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Espresso

Organic Coffee

ESPRESSO: a concentrated hot beverage made from coffee beans. Essentially the essence of the bean has been extracted by means of controlled heat and pressure of water as it is forced through a finely ground, fine quality, dark roasted coffee.
     Usually 7 grams of coffee, tamped at 50 psi. 1 to 1 1/2 ounces of hot water is forced through the grounds at 135 PSI for 18 - 24 seconds.
   A good shot of esspresso can be identified by its appearance. There should be a light brown "crema" or foam floating on the top of the shot that with a gentle motion will do a lazy cling to the sides of the cup.
     Sometimes this beverage is called "Expresso".

 

The information on this page is geared toward the highly specialized brewing method know as "espresso". The same information as it applies to a regular cup of coffee can be found at our "The Perfect Cup" page and you will find links to it from most of the topics below.

The Bean

A good shot of espresso starts with a really, really, really, superb bean. And guess what? You are will positioned right at this moment to get what are perhaps the finest beans possible for a great shot of espresso, or espresso drink.
     Typically a good bean for espresso is, well, "Espresso" roast, or "Italian". Frequently though, beans from Italy stand a good chance of being Robusta or a blend that includes Robusta, which don't yield the truly fine cup. Coffee connoisseurs always go with a good Arabica bean.
     Briefly, Robusta beans are an economical to produce, low-altitude, disease resistant bean that yields a less than optimum flavor in the cup. Arabica is generally cultivated at high-altitudes and is the superior species of bean.

Read more on Arabica versus Robusta coffee beans

The Roast

The assignation of the term "Italian" to a roast indicates a very dark roast. Some find that the flavor of a "French Roast" serves the purpose quite nicely. Tesoros Del Sol™ Dark Roast makes an awesome espresso. Acceptable roasts, in our humble opinion, for espresso coffee are: Italian, Espresso, French Roast, and frankly, any bean that is dark in appearance with the trademark oily appearance. Some purists might take exception to the use of French Roast, but it is perhaps the most popular roast, and it is always dark and oily. Espresso has its origin in Italy, so typically the "Italian" roast is favored by purist espresso afficcionados. Interesting that Italian Roast coffee is almost always a blend that involves the use of some Robusta beans. Green beans in Italy are prohibitavly expensive, so the less expensive Robusta bean is used to dilute the expense a bit. This is not to say that all Italian roast is in fact from Italy. "Italian" roast can simply mean "really dark roast, good for espresso". There is often very little difference between "Italian" roast, and "Espresso" roast.

Read more on Roasting

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Grinding

Espresso grind is a fine grind. Most commercial grinders come with a setting for espresso and it is usually the finest of the grinds. A home burr grinder may have an "Espresso" setting, or "Fine". How important is this to the finished product? The acceptable range of grind for extracting the desirable qualities from the bean is extremely narrow, and it is a key to insuring a great shot. Real serious espresso lovers require that the brewing take place within 15 seconds of grinding since a deteriorating of the grounds begins that quickly.

Read more on grinding

The Water

Filtered water is the best. It should be delivered at 195° - 197° F, and should amount to 1 - 1 1/2 ounces per shot. The water should be forced through the grounds for 18 - 24 seconds, and then served immediately. Again there is a time limit on optimum flavor and so the drink should be served within 15 seconds.

Read more on water

Espresso Machines

When one shops for an espresso machine, they will notice the huge price range on them and undoubtedly wonder why. Talking here just about the home-style machines, and not the commercial. The quick answer is that some machines are pump driven (good) and others are not (not so good, but not necessarily bad). The non-pump type use the pressure of steam to force the water through the grounds. So the outcome is a little more controlled with the pump driven machine than with the steam type. The non-pump machines don't say "non-pump" nor "steam driven" nor anything like that on the box. They simply don't say "pump driven" or "pump anything". All pump driven machines will make mention of the fact on the box. That little pump generally kicks the price up quite a bit, but they last for a good while.

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