<strong>in</strong>g this market make more precisemach<strong>in</strong>es; roasters use higher quality coffees <strong>in</strong> their espresso blends; and baristas push the envelopeof skill, especially s<strong>in</strong>ce the advent of the Barista World Championships. In this friendly competition <strong>to</strong>be the best, people will want <strong>to</strong> use the most premium coffees they can and demand equipment able <strong>to</strong>unlock their wonders. Most of the new <strong>in</strong>nova<strong>to</strong>rs will probably not be Italian, although it will probablybe Italian manufacturers that make use of the discoveries.But there is also a loom<strong>in</strong>g shadow—the number of coffee dr<strong>in</strong>kers is decl<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g. Mass coffee marketeershave misread the coffee market for the last fifty years, and their products have become ever cheaperand more vile. Few people new <strong>to</strong> coffee would knowl<strong>in</strong>gly choose <strong>to</strong> dr<strong>in</strong>k Folgers or Maxwell House asthey are now. <strong>The</strong> specialty coffee roasters of the 80s did create a new, younger coffee public, but theynow have been sidetracked <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> pander<strong>in</strong>g with ever more massive and sweet milk concoctionsmislabeled as espresso. <strong>The</strong>se dr<strong>in</strong>ks are gradually mov<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> Coke and Pepsi's turf, and when thesegiants f<strong>in</strong>ally notice and br<strong>in</strong>g the stuff out <strong>in</strong> cans at fifty cents a pop, even Starbucks is go<strong>in</strong>g <strong>to</strong> getsquashed. <strong>Espresso</strong> is <strong>in</strong> danger of becom<strong>in</strong>g just another soft dr<strong>in</strong>k flavor.<strong>The</strong> widen<strong>in</strong>g range of equipment and beverages labeled as 'espresso' has prompted specialty coffeeassociations <strong>to</strong> issue standards for genu<strong>in</strong>e espresso. Here is a l<strong>in</strong>k <strong>to</strong> the Italian and thebest American standard. <strong>The</strong>se standards are excellent, but nevertheless, I have some problems withthem: Be<strong>in</strong>g voluntary, they do noth<strong>in</strong>g <strong>to</strong> curtail the misuse of the term 'espresso' by the worst elements of the<strong>in</strong>dustry, Hav<strong>in</strong>g been adopted by the best baristas for competition, the best cafés for their practice, and the bestmanufacturers for equipment design, they may <strong>in</strong>hibit the cream of the <strong>in</strong>dustry from <strong>in</strong>novat<strong>in</strong>g,

Hav<strong>in</strong>g been negotiated by large <strong>in</strong>dustry players, these standards do not specify freshly roasted, freshly groundcoffee, and thereby get the details right while miss<strong>in</strong>g the ma<strong>in</strong> po<strong>in</strong>t: fresh coffee. <strong>Coffee</strong> freshly roasted, ground,and prepared is the one th<strong>in</strong>g that cannot be canned and mass marketed. It should be the first l<strong>in</strong>e<strong>in</strong> every espresso specification.If you are read<strong>in</strong>g this, it's likely you are an actual or budd<strong>in</strong>g espresso enthusiast. <strong>The</strong> latest<strong>in</strong>novations have been driven and even developed by amateur and professional enthusiasts. It is alsoenthusiasts who can put a brake <strong>to</strong> the bastardization of coffee and espresso <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> ever more <strong>in</strong>ane softdr<strong>in</strong>ks. My fervent hope is that this <strong>in</strong>troduction <strong>to</strong> the art of home espresso will help.Introduction <strong>to</strong><strong>Espresso</strong> BlendsFirst, if you can't tell the difference between a Panamanian and Papua New Gu<strong>in</strong>ean coffee, put off theespresso and get <strong>to</strong> know good coffee first. Buy a freshly roasted half pound each from Central America,Africa, South America, and Indonesia, and learn <strong>to</strong> appreciate their differences. Those who buy thegreen coffees for espresso, those who roast and blend them, and those who pull the best shots have oneth<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> common: they know their coffee well. In any case, espresso is coffee <strong>in</strong>tensified; if there arecoffees you dislike brewed, you really want <strong>to</strong> avoid them <strong>in</strong> espresso.Second, go <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> a coffee s<strong>to</strong>re and look for "espresso roast." What you'll almost always f<strong>in</strong>d is darkbrown <strong>to</strong> black beans sh<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> oil. Starbucks' success has re<strong>in</strong>forced the impression that espresso isany coffee roasted very dark. This is wrong on almost all counts. <strong>Coffee</strong> blends dest<strong>in</strong>ed for espressocome <strong>in</strong> a variety of roasts, rang<strong>in</strong>g from a milk chocolate colored dry bean, <strong>to</strong> a dark chocolate coloredslightly oil-sheened bean, <strong>to</strong> a black and very oily bean. <strong>The</strong> very lightest roasts for regular brew<strong>in</strong>g(c<strong>in</strong>namon or tan colored) cannot be used for espresso, but otherwise any roast level will work.Instead, espresso is almost always a blend of beans, and the Italian word for this section, miscela,means blend. <strong>The</strong>re is fairly wide latitude <strong>in</strong> blend<strong>in</strong>g, but there are also some general rules. <strong>The</strong> mostbasic rule of espresso blend<strong>in</strong>g is that espresso must have subdued acidity, be heavy bodied, and besweet enough <strong>to</strong> balance the bitter and acidic flavors <strong>in</strong> the blend.At the <strong>Coffee</strong> PlantationA large proportion of the blend will consist of "natural" or "pulpednatural"processed beans from Brasil, Indonesia, Ethiopia, orYemen. Natural or "dry processed" means the coffee cherry is airdried on the tree or on terraces prior <strong>to</strong> remov<strong>in</strong>g the sk<strong>in</strong> andfruit from the pit (the actual coffee bean). Pulped-natural or"semi-wet processed" means the sk<strong>in</strong> is removed, but the fruitrema<strong>in</strong>s on the bean while it is dry<strong>in</strong>g. <strong>The</strong>se techniques createthe more heavy bodied, sweet, and subdued acidity coffeesrequired by espresso brew<strong>in</strong>g. Such coffees also develop more crema. S<strong>in</strong>gle orig<strong>in</strong>, unblended espressois almost always derived from a bean of this type. <strong>The</strong> drawback of these techniques, even whencarefully done, is they create a few fermented beans with off-flavors that slightly muddy the aroma andtaste.

<strong>The</strong> alternative, known as wet process<strong>in</strong>g, washes the sk<strong>in</strong> and fruit off the bean prior <strong>to</strong> dry<strong>in</strong>g. Thisprocess produces less sweet, more acidic coffees, which generally would be unsuitable for espresso ifused pure. However, s<strong>in</strong>ce these beans often have beautifully clean and powerful floral and fruityaromas and tastes, they are used <strong>in</strong> smaller proportions <strong>in</strong> more expensive blends <strong>to</strong> enhance the moresubdued taste of dry processed beans. When these beans are used, the coffee is usually roasted at thelighter end of the espresso spectrum, s<strong>in</strong>ce dark roast<strong>in</strong>g destroys their aromatics.F<strong>in</strong>ally, some espresso blends use Robusta coffees, which derive from a different species of coffee treefound at lower altitudes and hav<strong>in</strong>g higher yields. <strong>The</strong>se coffees are generally less expensive than theArabicas discussed above. Low grade Robustas can add body, sweetness, and above all, very strongcrema <strong>to</strong> an espresso. But they do so at the expense of hav<strong>in</strong>g an unpleasant, burnt rubber smell. Highgrade Robustas do not have this offensive odor, but will usually muffle the other aromatics. <strong>The</strong>ir use iscontroversial. Many very gifted espresso professionals use Robustas, while many others would never<strong>to</strong>uch them.At the RoasterDifferent roasters have different blend<strong>in</strong>g strategies. Some use only two <strong>to</strong> four different coffees; theseblends can have very dist<strong>in</strong>ct tastes and will vary a lot year <strong>to</strong> year. Other roasters will try <strong>to</strong> keep theblend's taste the same year <strong>in</strong>, year out. <strong>The</strong>y will do this by us<strong>in</strong>g seven <strong>to</strong> twelve different coffees,many from different plantations <strong>in</strong> the same country and region, so as <strong>to</strong> average out the annualvariations of coffees from any one plantation.As with all coffee, espresso blends are always best when used with<strong>in</strong> two weeks of roast<strong>in</strong>g. Unlikeregular brew<strong>in</strong>g, the carbon dioxide <strong>in</strong> the beans <strong>in</strong> the first day or two after roast<strong>in</strong>g can sometimes<strong>in</strong>terfere with the espresso extraction, so many cafés allow the coffee <strong>to</strong> rest 48 hours prior <strong>to</strong> use.My ma<strong>in</strong> advice is <strong>to</strong> first f<strong>in</strong>d several good local roasters. Try many different espresso blends, vary<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong>roast levels, use of Robusta (or not), level of acidity, or use of wet processed coffees, and then decidefor yourself which styles you like most. Ask the roasters about what's <strong>in</strong> the blend; the exact recipes areusually proprietary, but they will be happy <strong>to</strong> give you general <strong>in</strong>formation so you can develop an<strong>in</strong>formed preference. If you home roast, try various dry or semi-wet processed Brasils, Indonesians,Ethiopian and Yemen coffees, and create a blend<strong>in</strong>g base from your favorites among these. <strong>The</strong>n addsmall amounts of your favorite wet processed, high grown Arabica <strong>to</strong> give it some dist<strong>in</strong>ctiveness. If thislater coffee is exceptionally sweet and low acid, more than the usual 10% <strong>to</strong> 20% can be used.S<strong>in</strong>gle Orig<strong>in</strong> <strong>Espresso</strong>As mentioned earlier, most washed, high grown coffees are unsuitable for espresso either straight or <strong>in</strong>high proportions <strong>in</strong> a blend. In my op<strong>in</strong>ion, this shows that espresso technology requires furtherdevelopment. It would be absurd if you tried <strong>to</strong> buy a coffee and were <strong>to</strong>ld it was <strong>to</strong>o strong <strong>to</strong> beprepared <strong>in</strong> a presspot.However, espresso technology has advanced far enough so that some high-grown, washed coffees canmake <strong>in</strong>terest<strong>in</strong>g and sometimes spectacular shots. <strong>The</strong>se usually don't have the balance of conventional

lends, but can have far more <strong>in</strong>terest<strong>in</strong>g aromas and tastes. Low <strong>to</strong>ned, sweet coffees, even those fromregions usually not regarded as suitable for espresso, are always worth try<strong>in</strong>g as s<strong>in</strong>gle orig<strong>in</strong> shots. <strong>The</strong>research that could adapt espresso equipment <strong>to</strong> the full range of coffees won't happen until morepeople try these, develop an appreciation for them, and form a market for roasters, cafés, andmanufacturers push<strong>in</strong>g the envelope.Water for <strong>Espresso</strong>F<strong>in</strong>ally, a note about water, the other constituent of good coffee and espresso. Water for coffee shouldbe pure and odor free. Charcoal filter<strong>in</strong>g <strong>to</strong> remove chlor<strong>in</strong>e and sediments from municipal water is agood idea. Further filter<strong>in</strong>g is required if the water is from a well hav<strong>in</strong>g iron, sulfur, heavy metals, ororganic contam<strong>in</strong>ants. Alternatively, consider bottled water.Note that "pure water" <strong>in</strong> this case does not mean distilled or free of all m<strong>in</strong>erals. Natural water conta<strong>in</strong>scalcium carbonate and some magnesium carbonate; these constitute the water's hardness. Overly soft(low m<strong>in</strong>eral) water will create a light bodied, metallic and excessively bright tast<strong>in</strong>g shot. Overly hard(high m<strong>in</strong>eral) water will scale the mach<strong>in</strong>e, while the chalk<strong>in</strong>ess of the calcium carbonates precipitat<strong>in</strong>gas the water heats will <strong>in</strong>terfere with proper extraction. <strong>The</strong> best coffee water has about 5 gra<strong>in</strong>s (90mg/L) hardness and 150 mg/L <strong>to</strong>tal m<strong>in</strong>eral content. For espresso mach<strong>in</strong>es, water at about 3 gra<strong>in</strong>s (50mg/L) and 90 mg/L <strong>to</strong>tal m<strong>in</strong>eral content is used <strong>to</strong> reduce descal<strong>in</strong>g costs. This is a compromise on theideal water for espresso, but the 90 mg/L shots are almost <strong>in</strong>dist<strong>in</strong>guishable from shots with the higher150 mg/L m<strong>in</strong>eral content. If your tap water is excessively hard or soft, look <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> bottled water or watertreatment options, many of which are not expensive.Introduction <strong>to</strong><strong>Espresso</strong> Gr<strong>in</strong>ders<strong>The</strong>re is only one th<strong>in</strong>g every espresso expert agrees on: <strong>The</strong> gr<strong>in</strong>der is the s<strong>in</strong>gle most important pieceof coffee equipment you'll buy, and the last place you'd want <strong>to</strong> skimp. This has a simple reason—thecoffee gr<strong>in</strong>d is both the most critical and the weakest l<strong>in</strong>k <strong>in</strong> espresso mak<strong>in</strong>g. It is critical, s<strong>in</strong>ce unlikeregular brew<strong>in</strong>g, the gr<strong>in</strong>der adjustment determ<strong>in</strong>es both the espresso's extraction rate and it's brew<strong>in</strong>gtime. <strong>The</strong> gr<strong>in</strong>der is the weakest l<strong>in</strong>k because ground coffee is anyth<strong>in</strong>g but uniform.Gr<strong>in</strong>der AdjustabilityWhen brew<strong>in</strong>g, there's two time fac<strong>to</strong>rs—the amount of time the coffee should brew, and the amount oftime it does brew. <strong>The</strong> gr<strong>in</strong>d f<strong>in</strong>eness determ<strong>in</strong>es how long it should brew—the f<strong>in</strong>er the gr<strong>in</strong>d, the fasterthe proper brew time. Less brew time is better when the gr<strong>in</strong>d is f<strong>in</strong>er because more surface area is <strong>in</strong>contact with the water and the coffee solubles dissolve more quickly. But for most brew<strong>in</strong>g methods, theamount of time it does brew is determ<strong>in</strong>ed by you s<strong>in</strong>ce you can choose <strong>to</strong> pour through the filter fasteror slower, let the French press brew longer or shorter, etc. This means for non-espresso preparation,you can stick <strong>to</strong> one gr<strong>in</strong>d and pick a brew<strong>in</strong>g time <strong>to</strong> match.In espresso, the gr<strong>in</strong>d f<strong>in</strong>eness also determ<strong>in</strong>es the brew<strong>in</strong>g time, but does so <strong>in</strong> the opposite directionfrom the time it should brew. <strong>The</strong> f<strong>in</strong>er the gr<strong>in</strong>d, the more the coffee puck resists the flow, and thelonger it takes <strong>to</strong> brew the same amount of espresso. But the f<strong>in</strong>er the gr<strong>in</strong>d, the quicker the coffee

solubles extract. In other words, there is only one correct gr<strong>in</strong>d sett<strong>in</strong>g that gets just the correct tim<strong>in</strong>g,and even small deviations screws it up, giv<strong>in</strong>g you either an over or underextracted espresso. Inpractice, good baristas will frequently make m<strong>in</strong>ute adjustments <strong>to</strong> the gr<strong>in</strong>d <strong>to</strong> keep it at the sweet spotas beans age, and ambient conditions change.Experience shows that the correct tim<strong>in</strong>g for espresso is brew<strong>in</strong>g one ounce s<strong>in</strong>gles or two ouncedoubles <strong>in</strong> about 25 <strong>to</strong> 30 seconds; gr<strong>in</strong>d f<strong>in</strong>eness should be selected <strong>to</strong> produce this volume <strong>in</strong> thistime. <strong>The</strong>re are a few th<strong>in</strong>gs the barista can do <strong>to</strong> compensate for a slightly off gr<strong>in</strong>d, which I'll discusslater <strong>in</strong> the Mano section. But these tricks are limited; <strong>in</strong> practice one needs a gr<strong>in</strong>der with lots ofavailable sett<strong>in</strong>gs.Many home gr<strong>in</strong>ders only have 10 <strong>to</strong> 20 sett<strong>in</strong>gs over the entire range from f<strong>in</strong>e <strong>to</strong> coarse. Thistranslates <strong>to</strong> about 2 <strong>to</strong> 4 sett<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>in</strong> the espresso range, which is not enough <strong>to</strong> get the gr<strong>in</strong>d right. Anespresso gr<strong>in</strong>der either needs a stepless adjustment, or at least 40 sett<strong>in</strong>gs over the entire range <strong>in</strong>order <strong>to</strong> work well.Gr<strong>in</strong>d QualityIn theory, if all the ground coffee had the sameparticle size, it would all brew at the same rateand you could get a perfect extraction. If thegr<strong>in</strong>d size is not uniform, the smaller particlesoverextract, the larger ones underextract, andthe result is less than perfect. Unfortunately,coffee is brittle and shatters as it is ground. Soeven the best contemporary gr<strong>in</strong>ders produce awide distribution of particle sizes. Moreover,some size variation is required for the mechanics of the espresso puck. If all the particles had the samesize, there would be large gaps <strong>in</strong> the coffee puck, and the pressurized water would gush through. Awide distribution of sizes creates a dense pack that resists the flow and allows proper extraction. This isprobably the reason why high grown coffees don't do well as espresso s<strong>in</strong>ce their f<strong>in</strong>es (smallest, dustlike gr<strong>in</strong>d particles) create a very acrid taste.<strong>The</strong> very best gr<strong>in</strong>ders are commercial conical burr gr<strong>in</strong>ders. <strong>The</strong>se produce elongated particles whichpack well, and fewer f<strong>in</strong>es. <strong>The</strong>y are currently very expensive and beyond the reach of almost all homeespresso enthusiasts.Commercial flat burr gr<strong>in</strong>ders are nearly as good, although they produce slightly more f<strong>in</strong>es and a moremetallic taste with high grown coffees. However, smaller models are only one-third <strong>to</strong> one-quarter theprice of commercial conical burr gr<strong>in</strong>ders, and they <strong>in</strong>clude some packaged specifically for home use.<strong>The</strong>se run from about $250 <strong>to</strong> $500 and are recommended for anybody serious about espresso.

Mazzer flat burrs - note sharp deep ridgesFake flat burrs - knobs crushbeans<strong>The</strong>re are several manufacturers of home conical gr<strong>in</strong>ders. <strong>The</strong>se models work very well for brewedcoffee, and some models have enough gr<strong>in</strong>d sett<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>to</strong> work fairly well for espresso. However, the tastewon't be as good as a commercial gr<strong>in</strong>der's. <strong>The</strong>y have lower power mo<strong>to</strong>rs, plastic gears and lighterduty burr mounts; so the burrs wobble and vary <strong>in</strong> speed slightly dur<strong>in</strong>g the gr<strong>in</strong>d. <strong>Espresso</strong> particle sizeis measured <strong>in</strong> the 1/1000ths of <strong>in</strong>ches, so even a little wobble and speed change degrades gr<strong>in</strong>dquality. Nonetheless, such gr<strong>in</strong>ders are a decent economy choice and cost around $150.Solis conical burrs mounted on softplasticInnova conical burrs mounted onhard res<strong>in</strong>F<strong>in</strong>ally there are contraptions falsely called burr gr<strong>in</strong>ders that cost around $50. <strong>The</strong>se are not actuallyburr gr<strong>in</strong>ders, but use knobs <strong>to</strong> crush the beans. S<strong>in</strong>ce this produces a large quantity of f<strong>in</strong>es, they willproduce an acrid shot with even the most mild mannered all-Brasil blends. <strong>The</strong>y are <strong>to</strong> be strictlyavoided for any coffee use. Whirl<strong>in</strong>g blade gr<strong>in</strong>ders (that look like t<strong>in</strong>y blenders or food processors) arealso <strong>to</strong> be avoided, s<strong>in</strong>ce they <strong>to</strong>o produce excessive dust.

<strong>The</strong>re are non-coffee fac<strong>to</strong>rs <strong>to</strong> gr<strong>in</strong>der design that affect their cost. In general, gr<strong>in</strong>ders which do agood job but are less expensive tend <strong>to</strong> be slower, noisier, and messier. It is up <strong>to</strong> each person <strong>to</strong> weightheir priorities <strong>in</strong> economy versus lack of annoyances.It seems fairly clear <strong>to</strong> me that any fundamental <strong>in</strong>novation <strong>in</strong> espresso will require improvements <strong>in</strong>gr<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g coffee. However, the problems are great, so this is an area where technology moves slowly. Inthe mean time, the exist<strong>in</strong>g technological deficiencies <strong>in</strong> gr<strong>in</strong>der design means that one has <strong>to</strong> buy thebest gr<strong>in</strong>der possible <strong>to</strong> get decent performance.Introduction <strong>to</strong><strong>Espresso</strong> Mach<strong>in</strong>esIn pr<strong>in</strong>ciple, an espresso mach<strong>in</strong>e is a simple device; it is designed <strong>to</strong> heat water <strong>to</strong> between 90°C and96°C, and then push it through a puck of ground coffee at a pressure of 8 <strong>to</strong> 10 bar. <strong>The</strong> way aparticular mach<strong>in</strong>e handles heat<strong>in</strong>g the water and creat<strong>in</strong>g the requisite pressure def<strong>in</strong>es its type.Pressure MethodsSpr<strong>in</strong>g Levers: This is the oldest system, <strong>in</strong>troduced <strong>in</strong> the 1940s. A cyl<strong>in</strong>der and pis<strong>to</strong>n system is used<strong>to</strong> pressurize the water. In many home mach<strong>in</strong>es of this type, the pressure is applied directly by theopera<strong>to</strong>r. <strong>The</strong> drawback of this is that it is very difficult <strong>to</strong> smoothly and exactly apply the required 40 <strong>to</strong>50 pounds of force on the lever. All commercial lever mach<strong>in</strong>es and more sophisticated home mach<strong>in</strong>esuse an uncoil<strong>in</strong>g spr<strong>in</strong>g <strong>to</strong> power the pis<strong>to</strong>n. <strong>The</strong> opera<strong>to</strong>r compresses the spr<strong>in</strong>g, which does not requirethe force <strong>to</strong> be applied precisely. <strong>The</strong> reason a s<strong>in</strong>gle espresso uses about an ounce of liquid is that thiswas the practical maximum amount of water that could be manually pressurized by this method.In general, spr<strong>in</strong>g lever mach<strong>in</strong>es cannot be adjusted <strong>to</strong> deliver a precise pressure. <strong>The</strong>y start at around9 bar and, as the spr<strong>in</strong>g uncoils, smoothly dim<strong>in</strong>ish <strong>to</strong> around 7 bar by the end of the shot. This does notseem <strong>to</strong> adversely affect shot quality, and can <strong>in</strong> some case reduce bitterness.This system applies pressure very smoothly, without the vibrations <strong>in</strong>troduced by the rotary orreciprocat<strong>in</strong>g action of mo<strong>to</strong>r pumps. This difference may affect shot quality <strong>in</strong> two ways. First, it slightlyreduces the amount of crema compared <strong>to</strong> mo<strong>to</strong>rized shots, although one very occasionally getswonderfully creamy shots. Second, the taste of the shot is purer and more transparent, with lessbitterness and acridity than otherwise identical shots from mo<strong>to</strong>r pump mach<strong>in</strong>es. How much of thiseffect is due <strong>to</strong> the other properties of lever mach<strong>in</strong>es, and how much is due <strong>to</strong> the lack of vibrations isunknown. But the actual difference <strong>in</strong> taste is quite apparent.Rotary Pumps: <strong>The</strong> great majority of commercial espresso mach<strong>in</strong>es use rotary pumps, which cangenerate enough flow at 9 bar <strong>to</strong> serve multiple groups simultaneously. <strong>The</strong>y are easily and preciselyadjustable for pressure, and the pressure does not vary with the flow rates found <strong>in</strong> these mach<strong>in</strong>es.While they are not vibration free, they are smoother and quieter than the smaller vibra<strong>to</strong>ry pumps foundon home mach<strong>in</strong>es. So, although they are a vast overkill for home use, some espresso enthusiasts getrotary pump espresso mach<strong>in</strong>es for their better adjustability and reputedly cleaner taste.

Vibra<strong>to</strong>ry Pumps: <strong>The</strong> home espresso market has exploded because of the vibra<strong>to</strong>ry pump, a cheapand small device that can pump just enough water at 9 bar <strong>to</strong> make a double espresso. S<strong>in</strong>ce thesework on a reciprocat<strong>in</strong>g pr<strong>in</strong>ciple, they <strong>in</strong>troduce far more vibration than rotary pumps. Much of this canbe damped out by good overpressure valves and flexible pip<strong>in</strong>g, and better home mach<strong>in</strong>es have these.But still, they may produce a slightly less transparent taste than the other k<strong>in</strong>ds. On the upside, thevibrations may create slightly more crema.I am qualify<strong>in</strong>g statements about the taste differences between vibra<strong>to</strong>ry and rotary pump espresso.When vibe pumps are properly adjusted, the reputed differences are contested, and <strong>in</strong> any case subtle.Also they may be <strong>in</strong>fluenced not just by differences <strong>in</strong> vibration, but also the different speeds at whicheach type reaches full pressure at the start of the shot.Unlike rotary pumps, vibra<strong>to</strong>ry pumps produce a pressure that is strongly <strong>in</strong>verse <strong>to</strong> the rate of flow. Ifthere are no controls, one must make a 2 ounce <strong>in</strong> 20 <strong>to</strong> 25 seconds espresso <strong>to</strong> get the pressure <strong>in</strong>sidethe 8 <strong>to</strong> 10 bar range. Smaller, slower pour<strong>in</strong>g shots will have far higher pressures; larger, fasterpour<strong>in</strong>g shots will have far lower pressures. Better home mach<strong>in</strong>es have overpressure valves <strong>to</strong> limit themaximum pressure <strong>to</strong> about 10 bar, so that s<strong>in</strong>gle and ristret<strong>to</strong> (reduced) espressos can be madewithout exceed<strong>in</strong>g the normal extraction pressure range. Long shots, like Swiss café crema, will brew at4 <strong>to</strong> 6 bar, no matter how well the vibe pump is controlled.Heat<strong>in</strong>g MethodsBoiler/Heat Shedd<strong>in</strong>g Group: This is the oldest system. Wateris taken directly from the steam boiler at a temperature ofroughly 120°C (250°F). <strong>The</strong> water's temperature drops <strong>to</strong> brewrange <strong>in</strong> the group prior <strong>to</strong> its reach<strong>in</strong>g the coffee. Most spr<strong>in</strong>glever mach<strong>in</strong>es work <strong>in</strong> this way. Obviously, this is not a veryprecise way <strong>to</strong> regulate temperature. If the group is <strong>to</strong>o cool, thef<strong>in</strong>al brew temperature will be <strong>to</strong>o low; if it overheats, the f<strong>in</strong>albrew temperature will be <strong>to</strong>o high. On commercial levermach<strong>in</strong>es, shots have <strong>to</strong> be made at just the right pace <strong>to</strong> keepthe group at the correct temperature; on many home levermach<strong>in</strong>es, the mach<strong>in</strong>e has <strong>to</strong> be turned off after four or fiveshots and left <strong>to</strong> cool.Heat Exchanger: Most commercial and larger home mach<strong>in</strong>es use this system. <strong>The</strong> heat exchanger isbasically a pipe <strong>in</strong>side the boiler. As the water is pumped <strong>to</strong> the group, it goes through the pipe andheats up <strong>to</strong> brew temperature range. <strong>The</strong> average temperature can be adjusted by lower<strong>in</strong>g or rais<strong>in</strong>gthe steam boiler's temperature and pressure. S<strong>in</strong>ce the water arriv<strong>in</strong>g at the group is designed <strong>to</strong> be atthe correct temperature, the group itself also has <strong>to</strong> be heated <strong>to</strong> the correct temperature so as not <strong>to</strong>change that of the brew water. This is done either by circulat<strong>in</strong>g hot water through the group or bybolt<strong>in</strong>g the group directly <strong>to</strong> the boiler. Aga<strong>in</strong>, this is not a very precise system, and it is difficult <strong>to</strong>adjust the temperature <strong>to</strong> a precise level. However, good eng<strong>in</strong>eer<strong>in</strong>g can make heat exchanger systemsvery stable, so that they hold the same temperature with<strong>in</strong> 1°C <strong>to</strong> 2°C. This is ma<strong>in</strong>ly done by us<strong>in</strong>gvery massive groups and heat exchangers. Once these are at the correct temperature, changes <strong>in</strong> therelatively small amounts of water go<strong>in</strong>g through them do not affect their thermal stability. However,they still depend on shots be<strong>in</strong>g made a steady pace. After a long idle time, the water <strong>in</strong> the heat

exchanger will overheat, and the group may also drift <strong>to</strong> the wrong temperature. One has <strong>to</strong> go througha regime of flush<strong>in</strong>g water through the group <strong>to</strong> get the system <strong>to</strong> the right start<strong>in</strong>g temperature formak<strong>in</strong>g shots. <strong>The</strong> exact details of this regime vary from mach<strong>in</strong>e <strong>to</strong> mach<strong>in</strong>e, however the article How IS<strong>to</strong>pped Worry<strong>in</strong>g and Learned <strong>to</strong> Love HXs offers general advice that can be adapted <strong>to</strong> most heatexchangers.Heat exchanger systems have an important advantage compared <strong>to</strong> smaller s<strong>in</strong>gle boiler homemach<strong>in</strong>es. <strong>The</strong>y can steam milk and make shots at the same time, whereas s<strong>in</strong>gle boiler mach<strong>in</strong>escannot.S<strong>in</strong>gle Boiler: Smaller home mach<strong>in</strong>es have a s<strong>in</strong>gle boiler without a heat exchanger. When mak<strong>in</strong>gespresso, one thermostat is used <strong>to</strong> heat the water <strong>to</strong> 90°C <strong>to</strong> 96°C; when steam<strong>in</strong>g, anotherthermostat is used <strong>to</strong> heat the water <strong>to</strong> 125°C. <strong>The</strong>re can be up <strong>to</strong> a one-m<strong>in</strong>ute wait for the boiler <strong>to</strong>switch from one temperature <strong>to</strong> the other. <strong>The</strong> major quality fac<strong>to</strong>r <strong>in</strong> these mach<strong>in</strong>es is the size of theboiler. <strong>The</strong> poorest mach<strong>in</strong>es have a thermoblock that heats less than an ounce of water on the fly. <strong>The</strong>best mach<strong>in</strong>es have boilers up <strong>to</strong> 25 fluid ounces. Although bigger is always better <strong>in</strong> terms of thermalstability, above about 12 <strong>to</strong> 16 ounces of boiler size, the added stability becomes somewhat academiccompared <strong>to</strong> other fac<strong>to</strong>rs.In most home mach<strong>in</strong>es, the thermostat is a simple bi-metallic disc mounted <strong>to</strong> the outside surface ofthe boiler. <strong>The</strong>se have a deadband (the range between turn<strong>in</strong>g on and off) of around 10°C. In order <strong>to</strong>get consistent temperatures shot-<strong>to</strong>-shot, you beg<strong>in</strong> brew<strong>in</strong>g espresso at the same po<strong>in</strong>t <strong>in</strong> the range,typically the moment it reaches maximum temperature. Vary<strong>in</strong>g the shot temperature is very difficult,and requires tim<strong>in</strong>g out the thermostat cycle precisely—a technique called temperature surf<strong>in</strong>g.Better home mach<strong>in</strong>es use vapor pressure or electronic thermostats which measure the water directlyand have narrow deadbands. Although these are adjustable <strong>in</strong> theory, <strong>in</strong> practice, they are not veryaccessible.Many home espresso enthusiasts take one of the better s<strong>in</strong>gle boiler home mach<strong>in</strong>es and use <strong>in</strong>dustrialtemperature controllers (called PID controllers) <strong>to</strong> precisely regulate the temperature. When this is done,these mach<strong>in</strong>es deliver very repeatable and adjustable shot temperatures.Double Boiler: S<strong>in</strong>gle boiler mach<strong>in</strong>es cannot steam and pull shots at the same time. However, with theright controls, they deliver very precise temperature control. Commercial manufacturers <strong>to</strong>ok note ofthis and are produc<strong>in</strong>g double boiler mach<strong>in</strong>es. <strong>The</strong>se have one boiler used for brew<strong>in</strong>g and another forsteam<strong>in</strong>g, with each boiler set <strong>to</strong> the correct temperature for its function. In theory, such mach<strong>in</strong>es candeliver completely stable temperatures. In practice, groups are not regulated and shot temperatures canvary as widely as on the better heat exchanger models. Nevertheless, s<strong>in</strong>ce these espresso mach<strong>in</strong>esalmost always have accessible electronic controls, they are much easier <strong>to</strong> set <strong>to</strong> the desiredtemperature than any other k<strong>in</strong>d of mach<strong>in</strong>e. Also, this is an active area of <strong>in</strong>novation, and double boilerespresso mach<strong>in</strong>es are becom<strong>in</strong>g more precise with each new model iteration. <strong>The</strong> most advancedcurrent models claim <strong>to</strong> keep temperatures with<strong>in</strong> 0.5°C of the sett<strong>in</strong>g under all operat<strong>in</strong>g conditions.<strong>The</strong>re are several models of double boiler mach<strong>in</strong>e now available for the high end home market.How Important Is Precision?

It depends. Most home espresso enthusiasts buy small commercial mach<strong>in</strong>es, or do their own upgradeson better home models, not because they dr<strong>in</strong>k more coffee, but because they are look<strong>in</strong>g forconsistency. Consistency <strong>in</strong> pressure and temperature has three aspects:Repeatability from shot <strong>to</strong> shot so that the temperatures and pressures are the same for every espresso. Thisis essential, s<strong>in</strong>ce if the mach<strong>in</strong>e's pressure and temperature change from shot <strong>to</strong> shot, you can never get aconsistent taste <strong>in</strong> your espresso. It's work <strong>to</strong> get repeatable shots on even good s<strong>to</strong>ck home mach<strong>in</strong>es.Commercial models and DIY upgrades make this a lot easier.Stability with<strong>in</strong> the shot so that the temperature and pressure hold the same value throughout. A mach<strong>in</strong>e willspoil the espresso if the temperature or pressure vary widely. But if they vary a small amount and <strong>in</strong> a consistentmanner, there is no evidence that espresso quality is compromised. For example, spr<strong>in</strong>g lever mach<strong>in</strong>es deliverthe same pressure curve, one that drops <strong>to</strong>wards the end, whereas mo<strong>to</strong>r pumps deliver even pressurethroughout. HX mach<strong>in</strong>es usually have "humped" temperature profiles vary<strong>in</strong>g a few degrees Fahrenheit with<strong>in</strong> ashot, whereas s<strong>in</strong>gle and double boiler mach<strong>in</strong>es have straight l<strong>in</strong>e temperatures, also vary<strong>in</strong>g a few degrees atmost. Repeated tests have shown no clear advantage for any of these behaviors. It should be noted that verysmall pump mach<strong>in</strong>es that cost <strong>in</strong> the $100 <strong>to</strong> $200 range usually are unstable, and temperatures and pressureswill vary widely and unacceptably with<strong>in</strong> a shot.Adjustability so that one can change the brew temperature or extraction pressure. This is essential if you want <strong>to</strong>use a particular style of blend or coffee on the mach<strong>in</strong>e, s<strong>in</strong>ce differ<strong>in</strong>g blends and roasts favor different pressuresand temperatures. If the mach<strong>in</strong>e is not easily set, one has <strong>to</strong> f<strong>in</strong>d a blend and roast style that is suitable for it,and stick <strong>to</strong> it for the best espresso. Lever mach<strong>in</strong>es are not easily reset. HX mach<strong>in</strong>es and mechanically controlledmo<strong>to</strong>r pumps require open<strong>in</strong>g the mach<strong>in</strong>e up for an adjustment, while electronically controlled dual boilermach<strong>in</strong>es, or PIDed home mach<strong>in</strong>es can have their temperature and (sometimes) their extraction pressureadjusted on the fly.Mach<strong>in</strong>e Fac<strong>to</strong>rs Not Related <strong>to</strong> <strong>Coffee</strong> QualityYou will pay more for beautifully designed cases, for higher quality, long life components, and for goodworkmanship and ma<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong>ability. Inexpensive home mach<strong>in</strong>es have almost become disposable, andsuch features are likely a waste of money. More expensive mach<strong>in</strong>es are like major appliances—theirlifetime is measured <strong>in</strong> decades, and they are designed <strong>to</strong> be repaired and serviced. S<strong>in</strong>ce it is moreconvenient <strong>to</strong> do rout<strong>in</strong>e ma<strong>in</strong>tenance and service yourself, a well designed mach<strong>in</strong>e with high qualitycomponents greatly <strong>in</strong>creases the joy of ownership. S<strong>in</strong>ce such mach<strong>in</strong>es are long term fixtures <strong>in</strong> thehome, the quality and type of case design should be chosen with their location <strong>in</strong> m<strong>in</strong>d. It is rather odd<strong>to</strong> walk <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> a beautiful marble tiled kitchen and see its granite counters populated by cheap plasticgadgets; on the other hand, a mach<strong>in</strong>e dest<strong>in</strong>ed for placement beh<strong>in</strong>d a counter or <strong>in</strong> a work<strong>in</strong>g kitchencan be simple and utilitarian <strong>in</strong> design.Introduction <strong>to</strong>Barista TechniquesBarista technique breaks down <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> three time scales and skill levels:<strong>The</strong> first is the m<strong>in</strong>ute or so spent gr<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g and mak<strong>in</strong>g the shot. <strong>The</strong>key here is acquir<strong>in</strong>g the skills <strong>to</strong> make shots consistently. One shouldbe able <strong>to</strong> turn out four or five <strong>in</strong> a row with virtually the same tim<strong>in</strong>g,volume, color, crema and taste. This skill is a physical th<strong>in</strong>g, that is,it's a matter of tra<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g and practice rather than learn<strong>in</strong>g.<strong>The</strong> second is the time spent carefully tast<strong>in</strong>g an espresso or series ofespressos, identify<strong>in</strong>g the flavor balance and defects, and mak<strong>in</strong>g

adjustments <strong>to</strong> ones pull or mach<strong>in</strong>es <strong>to</strong> correct them. <strong>The</strong> "dial<strong>in</strong>g-<strong>in</strong>" process for a new blend usuallyrequires a series of shots <strong>to</strong> get a satisfac<strong>to</strong>ry result, and can proceed over several days <strong>to</strong> f<strong>in</strong>e tune it.To do this well, one needs <strong>to</strong> have experience <strong>in</strong> tast<strong>in</strong>g and analyz<strong>in</strong>g good espresso. One also needs <strong>to</strong>know how changes <strong>in</strong> extraction variables and mach<strong>in</strong>e sett<strong>in</strong>gs affect the espresso's taste.<strong>The</strong> third is acquir<strong>in</strong>g experience and <strong>in</strong>formed preferences with a wide range of coffees, blends,espresso equipment, and alternative techniques. If you or someone you're serv<strong>in</strong>g wants an espressowith a specific pallette of flavors; you will know how <strong>to</strong> provide it. <strong>Home</strong> roast<strong>in</strong>g and blend<strong>in</strong>g helps <strong>in</strong>this. So does visit<strong>in</strong>g good cafés and roasteries, and talk<strong>in</strong>g with the knowledgeable people there.Most people <strong>in</strong> North American dr<strong>in</strong>k their espresso <strong>in</strong> a latte or cappucc<strong>in</strong>o. Until about ten years ago,there wasn't much <strong>to</strong> prepar<strong>in</strong>g these. But <strong>in</strong> recent years, the techniques of microfoam<strong>in</strong>g and pour<strong>in</strong>glatte art have become widespread, vastly improv<strong>in</strong>g the quality of these beverages. Latte art should be apart of every home barista's reper<strong>to</strong>ire; an <strong>in</strong>troduction <strong>to</strong> its technique is given later <strong>in</strong> the guide.Pull<strong>in</strong>g Shots by the Numbers<strong>The</strong> actions for pull<strong>in</strong>g a shot of espresso are:1. Choos<strong>in</strong>g s<strong>in</strong>gles or doubles.2. Correctly sett<strong>in</strong>g the gr<strong>in</strong>der.3. Ready<strong>in</strong>g an idle mach<strong>in</strong>e for shot mak<strong>in</strong>g.4. Gr<strong>in</strong>d, dose, level, and tamp.5. Work<strong>in</strong>g the shot.6. Post-shot tasks.S<strong>in</strong>gles or Doubles?<strong>Espresso</strong> comes <strong>in</strong> two sizes: s<strong>in</strong>gle and double. A s<strong>in</strong>gle is a 0.6 <strong>to</strong> 1 ounce espresso made from 6 <strong>to</strong> 10grams of coffee; a double is a 1.2 <strong>to</strong> 2 ounce espresso made from 12 <strong>to</strong> 20 grams of coffee. S<strong>in</strong>gles anddoubles take the same amount of time <strong>to</strong> pull, roughly 25 <strong>to</strong> 33 seconds, and the coffee flavors andaroma should be the same.However, I recommend that you start by mak<strong>in</strong>g doubles. While the flavor of s<strong>in</strong>gles and doubles is thesame, the crema on s<strong>in</strong>gles will always be less than on doubles. <strong>The</strong> mechanism underly<strong>in</strong>g this isexpla<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong> the diagnostics section. Good crema improves mouthfeel and ameliorates harsh flavors, sodoubles are more forgiv<strong>in</strong>g than s<strong>in</strong>gles. Good s<strong>in</strong>gles require perfect technique and very long practice;produc<strong>in</strong>g good doubles is easier.Gr<strong>in</strong>der adjustmentWhen first us<strong>in</strong>g a new gr<strong>in</strong>der or when chang<strong>in</strong>g coffee blend, the gr<strong>in</strong>der needs a large adjustment <strong>to</strong>be set correctly. On a new gr<strong>in</strong>der, gr<strong>in</strong>d briefly and p<strong>in</strong>ch the gr<strong>in</strong>d between your f<strong>in</strong>gers; if it's <strong>in</strong> thecorrect range, it should feel very slightly granular, just short of a powder. Many gr<strong>in</strong>ders display a rangeor sett<strong>in</strong>g for espresso; if yours does, start there. When chang<strong>in</strong>g blend, just start with the currentsett<strong>in</strong>g.

At this po<strong>in</strong>t, gr<strong>in</strong>d, dose, tamp and pull double shots as you usually do (see below if this is your firsttime), then correct the gr<strong>in</strong>d sett<strong>in</strong>g—f<strong>in</strong>er gr<strong>in</strong>d for less volume or longer pour times, and coarser gr<strong>in</strong>dfor shorter pour times or larger volumes. Here's what you are look<strong>in</strong>g for <strong>in</strong>itially:Time the shot, and run it <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> a cup from which you can tell the volume. S<strong>to</strong>p the shot when the flowlightens <strong>to</strong> "blonde," a tan color show<strong>in</strong>g some transparency. This flow color <strong>in</strong>dicates that the properamount of coffee has extracted, about 20% of the puck. Try <strong>to</strong> get <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> the middle of the acceptablerange: 1.5 <strong>to</strong> 1.75 ounces <strong>in</strong> 25 <strong>to</strong> 30 seconds. If the shot takes longer, or delivers less volume, gr<strong>in</strong>dcoarser; if it delivers more volume or happens <strong>in</strong> less time, gr<strong>in</strong>d f<strong>in</strong>er. More precise adjustment requirestast<strong>in</strong>g shots and diagnos<strong>in</strong>g them. This is expla<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong> the next section.If on a stepped gr<strong>in</strong>der, no gr<strong>in</strong>d sett<strong>in</strong>g gets you with<strong>in</strong> this range, start gr<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g on the sett<strong>in</strong>g thatwas closest but <strong>to</strong>o f<strong>in</strong>e, and halfway through, switch <strong>to</strong> the sett<strong>in</strong>g that was closest but <strong>to</strong>o coarse.<strong>The</strong>n consider buy<strong>in</strong>g a better gr<strong>in</strong>der.Ready<strong>in</strong>g an Idle Mach<strong>in</strong>eAlmost all runn<strong>in</strong>g but idle mach<strong>in</strong>es will have some component at the wrong temperature, so that ashot pulled from them without further ado will taste wrong. A mach<strong>in</strong>e that is turned off and cold willneed <strong>to</strong> be turned on and left <strong>to</strong> sit for fifteen m<strong>in</strong>utes <strong>to</strong> an hour <strong>to</strong> get it up <strong>to</strong> temperature, depend<strong>in</strong>gon the mach<strong>in</strong>e's size. At that po<strong>in</strong>t, it will have the same characteristics as an idle mach<strong>in</strong>e, and willalso need <strong>to</strong> be prepared for its first shot.A boiler/heat shedd<strong>in</strong>g group mach<strong>in</strong>e like most spr<strong>in</strong>g levers may need a "blank shot" <strong>to</strong> warm itslightly. Runn<strong>in</strong>g one dose of hot water through the group will do.Heat exchangers are designed <strong>to</strong> heat the water <strong>to</strong> the correct espresso temperature as it flows throughthem. Typically they are adjusted <strong>to</strong> do this at a normal shot mak<strong>in</strong>g pace, that is, one espresso everym<strong>in</strong>ute <strong>to</strong> two. If the water sits <strong>in</strong> them longer, it overheats and has <strong>to</strong> be flushed out.If the group has a tendency <strong>to</strong> get cold, a blank shot of the right amount (typically 1 <strong>to</strong> 2 ounces) willcool the heat exchanger and heat the group <strong>to</strong> the correct shot mak<strong>in</strong>g level. If the group has atendency <strong>to</strong> run hot, a larger amount needs <strong>to</strong> be flushed so that the fast flow<strong>in</strong>g water cools both theheat exchanger and the group. In this case the required amount is typically 4 <strong>to</strong> 8 ounces. <strong>The</strong> correctprocedure varies by mach<strong>in</strong>e model.In brew boilers controlled by mechanical thermostats, the water can be well below the thermostat'sturn-off temperature. On these (typically home mach<strong>in</strong>es), water should be run until the heater turnson. On some mach<strong>in</strong>es, you should time the heat<strong>in</strong>g cycle and pull the shot after the heat<strong>in</strong>g elementhas run the same amount of time <strong>in</strong> each case. On others, one should wait for the heat <strong>to</strong> turn off, andpull the shot immediately.In brew boilers controlled by electronic thermostats, the boiler water will be at the correct temperature.In some cases, however, the group will be at the wrong temperature, usually cold. In this <strong>in</strong>stance,

simple flush<strong>in</strong>g doesn't work well, s<strong>in</strong>ce one can overdraw the brew boiler and cool it off. One procedure,devised by David Schomer of Café Vivace, is <strong>to</strong> leave the spent puck from the previous shot <strong>in</strong> thegroup. Flush<strong>in</strong>g through it will slow the flow sufficiently <strong>to</strong> warm the group without overdraw<strong>in</strong>g on thebrew boiler.It pays <strong>to</strong> speak <strong>to</strong> other owners of your model of espresso mach<strong>in</strong>e <strong>to</strong> get the exact procedures thatmach<strong>in</strong>e requires (or if your mach<strong>in</strong>e was reviewed on <strong>Home</strong>-Barista.com, read the Pull<strong>in</strong>g Shots by theNumbers section of its buyer's guide). Alternatively, you can mount a thermocouple <strong>in</strong> a brew basket oron the showerscreen, measure the water temperature, and devise your own procedures. I wouldrecommend purchas<strong>in</strong>g a thermocouple and reader for this purpose. <strong>The</strong>y are quite <strong>in</strong>expensive— asmall fraction of the mach<strong>in</strong>es cost —and will certa<strong>in</strong>ly help <strong>to</strong> get the most out of it.Barista Technique:Dose, Distribute, Tamp. Repeat.<strong>The</strong>se are the actions required <strong>to</strong> fill the portafilter with coffee and getit ready for pull<strong>in</strong>g the shot.Sett<strong>in</strong>g the gr<strong>in</strong>der has been discussed previously, now let's look moreclosely at the actual gr<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g. Many gr<strong>in</strong>ders have s<strong>to</strong>rage for theground coffee and provisions for dos<strong>in</strong>g it. This defeats the purpose ofespresso, which by def<strong>in</strong>ition is about do<strong>in</strong>g everyth<strong>in</strong>g fresh. So firstget rid of any old gr<strong>in</strong>ds, then gr<strong>in</strong>d just enough for the shot. Onespresso gr<strong>in</strong>ders with dos<strong>in</strong>g chambers, this requires flick<strong>in</strong>g thedos<strong>in</strong>g lever repeatedly until the chamber is quite empty. It also meansclear<strong>in</strong>g out the exit chute from the gr<strong>in</strong>d chamber, which will otherwiseclog with stale grounds, us<strong>in</strong>g a small brush, chopstick, or similar small non-metal implement (neveryour f<strong>in</strong>gers!).<strong>The</strong> nom<strong>in</strong>al doses for espresso are 6 <strong>to</strong> 7 grams for a s<strong>in</strong>gle and 12 <strong>to</strong> 14 grams for a double. Recently,many cafés have raised dose sizes <strong>to</strong> 8 <strong>to</strong> 10 grams for a s<strong>in</strong>gle and 16 <strong>to</strong> 20 grams for a double.Whatever the dose, consistency is the key. Weigh<strong>in</strong>g the gr<strong>in</strong>ds is accurate but time consum<strong>in</strong>g, sous<strong>in</strong>g the same volume each time is the most popular choice for dos<strong>in</strong>g. <strong>The</strong> most common method is <strong>to</strong>gr<strong>in</strong>d for a preset time (a pho<strong>to</strong> lab develop<strong>in</strong>g timer is a good add-on for this), fill<strong>in</strong>g the basket looselywith gr<strong>in</strong>ds, then level<strong>in</strong>g it off and discard<strong>in</strong>g the excess gr<strong>in</strong>ds. Some baristas prefer a slightlyoverloaded basket. In this case, the most repeatable method is <strong>to</strong> tap the basket and portafilter a fewtimes <strong>to</strong> slightly compact the gr<strong>in</strong>ds prior <strong>to</strong> level<strong>in</strong>g them off. This will add about 20% <strong>to</strong> 25% <strong>to</strong> thedose. F<strong>in</strong>ally, some home baristas prefer <strong>to</strong> dose by measur<strong>in</strong>g the volume of the amount of beans theyput <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> the gr<strong>in</strong>der. As a rule of thumb, a leveled coffee basket full of beans delivers the same amoun<strong>to</strong>f coffee as the overloaded basket technique. Which technique you use is less important than stick<strong>in</strong>gwith it and learn<strong>in</strong>g <strong>to</strong> be consistent. It's a good idea <strong>to</strong> weigh the coffee after dos<strong>in</strong>g for a few days untilyou become fairly consistent (with<strong>in</strong> 0.5 grams of the desired weight).

To create a sound puck, level<strong>in</strong>g the ground coffee is vital. Prior <strong>to</strong> tamp<strong>in</strong>g one wants the ground coffeedistributed as follows:Its depth even all around the basket.Its density even all around the basket.No gaps or breaks, especially around the perimeter of the basket.<strong>The</strong> most common method <strong>to</strong> get this is <strong>to</strong> comb<strong>in</strong>e level<strong>in</strong>g with sweep<strong>in</strong>g excess coffee from thebasket. Prior <strong>to</strong> sweep<strong>in</strong>g the grounds away, use your f<strong>in</strong>ger <strong>to</strong> move the grounds gently around thebasket <strong>to</strong> fill <strong>in</strong> all gaps. An alternative, for those with larger palms accus<strong>to</strong>med <strong>to</strong> heat, is <strong>to</strong> presslightly on the grounds with the thumb part of the palm, and rotate both it and the portafilter <strong>to</strong>distribute them evenly. This technique is known as the S<strong>to</strong>ckfleths Move (video). If you have a tamperslightly smaller than the basket, the Staub tamp, a rotat<strong>in</strong>g motion by it, or very lightly tamp<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> thefour compass directions, prior <strong>to</strong> heavy tamp<strong>in</strong>g will also work. F<strong>in</strong>ally, you can lightly level the groundsseveral times while fill<strong>in</strong>g the basket us<strong>in</strong>g the small tamper attached <strong>to</strong> the gr<strong>in</strong>der.Tamp<strong>in</strong>g means tak<strong>in</strong>g a cyl<strong>in</strong>drical press that fits snugly <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> the basket and compact<strong>in</strong>g the groundsprior <strong>to</strong> the shot. <strong>The</strong> object is <strong>to</strong> seal the puck so that the brew water moves through it evenly withoutf<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g weak spots. Channel<strong>in</strong>g occurs when the pressurized water gushes through the weak spot whilenot flow<strong>in</strong>g anywhere else, thereby spoil<strong>in</strong>g the shot.<strong>The</strong> classic tamp is a straight down press at 30lbs pressure, followed by a light twist <strong>to</strong> settle any straygr<strong>in</strong>ds. In Italy, it has become the cus<strong>to</strong>m of most cafés <strong>to</strong> gr<strong>in</strong>d slightly f<strong>in</strong>er and use a very light tamp(about 10 pounds) us<strong>in</strong>g the tamper mounted on the coffee gr<strong>in</strong>der. Stronger baristas may use heaviertamps, while some use a nutat<strong>in</strong>g motion (roll<strong>in</strong>g the tamper <strong>in</strong> a motion like a flipped co<strong>in</strong> settl<strong>in</strong>g) <strong>to</strong>accentuate the pressure <strong>to</strong>wards the edges of the basket. An alternative <strong>to</strong> the nutat<strong>in</strong>g motion is us<strong>in</strong>ga convexly curved tamper, which accomplishes the same th<strong>in</strong>g.If all these alternative ways of level<strong>in</strong>g and tamp<strong>in</strong>g leave you bewildered, take some comfort <strong>in</strong>know<strong>in</strong>g that most experts are just as confused, and that there's help. A recent <strong>in</strong>novation known asthe naked portafilter (shown above) allows you <strong>to</strong> see directly how well the extraction progresses. <strong>The</strong>naked portafilter is not the latest wr<strong>in</strong>kle <strong>in</strong> pornography, rather it is a portafilter <strong>in</strong> which the bot<strong>to</strong>mhas been sawed off. So, <strong>in</strong>stead of be<strong>in</strong>g directed <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> a spout, the coffee exit<strong>in</strong>g the sieve at the bot<strong>to</strong>mof the basket drops directly <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> the cup. If the level and tamp are correct, the espresso will quicklycollect at the center of the basket and descend as a s<strong>in</strong>gle stream <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> the cup. If it is <strong>in</strong>correct, littlesprouts will squirt off <strong>in</strong> all directions mak<strong>in</strong>g a mess. A few days with a naked portafilter will guaranteethat your level<strong>in</strong>g and tamp<strong>in</strong>g techniques, whatever they may be, are work<strong>in</strong>g correctly. As a bonus,the stream off a naked portafilter is rather pretty (especially if flash pho<strong>to</strong>graphed), the crema volume is<strong>in</strong>creased, and there are no stale coffee oils from the bot<strong>to</strong>m of a conventional portafilter gett<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong>your espresso.Barista Technique:Good Extraction, Good <strong>Espresso</strong>Even very experienced baristas often don't take advantage of the opportunities <strong>to</strong> improve the espressothat are available while mak<strong>in</strong>g the shot. <strong>The</strong>y lock the portafilter <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> group, turn on the pump or pullthe lever, and pray. If the shot is roughly right, they'll serve it and make small gr<strong>in</strong>der adjustments for

the next one—if it's way off, they'll dump it and make larger gr<strong>in</strong>der adjustments. This approachrequires that gr<strong>in</strong>d sett<strong>in</strong>gs and mach<strong>in</strong>e temperatures and pressures be very close <strong>to</strong> perfect. However,if you know a few th<strong>in</strong>gs about how espresso extracts, you can correct somewhat larger deviations fromthe correct levels of these variables on the fly. Moreover, however correct or <strong>in</strong>correct the variables, youcan assure that you're gett<strong>in</strong>g the best espresso possible under the circumstances.End<strong>in</strong>g the Extraction by Color<strong>The</strong> first aspect of work<strong>in</strong>g the shot is <strong>to</strong> make sure the extraction is correct by end<strong>in</strong>g the shot at thesame color every time. <strong>The</strong> exact color depends on blend and mach<strong>in</strong>e, but it is always a light tandescribed by experienced baristas as blonde. If the stream is still well filled with crema, it is not yetblonde. If the stream enter<strong>in</strong>g the cup discolors the crema <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> a light tan color, it's gotten lighter thanblonde. Typically the right po<strong>in</strong>t is around the time when the stream starts chang<strong>in</strong>g from foam <strong>to</strong> liquid.How and why does this work? Underextracted coffee is sour and th<strong>in</strong>; overextracted coffee is weak, withbitter and acrid notes. As the ground coffee extracts, the water flow<strong>in</strong>g through it colors less and less.So the color is a measure of the degree of extraction and s<strong>to</strong>pp<strong>in</strong>g at the same color means s<strong>to</strong>pp<strong>in</strong>g atthe same level of extraction. Perfect extraction occurs when 20% of the ground coffee's weight hasdissolved <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> the coffee. Know<strong>in</strong>g the color that corresponds <strong>to</strong> this so you can s<strong>to</strong>p the extractionmeans gett<strong>in</strong>g the best espresso for a given pull every time.<strong>The</strong> graphic below illustrates the 'extraction space' of espresso, show<strong>in</strong>g shot time and volume, thechanges <strong>in</strong> color, and the effect of gr<strong>in</strong>d f<strong>in</strong>eness. It will be used extensively <strong>in</strong> the diagnostic section,but will also help clarify the concepts discussed here.Let's suppose the gr<strong>in</strong>d is way off and you don't know about this.

Based on what you've read, you are look<strong>in</strong>g for a two ounce double espresso <strong>in</strong> 27 seconds. If the gr<strong>in</strong>dis <strong>to</strong>o coarse, you get the two ounces <strong>in</strong> about 15 seconds. If you s<strong>to</strong>p there, the cup will tasteunderextracted. If you go for 27 seconds, you'll get an overflow of overextracted bilge. But if you s<strong>to</strong>pthe shot at the right color, you'll have a 20 second, 3 ounce lungo (long shot)—not what you wanted,but quite dr<strong>in</strong>kable. Now suppose your gr<strong>in</strong>d is way <strong>to</strong>o f<strong>in</strong>e. If you don't know the rule, you'll have a ½ounce of <strong>in</strong>tensely sour stuff at 27 seconds, or 2 ounces of <strong>in</strong>tensely bitter stuff after a m<strong>in</strong>ute. If you doknow the rule, you'll have a 1 ounce ristret<strong>to</strong> (short shot) after 35 seconds—aga<strong>in</strong>, not what youwanted, but enjoyable nevertheless. After you tried the shot, you can correct the gr<strong>in</strong>d, or even staywith the "mistake" if you decide you liked it more. In any case, you'll have a range of shot possibilitiesyou can explore.As can be seen on the extraction chart, it takes a longer time for the flow <strong>to</strong> go blond on a restrictedvolume shot than on a long volume shot. This relation between shot blond<strong>in</strong>g and the volume and lengthof extraction is known among espresso enthusiasts as Al's Rule, named after Al Critzer of Cimballi.Tak<strong>in</strong>g Advantage of the 'Rule of Thirds'Sometimes it is not the gr<strong>in</strong>d, but the temperature, pressure, or even the blend itself that are off.Ideally, you would fix this by correct<strong>in</strong>g the problem directly (see next section), but <strong>in</strong> many cases ittakes more time that you have before rush<strong>in</strong>g off <strong>to</strong> work, runn<strong>in</strong>g errands, and so on. Another aspect ofthe extraction allows for a quicker fix. <strong>The</strong> early part of the extraction conta<strong>in</strong>s a predom<strong>in</strong>ance of theacids and the portion derived from f<strong>in</strong>es. <strong>The</strong> central part of the extraction conta<strong>in</strong>s a predom<strong>in</strong>ance ofthe sugars and caramels. <strong>The</strong> f<strong>in</strong>al part of the extraction tends <strong>to</strong>wards bitterness, but will also be fairlyweak, sometimes almost tasteless. Among enthusiasts, this is known as the rule of thirds.So, if the espresso is <strong>to</strong>o sour, or worse, has the citrus peel acridity from high grown f<strong>in</strong>es (a brightl<strong>in</strong>ger<strong>in</strong>g bitterness ma<strong>in</strong>ly on the roof of the mouth), let the first second or two of the flow go <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> thedrip tray. This is an old Italian barista trick for deal<strong>in</strong>g with rioy Brasils, but it can also be used ongourmet blends conta<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g a lot of acidy high grown coffees.On the other hand, if the espresso tastes flat or bitter-dull, s<strong>to</strong>p the extraction at a darker color <strong>to</strong>reduce the proportion of weak bitterish coffee, and <strong>in</strong>crease the proportion of the <strong>in</strong>tense flavors fromearly <strong>in</strong> the shot.If the espresso is not sweet enough, you can do both by captur<strong>in</strong>g the flow after a few seconds andend<strong>in</strong>g while the flow is still darker. This "center-cut" shot will favor the sugars and caramels <strong>in</strong> theextraction.Barista Technique:Better Extraction, Better <strong>Espresso</strong><strong>The</strong> basic shot mak<strong>in</strong>g techniques get you decent espresso, but not necessarily the best espresso. Forthat, you want <strong>to</strong> f<strong>in</strong>d which comb<strong>in</strong>ation of pressure, temperature, gr<strong>in</strong>d, and f<strong>in</strong>ish<strong>in</strong>g color works bestwith the blend. Also, th<strong>in</strong>gs do go wrong—temperatures and pressures can drift, burrs get dull, mach<strong>in</strong>escan build up coffee oils faster than usual and require an unscheduled clean<strong>in</strong>g. Each of these mars the

Heat exchanger mach<strong>in</strong>es are set by adjust<strong>in</strong>g thepressurestat, do<strong>in</strong>g a sequence of eight shots or so at yourTemperature measur<strong>in</strong>g portafilternormal rhythm, and see<strong>in</strong>g where the shot temperature settles. After that, you should also adjust theflush <strong>to</strong> get an idl<strong>in</strong>g mach<strong>in</strong>e <strong>to</strong> that temperature. For one-off experiments or s<strong>in</strong>gle-shot home use,simply adjust the flush amount (see How I S<strong>to</strong>pped Worry<strong>in</strong>g and Learned <strong>to</strong> Love HXs for more details).Mach<strong>in</strong>es with electronically controlled brew boilers can be set from the front panel without fuss. Vaporbulb thermostats can be adjusted <strong>in</strong>side the mach<strong>in</strong>e. Both types should be checked with athermocouple thermometer <strong>to</strong> confirm the actual brew temperatures.Manipulat<strong>in</strong>g the Extraction VariablesYou control the extraction by sett<strong>in</strong>g the gr<strong>in</strong>der f<strong>in</strong>er or coarser and end<strong>in</strong>g the shot at a certa<strong>in</strong> flowcolor, shot volume, or elapsed time. I recommend us<strong>in</strong>g flow color as the way of determ<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g the end ofthe shot, as discussed <strong>in</strong> the previous section. Each comb<strong>in</strong>ation of gr<strong>in</strong>der sett<strong>in</strong>g and end<strong>in</strong>g colorgives a unique comb<strong>in</strong>ation of shot time and shot volume (when us<strong>in</strong>g the same basket, coffee amount,blend and mach<strong>in</strong>e). In fact, fix<strong>in</strong>g any two of the variables (gr<strong>in</strong>der sett<strong>in</strong>g, shot color, time, andvolume) fully specifies the other two.Barista Technique:Diagnosis of Extraction Problems<strong>Espresso</strong> is mostly def<strong>in</strong>ed <strong>in</strong> terms of shot time and volume, s<strong>in</strong>ce these are easiest <strong>to</strong> measure. Byconvention, the volume specifications for espresso are <strong>to</strong>tal volume, comb<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g crema and liquid.<strong>The</strong> dwell time, the time it takes from turn<strong>in</strong>g on the pump <strong>to</strong> see<strong>in</strong>g the first drops of espressoemerge from the basket varies from mach<strong>in</strong>e <strong>to</strong> mach<strong>in</strong>e. So by convention, espresso extraction timesare specified from the moment the pump is turned on.I will specify the diagnostics <strong>in</strong> terms of shot end<strong>in</strong>g color and volume, s<strong>in</strong>ce these have the most<strong>in</strong>tuitive correspondence <strong>to</strong> espresso taste. This means you should end the shot at the specified color,and then set the gr<strong>in</strong>der <strong>to</strong> get the specified volume.Term<strong>in</strong>ologyVolume Terms:Ristret<strong>to</strong> range: 1 ounce <strong>to</strong> 1.5 ounce doubles. Compared <strong>to</strong> normales, the taste will be more <strong>in</strong>tense andsweeter. Ristret<strong>to</strong>s usually have less crema.Normale range: 1.5 <strong>to</strong> 2 ounce doubles.Lungo range: 2 ounce <strong>to</strong> 3 ounce doubles. Compared <strong>to</strong> normales, the taste will be slightly milder and lesssweet; with certa<strong>in</strong> blends, the crema on a short lungo can be better than for normales.Color Terms:Dark s<strong>to</strong>p: s<strong>to</strong>pp<strong>in</strong>g the shot while the flow is still foamy and brown. Compared <strong>to</strong> a normal s<strong>to</strong>p with the samevolume, the taste will be slightly more <strong>in</strong>tense, and balanced <strong>to</strong>wards acidic.Normal s<strong>to</strong>p: s<strong>to</strong>pp<strong>in</strong>g the shot as the flow goes from foamy and brown <strong>to</strong> more watery and tan. This po<strong>in</strong>tmarks the optimum extraction amount of 20% of the coffee solids.Light s<strong>to</strong>p: s<strong>to</strong>pp<strong>in</strong>g the shot sometime after the flow has become watery and tan colored. Compared <strong>to</strong> a normals<strong>to</strong>p at the same volume, the taste will be slightly less <strong>in</strong>tense and balanced <strong>to</strong>wards bitter.Special Terms:

Optimum crema range: exact figures are basket dependent, but generally, normal <strong>to</strong> high flow rates are best.Typically 1.33 ounces dark-s<strong>to</strong>pped <strong>to</strong> 2.25 ounces normal-s<strong>to</strong>pped has the highest proportion of long last<strong>in</strong>gcrema. S<strong>in</strong>gles cannot extract at this flow rate, so tend <strong>to</strong> have less crema.Start dump: <strong>in</strong>itial few seconds of flow out of the portafilter, which is black and without crema, is allowed <strong>to</strong> go<strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> the drip tray. <strong>The</strong> cup is <strong>in</strong>serted only as the flow gets brown and foamy.Center cut: a start dumped and dark s<strong>to</strong>pped shot.Diagnos<strong>in</strong>g the Taste and Appearance of anExtractionDiagnostics means tast<strong>in</strong>g the espresso and correct<strong>in</strong>g itsdeficiencies by adjust<strong>in</strong>g setup or extraction parameters.In a perfect world, correct<strong>in</strong>g for one deficiency wouldnever <strong>in</strong>terfere with correct<strong>in</strong>g for another. In the realworld, there sometimes are conflicts, and you mustprioritize. <strong>The</strong> highest priority goes <strong>to</strong> gross cremadeficiencies, s<strong>in</strong>ce these <strong>in</strong>dicate that some parameter ofthe shot is well outside proper espresso range. <strong>The</strong> nextpriority is taste flaws that make a shot undr<strong>in</strong>kable. F<strong>in</strong>ally, with these elim<strong>in</strong>ated, you can work on f<strong>in</strong>etun<strong>in</strong>geveryth<strong>in</strong>g <strong>to</strong> get the most harmonious taste.Gross Crema DeficienciesGross deficiencies <strong>in</strong> the crema po<strong>in</strong>t <strong>to</strong> someth<strong>in</strong>g far out of whack and have the highest correctionpriority. However, the blend itself may have unusually light, dark or th<strong>in</strong> crema; so when you noticethese defects, taste the shot <strong>to</strong> confirm the problem.Too light and large bubbles: If the shot is less than 20 seconds, re-read the last section and set the gr<strong>in</strong>derproperly. If the shot time/volume was correct, the mach<strong>in</strong>e is runn<strong>in</strong>g drastically cold and requires immediatecorrection. <strong>The</strong> taste will be very th<strong>in</strong> and sour.Almost black, or a black outer r<strong>in</strong>g with t<strong>in</strong>y bubbles and th<strong>in</strong> crema: If the shot <strong>to</strong>ok forever <strong>to</strong> produce afew drops, reread the last section and correct the gr<strong>in</strong>d. Otherwise the mach<strong>in</strong>e is runn<strong>in</strong>g drastically hot andneeds immediate correction. <strong>The</strong> taste will be very bitter and burnt.Good color, but th<strong>in</strong> and quickly dissipat<strong>in</strong>g: keep the extraction <strong>in</strong> the optimum crema range, especially withdark roasts, but usually it's old beans. Rarely, it can show a defective pump not develop<strong>in</strong>g sufficient pressure. Inthis case, the taste will be balanced, but weak and with a watery mouthfeel.Taste Flaws<strong>The</strong>se taste flaws ru<strong>in</strong> the shot. Correct<strong>in</strong>g them takes precedence over work<strong>in</strong>g on the taste balance.Lemon peel: This can be a blend<strong>in</strong>g or roast<strong>in</strong>g error and irreparable. Short term, start-dump the shot. Longterm, set the temperature higher and make sure the gr<strong>in</strong>der burrs are sharp. This flaw comes from f<strong>in</strong>es of veryhigh quality coffees, and good blends tend <strong>to</strong> flirt with it.Metallic: Recently cleaned mach<strong>in</strong>es or brand new ones can have this. <strong>The</strong> taste is elim<strong>in</strong>ated most quickly byflush<strong>in</strong>g more after clean<strong>in</strong>g, or for new mach<strong>in</strong>es, pull<strong>in</strong>g a lot of shots and dump<strong>in</strong>g them. Dull burrs are anothercause. F<strong>in</strong>ally, a failure <strong>in</strong> the water treatment result<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> almost distilled, low m<strong>in</strong>eral water will cause this.12 hours on the hot plate taste: Time <strong>to</strong> backflush and clean the portafilter. Verify the frequency of yourclean<strong>in</strong>g schedule.Instant coffee taste: <strong>The</strong> mark of overextraction. Gr<strong>in</strong>d coarser and s<strong>to</strong>p darker, so volume stays the same. Ifthe bitter taste is prickly-sharp rather than dull, also lower the temperature.Th<strong>in</strong> and sourish: <strong>The</strong> mark of underextraction. Gr<strong>in</strong>d f<strong>in</strong>er and s<strong>to</strong>p lighter, so the volume stays the same. If thetaste is extremely sour, also raise the temperature.Salt or MSG: A common defect <strong>in</strong> Indonesian or slower roasted coffees, and difficult <strong>to</strong> correct. It is amelioratedby high crema content and sweet, ristret<strong>to</strong> shots, so dial-<strong>in</strong> exactly <strong>to</strong> 1.5 ounce, normal-s<strong>to</strong>p color shots. If that

fails, also start-dump, s<strong>in</strong>ce the taste is slightly more concentrated there. F<strong>in</strong>ally, strong flavors, particularly acidicones, can cover the salt taste. Consider lower<strong>in</strong>g the temperature <strong>to</strong> enhance these, if the blend's flavor balancepermits. <strong>The</strong> best solution is <strong>to</strong> f<strong>in</strong>d higher quality Indonesians for the blend and/or speed up the roast f<strong>in</strong>ish.Ash<strong>in</strong>ess: Usually a flaw <strong>in</strong> rapidly dark roasted, low grown coffees. Drop the temperature <strong>to</strong> the low end of theespresso range. Dial <strong>in</strong> <strong>to</strong> the lungo end of the optimum crema range and dark s<strong>to</strong>p the shot (you may be under20 seconds when you do this, that's OK). <strong>The</strong>se measures will not much reduce the ash<strong>in</strong>ess, but will mask theproblem with a little more brightness and crema. <strong>The</strong> real solution is <strong>to</strong> change blend.Rubber or Iod<strong>in</strong>e: Buy<strong>in</strong>g cheap coffee? This is the classic reason for start-dump<strong>in</strong>g.Sewage, decay, mold, sausage or cabbage smells: This is from badly fermented coffee. If the blend isnormally good, it's from a st<strong>in</strong>ker bean. Clean out the doser and burrs. If it keeps happen<strong>in</strong>g, there's noth<strong>in</strong>g youcan do except get new coffee. <strong>The</strong> importer slipped the roaster a bum bag, and the problem has <strong>to</strong> be resolvedthere.Unbalanced TasteWhen the crema is right and the shot has no taste flaws, you can f<strong>in</strong>e-tune the setup and extraction <strong>to</strong>provide the most harmonious and balanced taste possible. Although everyone wants balanced taste, theexact comb<strong>in</strong>ation of sweet, bitter and sours tastes that any person considers balanced is extremelyvariable. So these adjustments will be subjective; and there may be more than one optimum set up forthe blend, especially if it is complex <strong>in</strong> taste.Not sweet enough: Do more ristret<strong>to</strong> shots, gr<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g f<strong>in</strong>er and s<strong>to</strong>pp<strong>in</strong>g at the same color. This will take the sho<strong>to</strong>ut of the optimum crema range, so it has <strong>to</strong> be a good crema blend. You can also center cut the shots, however,this will reduce the dist<strong>in</strong>ctive flavors and can lead <strong>to</strong> blandness. On the other hand, somewhat bland center cutshots are good way <strong>to</strong> serve newcomers <strong>to</strong> straight espresso; or those who prefer more subtle flavors.Over-<strong>in</strong>tense flavors: Lower the pump pressure. If this is because there's not enough sweetness <strong>to</strong> balance thebitters and sours, use the previous fix. Also consider go<strong>in</strong>g more lungo with the same s<strong>to</strong>p color.Pallid Flavors: Raise the pressure. Also consider go<strong>in</strong>g more ristret<strong>to</strong> with the same s<strong>to</strong>p color.Overly sour: Raise the temperature. Short term, try<strong>in</strong>g s<strong>to</strong>pp<strong>in</strong>g lighter and gr<strong>in</strong>d<strong>in</strong>g f<strong>in</strong>er <strong>to</strong> keep the volume thesame. If it's really bad, start-dump.Overly bitter: Lower the temperature. Short term, try s<strong>to</strong>pp<strong>in</strong>g darker and coarsen<strong>in</strong>g the gr<strong>in</strong>d <strong>to</strong> keep thevolume the same.Pursu<strong>in</strong>g the GodshotIf you've never tasted great espresso, you may have read the last section and asked yourself how youcan do all the diagnostics. You have good taste, otherwise I can hardly imag<strong>in</strong>e how you've read this far.Good espresso isn't a punch <strong>in</strong> the mouth, but tastes wonderful. Expect that, trust your taste andjudgment, and make the adjustments accord<strong>in</strong>gly. <strong>The</strong>n taste the results. You'll improve very quickly.To further develop that taste, it greatly helps <strong>to</strong> sample <strong>to</strong>p flight espresso and get a feel for all itspossibilities. Take every opportunity <strong>to</strong> visit good cafés and roasters, and try their espresso and blends.Ask the coffee people there what you are tast<strong>in</strong>g and how <strong>to</strong> tell if it's right. Don't worry about gett<strong>in</strong>gbad <strong>in</strong>formation—it's a lot easier <strong>to</strong> recognize a good coffee person than a good coffee because theirenthusiasm gives them away.You can go further by dr<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g <strong>to</strong>p flight estate coffeesbrewed regularly and learn<strong>in</strong>g how the coffees fromdifferent places <strong>in</strong> the world vary. In comparison <strong>to</strong> w<strong>in</strong>eand other gourmet items, coffee is the most economicalof the truly great taste experiences. Deepen yourappreciation even further by home roast<strong>in</strong>g you own

coffees and blend<strong>in</strong>g them for espresso, or tak<strong>in</strong>g part at tast<strong>in</strong>gs conducted by roasters.<strong>The</strong>re is a large variety of espresso equipment, and it's useful <strong>to</strong> know someth<strong>in</strong>g of the possibilities.<strong>The</strong>se are discussed <strong>in</strong> great detail on the coffee Internet sites (see the resources and the rest of thissite). If this <strong>in</strong>terests you, participate <strong>in</strong> these discussions. <strong>The</strong>re are frequent get-<strong>to</strong>gethers that areorganized via these sites, so you will also get some hands on experience.<strong>Espresso</strong> is a social world. If you want <strong>to</strong> turn this <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> a serious hobby, jo<strong>in</strong> the Specialty <strong>Coffee</strong>Association of America (SCAA), attend conventions and barista competitions, get <strong>to</strong> know others likeyourself, as well as the stars of the bus<strong>in</strong>ess. If you like espresso and coffee, I guarantee you'll enjoythe activity and like the people you meet.F<strong>in</strong>ally, coffee is a big global bus<strong>in</strong>ess. It encompasses large numbers of very poor farmers whoselivelihoods are frequently <strong>in</strong> the balance, a few very big bus<strong>in</strong>esses buy<strong>in</strong>g from them cheap and cutt<strong>in</strong>gquality, a mass public that doesn't know much about coffee except that it's a pick-me-up, and a group ofenthusiastic dr<strong>in</strong>kers and purveyors who love coffee. As enthusiasts, it's <strong>in</strong>cumbent on us <strong>to</strong> convey <strong>to</strong>others how reward<strong>in</strong>g good coffee can be. If we don't understand the coffee trade and its issues, and ifwe don't foster a wider appreciation of good coffee, many farmers will suffer, some of the world's greatcoffees may disappear, and we will all be the poorer for it.Barista Technique:Froth<strong>in</strong>g MilkMilk dr<strong>in</strong>ks are only a small part of Italian espresso culture; whereas <strong>in</strong> most of the US, people haveoversized milk dr<strong>in</strong>ks that even an anthropologist would never classify as cultured. But <strong>in</strong> a few cafésaround the world, baristas are us<strong>in</strong>g milk as a pa<strong>in</strong>t and espresso as a canvas <strong>to</strong> create beautiful andwonderful tast<strong>in</strong>g latte art.<strong>The</strong> best and most practiced professional baristas can create quite stunn<strong>in</strong>g patterns that a home baristawill not be able <strong>to</strong> emulate. But with some months practice, you can learn <strong>to</strong> properly froth the milk, andpour basic heart and rosette patterns <strong>in</strong> 6 or 12 ounce cups. <strong>The</strong>re is no easier way of conv<strong>in</strong>c<strong>in</strong>g yourfriends of your espresso expertise than casually serv<strong>in</strong>g them an artfully poured latte.Correctly frothed milk = microfoam = wonderful cappucc<strong>in</strong>osProper cappucc<strong>in</strong>os and lattes require microfoam—a pourable, virtually liquid foam that tastes sweet andrich. <strong>The</strong> pour<strong>in</strong>g consistency runs from completely liquid for latte art <strong>to</strong> a slightly thickened sauce fortraditional cappucc<strong>in</strong>os. If the foam becomes thicker, like soft peak beaten egg whites, its taste turns <strong>to</strong>cardboard, and its appearance <strong>in</strong> the cup suffers. Microfoam <strong>in</strong> the pitcher does not look like a foam,s<strong>in</strong>ce the bubbles are <strong>to</strong>o small. <strong>The</strong> only dist<strong>in</strong>ction it has from liquid milk is a soft, slightly spectralsheen <strong>in</strong> the right light. If the frothed milk has visible foam, it was <strong>in</strong>correctly prepared. <strong>The</strong> picturebelow shows a bad foam (left) and a slightly thick microfoam suitable for cappucc<strong>in</strong>os (right).

Contrast<strong>in</strong>g texture of poorly frothed milk (left) and properly frothedmicrofoam (right)Froth<strong>in</strong>g milk <strong>to</strong> a microfoam is very simple when you know how <strong>to</strong> do it, but it does take time <strong>to</strong> learn.Two processes occur when milk is frothed: first, when the tip is at the right depth, the milk is converted<strong>to</strong> microfoam; second, the milk is heated. <strong>The</strong>se two do not happen at the same rate on every mach<strong>in</strong>eor tip design, so the po<strong>in</strong>t at which you transition from foam<strong>in</strong>g the milk <strong>to</strong> simply heat<strong>in</strong>g it varies frommach<strong>in</strong>e <strong>to</strong> mach<strong>in</strong>e. F<strong>in</strong>ally, the amount of steam varies from mach<strong>in</strong>e <strong>to</strong> mach<strong>in</strong>e <strong>to</strong>o, so the timespent <strong>to</strong> heat enough milk for a six ounce cappucc<strong>in</strong>o can go from 10 <strong>to</strong> 40 seconds.Four th<strong>in</strong>gs <strong>to</strong> learnWhere <strong>to</strong> put the tip: <strong>The</strong>re are three zones dist<strong>in</strong>guished by sound. In the first zone nearest thesurface, the tip makes a bubbl<strong>in</strong>g noise and as it gets slightly deeper, a suck<strong>in</strong>g or tear<strong>in</strong>g noise. In thesecond <strong>in</strong>termediate zone, there is very little noise. In third zone near the bot<strong>to</strong>m of the pitcher, themilk beg<strong>in</strong>s <strong>to</strong> roar loudly.<strong>The</strong> tip should stay <strong>in</strong> the second, silent zone for the entire process. In order <strong>to</strong> create microfoam,position the tip at the <strong>to</strong>p boundary, so you occasionally hear a suck<strong>in</strong>g/tear<strong>in</strong>g noise. Too much of thesuck<strong>in</strong>g/tear<strong>in</strong>g noise and the foam will stiffen and not be micro enough. To just heat the milk after thefoam<strong>in</strong>g is done, position the tip near the lower boundary so you occasionally hear a roar<strong>in</strong>g noise.<strong>The</strong> milk <strong>in</strong> the pitcher should whirlpool or form a stand<strong>in</strong>g wave of turbulence <strong>in</strong> order <strong>to</strong> fold foam <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong>liquid. With a one hole tip, angle the entry, and keep it close <strong>to</strong> the edge of the pitcher <strong>to</strong> rotate the milk<strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> a whirlpool. With a multi-hole tip, po<strong>in</strong>t it straight down and keep it near the center of the pitcher—the hole dispersion pattern on a properly designed tip will create a whirlpool or a stand<strong>in</strong>g wave ofturbulence for you. If your multi-hole tip does not do this, change it for another, or block some holesand convert it <strong>to</strong> slower, s<strong>in</strong>gle hole use.How long <strong>to</strong> foam: As the liquid turns <strong>to</strong> foam, the volume of the milk <strong>in</strong>creases. This is calledstretch<strong>in</strong>g. Keep foam<strong>in</strong>g until the milk has gone up about 50% <strong>in</strong> volume. If you foam more than that,you will get a light microfoam for the classic cap-on-<strong>to</strong>p cappucc<strong>in</strong>o, but latte art will be impossible.

Typically, the side of the pitcher will be lukewarm (40°C, 100°F) at this po<strong>in</strong>t. However, volume <strong>in</strong>creaseis a far more reliable <strong>in</strong>dica<strong>to</strong>r, and with some froth<strong>in</strong>g setups, one even keeps the tip at the foam<strong>in</strong>gpo<strong>in</strong>t until the milk is fully heated.How much longer <strong>to</strong> heat the milk: <strong>The</strong> milk should be heated <strong>to</strong> about 70°C (160°F), which is justbelow the po<strong>in</strong>t where prote<strong>in</strong> curdles and the foam is destroyed. <strong>The</strong> easiest way <strong>to</strong> do this is <strong>to</strong> holdone hand on the side of the pitcher and s<strong>to</strong>p when it gets uncomfortably hot. If the milk suddenly<strong>in</strong>creases <strong>in</strong> volume, the prote<strong>in</strong>s are curdl<strong>in</strong>g, and you've gotten it <strong>to</strong>o hot. With experience and aslower frother, you can hold the pitcher by the side rather than the handle and have your other handfree (it also helps <strong>to</strong> have a higher pa<strong>in</strong> threshold!).How long <strong>to</strong> wait before pour<strong>in</strong>g: This <strong>to</strong>pic is treated fully <strong>in</strong> the next section, Pour<strong>in</strong>g Latte Art.Barista Technique:Pour<strong>in</strong>g Latte ArtIf you followed the <strong>in</strong>struction on the previous page, the milk will <strong>in</strong>itially be very liquid and will hardlymark the surface of the espresso. After about 10 <strong>to</strong> 20 seconds, it will thicken <strong>to</strong> the right po<strong>in</strong>t for welldef<strong>in</strong>ed latte art. After about 20 <strong>to</strong> 25 seconds, you can pour someth<strong>in</strong>g with blurry shapes, a middleth<strong>in</strong>g between a cappucc<strong>in</strong>o and latte art. After that, a simple round cappucc<strong>in</strong>o foam cap will form.Swirl the mug a few times and rap it gently aga<strong>in</strong>st the counter just after froth<strong>in</strong>g and just beforepour<strong>in</strong>g.On a s<strong>in</strong>gle boiler home mach<strong>in</strong>e, some people prefer <strong>to</strong> froth first and then make the espresso. In thiscase the milk will stand about one m<strong>in</strong>ute. In order <strong>to</strong> keep the foam capable of latte art, reduce the<strong>in</strong>itial stretch <strong>to</strong> about 33% and frequently swirl the pitcher while you wait.Steps <strong>to</strong> pour<strong>in</strong>g latte art<strong>The</strong> prevail<strong>in</strong>g usage calls a dr<strong>in</strong>k of any size with latte art patterns a latte. If a dr<strong>in</strong>k of any size with ashallow cap of soft foam on <strong>to</strong>p is called a cappucc<strong>in</strong>o. A dr<strong>in</strong>k with a hard foam cap is called ru<strong>in</strong>ed.<strong>The</strong> exception is the macchiat<strong>to</strong>, which is a ristret<strong>to</strong> espresso with about one ounce of milk either <strong>in</strong>cappucc<strong>in</strong>o or latte art form, depend<strong>in</strong>g on your wish, and the barista's whim or skill. Good cafés will notserve anyth<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> larger than a twelve ounce cup. I and most purists frown on any milk dr<strong>in</strong>k larger thansix ounces.If you are pour<strong>in</strong>g a cappucc<strong>in</strong>o, let the frothed milk rest for 30 seconds prior <strong>to</strong> pour<strong>in</strong>g. A cap of softfoam will form au<strong>to</strong>matically. <strong>The</strong> softness of the foam cap is a check on how well you've microfrothed.Do not attempt latte art until you get the soft foam cappucc<strong>in</strong>os, s<strong>in</strong>ce this confirms that you arefroth<strong>in</strong>g correctly.Below are the steps <strong>to</strong> pour<strong>in</strong>g latte art:Turn the handle of the cup <strong>to</strong> the left and turn the saucer away from you if it has letter<strong>in</strong>g. <strong>The</strong> setup should befac<strong>in</strong>g the person be<strong>in</strong>g served.Let the frothed milk sit 10 <strong>to</strong> 20 seconds.Tilt the cup <strong>to</strong>wards yourself until it is close <strong>to</strong> spill<strong>in</strong>g. <strong>The</strong> more the tilt, the more quickly the milk will mark thesurface (rather than s<strong>in</strong>k<strong>in</strong>g out of sight).Slowly start pour<strong>in</strong>g the milk at the lower end (closer <strong>to</strong> you) until you see a cloud of white billow<strong>in</strong>g up.For a heart, move the pour <strong>to</strong>wards the center, and oscillate it side <strong>to</strong> side.

For a rosette, move the pour <strong>to</strong> the far end and zig zag it <strong>to</strong>wards your end.End the pour with a very light stroke away from you <strong>to</strong> the far end of the cup.As you pour the milk, level (untilt) the cup smoothly so noth<strong>in</strong>g spills.<strong>The</strong> rosetta <strong>in</strong> a cappucc<strong>in</strong>o (left) and macchiat<strong>to</strong> (right)All this sounds easy, but requires constant practice. If you are a natural, it will take a few weeks,otherwise a few months. Larger dr<strong>in</strong>ks are easier <strong>to</strong> pour than smaller ones. My conservative advice is <strong>to</strong>pour only dr<strong>in</strong>ks you consume or serve, and let your expertise grow gradually. If you are <strong>in</strong> a hurry, buya few gallons of milk, a lot of coffee, and just churn out lattes till you have it down pat. Gett<strong>in</strong>g a coachwho knows how <strong>to</strong> do this, or watch<strong>in</strong>g some of the videos, will help a lot.<strong>Espresso</strong> Mach<strong>in</strong>eClean<strong>in</strong>g and Ma<strong>in</strong>tenanceSome people beh<strong>in</strong>d the counters <strong>in</strong> cafés are not even allowed <strong>to</strong> adjust their gr<strong>in</strong>ders, let alonema<strong>in</strong>ta<strong>in</strong> their mach<strong>in</strong>es. <strong>The</strong>y learn so little about espresso that they will be replaced by au<strong>to</strong>maticpush-but<strong>to</strong>n mach<strong>in</strong>es. Professional or home baristas who pride themselves on their espresso shouldknow enough about espresso mach<strong>in</strong>es <strong>to</strong> keep them <strong>in</strong> good condition.Clean<strong>in</strong>gEach time you make an espresso, coffee grounds get on the screen and rubber gasket <strong>in</strong> the group.Some people recommend the "portafilter wriggle," that is, runn<strong>in</strong>g water and wriggl<strong>in</strong>g the emptyportafilter between shots <strong>to</strong> take care of this. However, this will not prevent gunk from accumulat<strong>in</strong>g onthe gasket. Use a grouphead brush regularly (preferably after every shot, but m<strong>in</strong>imally once a day forhome use) <strong>to</strong> clean the group gasket.

Brewed coffee diffuses up the water path <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> the group dur<strong>in</strong>g the extraction process. With time, thecoffee oils accumulate and impart a stale coffee taste (a prickl<strong>in</strong>g on the palate) <strong>to</strong> every shot.Backflush<strong>in</strong>g the mach<strong>in</strong>e removes this buildup. This is done by <strong>in</strong>sert<strong>in</strong>g a bl<strong>in</strong>d basket (a basket withno holes) <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> the portafilter, add<strong>in</strong>g a teaspoon full of espresso mach<strong>in</strong>e detergent and runn<strong>in</strong>g thepump for fifteen <strong>to</strong> twenty seconds. Typically this is repeated about five times without add<strong>in</strong>g newdetergent, followed by five pla<strong>in</strong> water backflushes <strong>to</strong> r<strong>in</strong>se. Some people claim that just us<strong>in</strong>g a pla<strong>in</strong>water backflush without detergent more frequently achieves the same goal. I have not found this <strong>to</strong> betrue, and s<strong>in</strong>ce coffee oils are <strong>in</strong>soluble <strong>in</strong> pla<strong>in</strong> water, I see no reason why it should be. For home use,backflush<strong>in</strong>g every two weeks or so is sufficient, while a caféneeds <strong>to</strong> do it nightly.water through it.Backflush<strong>in</strong>g only works on mach<strong>in</strong>es with a 3-way exhaustvalve (these whoosh at the end of the shot and release thepressurized water rema<strong>in</strong><strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> the group <strong>in</strong><strong>to</strong> the drip tray).Smaller home mach<strong>in</strong>es do not have these. Such mach<strong>in</strong>escan be cleaned by plac<strong>in</strong>g a detergent such as CleanCaf <strong>in</strong>the tank and runn<strong>in</strong>g it through the entire mach<strong>in</strong>e.Afterwards, the mach<strong>in</strong>e is r<strong>in</strong>sed by runn<strong>in</strong>g lots of clean<strong>Coffee</strong> oils also accumulate on portafilters, especially <strong>in</strong> the spout. You should let them soak overnight <strong>in</strong>a bowl filled with water and a table spoon of backflush detergent. Cafés do this every night, but onceevery week or two is enough for home usage.Gr<strong>in</strong>ders should be cleaned by disassembl<strong>in</strong>g the burrs and blow<strong>in</strong>g out the gr<strong>in</strong>d chamber withcompressed air or a shop vac. When us<strong>in</strong>g compressed air, it helps <strong>to</strong> work with a plastic bag over the<strong>to</strong>p the gr<strong>in</strong>der s<strong>in</strong>ce a lot of coffee flies around. Once a year, gr<strong>in</strong>d through some white rice <strong>to</strong> clear outthe coffee oils accumulat<strong>in</strong>g on the burrs. After do<strong>in</strong>g this, gr<strong>in</strong>d through some sacrificial coffee <strong>to</strong> clearout the rice powder.Ma<strong>in</strong>tenanceAs the owner of a home mach<strong>in</strong>e, you should be able <strong>to</strong> change out the group gasket and screen, fixm<strong>in</strong>or leaks and electrical glitches, and flush and descale the mach<strong>in</strong>e. However, the details of this aremach<strong>in</strong>e dependent. Refer <strong>to</strong> your owner's manual, the l<strong>in</strong>ks <strong>in</strong> this article, and the resource section onthis site.Conclusion and ResourcesThroughout this piece, I urge people <strong>to</strong> talk <strong>to</strong> coffee professionalsand other hobbyists, <strong>to</strong> try the famous espresso blends and cafés,and even <strong>to</strong> home roast, cup and blend for themselves. Ten yearsago this would have been virtually impossible; five years ago,

difficult. But s<strong>in</strong>ce then the coffee Internet has exploded. It has put coffee enthusiasts from all aroundthe world <strong>in</strong> <strong>to</strong>uch with each other, circulated new knowledge more widely and more rapidly than everbefore, and created a market large enough so several Internet vendors specializ<strong>in</strong>g <strong>in</strong> coffee relatedwares can make a liv<strong>in</strong>g and provide us with a dizzy<strong>in</strong>g selection of state of the art items. <strong>The</strong> Internethas created a golden age for hobbyists <strong>in</strong> general, and for coffee hobbyists <strong>in</strong> particular.<strong>The</strong>re are thousands of coffee related sites. Here is a very short list of some of the major ones, as wellas some of my favorites, organized by type.Information and Review Sites<strong>Coffee</strong> FAQ: Everyth<strong>in</strong>g you ever wanted know <strong>in</strong> a handy format. Thanks Scott<strong>Coffee</strong>Geek: <strong>Espresso</strong> Wunderk<strong>in</strong>d, Mark <strong>Pr<strong>in</strong>ce</strong>; features equipment reviews and many more consumer reviews<strong>Home</strong>-Barista.com (this site): High-end espresso equipment reviews for the home market and how <strong>to</strong>'s<strong>Coffee</strong> Review: Ken David's, the popularizer of homeroast<strong>in</strong>g, monthly reviews of roast coffees<strong>Coffee</strong>Cuppers.com: Jim Schulman's and Bob Yell<strong>in</strong>'s expert green coffee reviews<strong>Coffee</strong> His<strong>to</strong>ry: Mommy, why are those goats danc<strong>in</strong>g?Schomer's Table: <strong>The</strong> thoughts of the orig<strong>in</strong>al Seattle espresso guruHV's Comprehensive <strong>Coffee</strong> L<strong>in</strong>ks: You wanted more l<strong>in</strong>ks?<strong>Espresso</strong> Italiano: If you want the official Italian, and quite poetic def<strong>in</strong>ition of espresso<strong>The</strong> <strong>Coffee</strong> Research Organization: a useful <strong>in</strong>formation website on coffee basics <strong>in</strong>clud<strong>in</strong>g espressoWater FAQ: not really up <strong>to</strong> this standard; but I wrote it, so it's <strong>in</strong>.Newsgroups and ForumsAlt.coffee: the first Internet coffee hangout. web access via Google<strong>Coffee</strong>Geek Forums: Only a few years old, but clos<strong>in</strong>g fast.<strong>Home</strong>-Barista.com Forums: New kid on the block, but worth check<strong>in</strong>g out (especially if you wish <strong>to</strong> comment on oroffer corrections for this article).Roasters and cafésRiley's <strong>Coffee</strong> and Fudge: Barry Jarrett, the owner, is the first pro who <strong>to</strong>ok notice of people talk<strong>in</strong>g coffee on theInternet. So Riley's is hereby named the official café/roaster of the <strong>Coffee</strong>-Internet. Also, June's fudges areso good, they might start an Internet of their ownIntelligentsia: In my home<strong>to</strong>wn, Chicago. Great coffee, great peopleGillies: New York's Don Schoenholt is one of the founders of specialty coffee, and a great supporter of coffeeenthusiastsDallis Brothers: Gillies NYC competi<strong>to</strong>rs, also terrific peopleGimme <strong>Coffee</strong>: <strong>The</strong>re's good coffee descriptions, there's bad coffee descriptions, then there's Gimme'sdescriptions. But the educational material is solid enough for a bankerCounter Culture <strong>Coffee</strong>: Real espresso <strong>in</strong> the Old South? You bet. Another great supporter of us enthusiastsH<strong>in</strong>es Public Market: Seattle Haut café. Seattle is the center of North American coffee cultureZoka: More SeattleCafé Victrola: More SeattleCaffé D'Arte: You guessed it<strong>Espresso</strong> Vivace: Last but not least Seattle. <strong>The</strong>re's lot's more, but I'm tired of typ<strong>in</strong>g SeattleStump<strong>to</strong>wn: In Portland; one of the best <strong>in</strong> North AmericaSupreme Bean: LA's roaster <strong>to</strong> the stars; nevertheless, their espresso blends are great.<strong>Home</strong> Roast<strong>in</strong>g and Green <strong>Coffee</strong>Sweet Maria's: Not just a vendor; but the Free University of home roast<strong>in</strong>g <strong>to</strong>o.<strong>Coffee</strong> Bean Corral: Russ sits on a Hawaian porch sipp<strong>in</strong>g coffees. <strong>The</strong> ones that fit, he sells.<strong>Coffee</strong> Wholesalers: Chuck is a roaster who sells some of his s<strong>to</strong>ck green, and occasionally makes neat gizmos forhome roasters<strong>Coffee</strong> Project: James' list is available <strong>to</strong> home roastersGreen <strong>Coffee</strong> Coop: 5lb m<strong>in</strong>imum lots at coop prices, vetted by Bob Yell<strong>in</strong>, the best amateur cupper I know.Internet <strong>Coffee</strong> Equipment Vendors

Whole Latte Love: One of the orig<strong>in</strong>al Internet home coffee equipment vendors1st-l<strong>in</strong>e equipment: <strong>The</strong> other orig<strong>in</strong>alChris' <strong>Coffee</strong> Service: A commercial coffee equipment retailer who also sells high-end home equipmentPersonal Websites and BlogsBread, <strong>Coffee</strong>, Yoga, and Chocolate: if there's a role model for coffee enthusiasts, it's Fortune<strong>Espresso</strong>! My <strong>Espresso</strong>: <strong>The</strong> ultimate love s<strong>to</strong>ry: boy meets espresso mach<strong>in</strong>e ... But seriously, Randy's site has<strong>to</strong>ns of solid <strong>in</strong>fo on everyth<strong>in</strong>g an espresso lover wants <strong>to</strong> knowGod Shot: Chris Tacy's blog. He is a "3rd wave" barista: a taster, a roaster, and an officer of the Barista Guild ofAmerica.Professional AssociationsSCAA: Specialty <strong>Coffee</strong> Association of America. <strong>The</strong> <strong>in</strong>dustry group for real coffee. Jo<strong>in</strong> as a consumer-memberNCA: National <strong>Coffee</strong> Association. <strong>The</strong> enemy. Industry group for Folgers, etc.Barista Guild of America: A new association formed by enthusiastic and knowledgeable professional baristasRoasters Guild: <strong>The</strong> association for professional craft roasters.

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