How Espresso Works

Espresso is a shot-sized glass containing a small amount of concentrated coffee. You can consider espresso just stronger coffee, as it has more caffeine than regular coffee. The intense and thick texture of espresso makes it a favored beverage among many Americans, and the consumption of espresso and other drinks based on it has increased up to 30% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Espresso coffee has high amounts of antioxidants and many minerals that boost the body’s immune system and reduce the risks of heart diseases and strokes. Different types of espresso are prepared by adding sweeteners or milk, such as cappuccino, Caffè latte, Americano, mocha, etc.

Average American drinks between two or three cups of coffee per day, and the consumption of espresso and espresso-based drinks encourages more and more people to buy espresso machines for their offices or homes. Even though these compact machines are smaller in scale than the large commercial machines, they operate on more or less the same principles.

Here we will discuss the basic functions of an espresso machine, from the water source to a prepared cup of coffee. But first, let’s look at the key elements of espresso coffee.

1. Beans

The coffee beans from which espresso is made are roasted longer than normal coffee beans, which is why their oils are brought to the surface. The Arabica beans are favored as they provide the most balanced and flavorful espresso experience, determined by their acidity and bitterness.

An espresso shot’s quality is determined by its crema, which is the creamy foam that floats on top of the main body of the coffee. Crema defines good-quality espresso. For the best experience, the freshest beans prevent stale odor and oily crema.

2. Ground Coffee Beans

Espresso contains about half a tablespoon of ground coffee beans per 4 tablespoons of water, resulting in a shot of dark and concentrated coffee with a bittersweet flavor and thick consistency.

When the coffee beans are ground, the volatile oils are exposed, which begin to oxidize and lose their flavor and aroma, which is why these beans should be ground just before the brewing process. The espresso grind has a superfine sugar-like consistency, much finer than a regular coffee grind.

How Espresso Machine Works

Espresso lovers know its flavor’s importance and the right techniques that will result in a perfect cup every time. Let’s look at what happens when you prepare espresso from a machine.

1. Heating the Water

Espresso making starts by turning on the machine, which already contains water. When the heater light indicates that the water is just below boiling temperature, which is ideal for espresso, we move on to the next step.

2. Measuring the Coffee Ground

When the proper amount of ground coffee beans are measured, they are firmly packed into a metal cup with holes in the bottom. The grind is then tamped, which ensures the bean granules are interlocked, and water doesn’t rush through it, resulting in a weak coffee.

3. Proper Tamping

Various types of tamping tools are available, but the key factor is the optimum compactness of bean grounds, which is neither too hard nor too soft. The proper grind, dosing, and tamping are evaluated by the time it takes to extract one shot of espresso, which is usually 20-30 seconds.

4. Portafilter

A portafilter carries the tamped coffee grind within its basket and attaches it to the espresso machine’s group head. The portafilter is made of brass and attached with a wooden or plastic handle and directs the heated water at a high temperature through the coffee grounds. When the espresso comes out of the portafilter, it must look thick and syrupy, and the finished shot should have a golden crema with about 1/4″ to 1/3″ thickness.

What Determines a Perfect Espresso

Using the best coffee beans that are ground to the perfect consistency in a good machine determines how good the espresso is.

1. Consistency of Crema

Crema is essential in an espresso shot since it indicates a good quality coffee and well-ground coffee beans. The creamy layer gives a longer aftertaste and richer flavor to espresso.

The perfect espresso shot has a crema on top that has honey or brown-colored threads. If the espresso is under-extracted, its crema will be nonexistent or very thin, having a blonde color.

If the espresso is over-extracted, the crema is thin but has a burnt or brown appearance, not golden.

2. Cleanliness of Espresso Machine

Old grind residues contaminate the flavors of your espresso shot. Ensure that you clean all the parts of the espresso machines so that any stale beans are removed.

The coffee bean grinders must be thoroughly cleaned with a stiff brush to clean the plates so that the milk residue, rancid coffee bean oils, and limescale can be efficiently removed.

Espresso-based Coffee

Sometimes people do not enjoy straight-up drinking espresso due to its bittersweet taste and intense flavor. Several espresso-based drinks are prepared using milk and additive sweeteners.

1. Cappuccino

Although many establishments prefer to tweak these drinks according to their signature style, cappuccino usually contains one-third espresso, one-third foam, and one-third milk. Sometimes they even include a generous cocoa powder sprinkle on top.

2. Latte

Latte is one part espresso and two parts milk. Latte is milkier than a cappuccino and is prepared with hot steamed milk. Italians prefer this milky coffee in the mornings.

3. Caffè Americano

Caffè Americano is prepared by diluting the espresso with hot water, which modifies its flavor but retains the strength of the coffee. Americano, also referred to as long black, is prepared by pouring espresso on top of hot water or diluting the espresso later on.

Wrapping Up

True espresso devotees will ensure they get the perfect shot by roasting their coffee beans, confirming proper grinding and tapping, and having the perfect consistency of crema. One needs devotion, practice, and dedication to perfect the art of making espresso.

Stop by PUCCI Cafe today and watch our Baristas and their style. We are serving Third Wave Espressos.  Third-wave coffee is a movement in coffee marketing emphasizing high quality.  As one of customers said it in a review of PUCCI Cafe:  “I feel like I’ve never had real coffee before.”  🙂