The kind that requires no sugar and is reminiscent of the potential flavor and viscosity of dessert wine. I'm currently drinking a stunning Operation Cherry Red, naturally processed coffee from the Sidamo region in Ethiopia. It displays an up front musk with rich apricot marmalade to follow, not dissimilar to one of my favorite dessert wines from the island of Pantelleria of the coast of Sicilia – "Ben Rye" by Donnafugata which is full of luscious sweet dried apricots.
With both coffee and wine it is possible to transport and generate the feeling of place through the sensory experience that each offer – particularly when drinking single estate and single varietal wines or coffees. I find it amazing that all of nature’s treasure chest of ingredients – starting from spices through to various forms of fruits and vegetables – can be magically transformed into perceivable forms in our glass of wine or coffee. A fantastic reflection of the botanical variety, terrior and processing. Integrity is the key to expressing clarity and potential flavor profile.
So, how do you make amazing Espresso at home?
Source your coffee direct from a roaster who takes pride in the process. This means sourcing specialty green bean coffee and bringing it to life in a way that best exhibits the coffees natural organic profile. Purchase whole bean coffee that has been roasted with the espresso brewing method in mind and in small amounts that you will use within one week. Aim to use the coffee with in 3-5 days after it has been roasted.
Once you have opened the bag, store the coffee in a specially designed coffee saver. This will allow you to remove the oxygen from the environment around the coffee and stop the oxidation process. Place the coffee saver in cool and dry cellar-like conditions away from light. Heat, light, moisture and oxygen all cause coffee to deteriorate faster than it will naturally do so.
Grind the coffee directly into the filter basket just prior to extraction, ideally on a high quality conical burr grinder which has step less and micro metric settings for adjusting the coarseness of the coffee grind.
Espresso is a unique brewing method that will create a concentrated, viscous expression of the coffee you are brewing. For this to occur, your espresso machine must deliver fresh and filtered water to the group head that is ideally between 8-9 bars of atmospheric pressure and with a brewing temperature between 92-94 degrees.
If the extraction is dripping at any point the espresso is more than likely to be over extracted, whereas if it is pouring liberally without resistance the espresso is going to be under extracted. Start tasting the espresso when you have the extraction pouring like thick, dark honey as if it were resisting as it pours evenly out of both spouts. When drinking espresso it is best to cut the extraction at the first point of colour change this will be at approximately 10-12mls.
The two variables that you will need to manage in order to control the extraction quality are the amount of coffee in the filter basket and the coarseness of the coffee grind. A finer grind setting will slow the the extraction down. Equally dosing more coffee in the basket will also slow the extraction. Conversely, making the coarseness of the coffee particles larger or lowering the dose level in the basket will create less resistance and a faster extraction. Always pack the coffee with firm even level and pressure rotate the tamper back and forth a few times to polish and seal the coffee surface.
Where to start
Does the coffee to a level in the basket where it is able to expand gently up onto the shower screen during the brewing process? On most filter baskets this will be just on or 1mm underneath the spring line.