Getting All the Ingredients in Your Coffee Right: Grinding for Espresso Makers
Do you love espresso? Not just the taste of coffee – we’re talking about the rich, classic, iconic flavor of freshly brewed espresso as it comes from a quality espresso machine. If your mouth is starting to water just thinking about your next tiny cup of perfectly extracted coffee, read on because this article has been written especially for you.
If you love espresso but you usually get your daily cup from your local coffeehouse, you might not give too much thought to how it has been made. But if you want to make your own espresso or want to make sure your barista is doing it just right, you might want to consider what goes into making a great cup of espresso. Let’s take a look at the details, and determine the best style of coffee grind for the beans you use to make espresso.
What Is Espresso?
Espresso is a shot of very concentrated coffee that has an extremely full flavor. Espresso shots may be added to other coffee drinks to give them a bolder taste, or they may be enjoyed on their own. They are often characterized by the “crema,” a rust-colored froth at the top of the shot that adds to the flavor. You get an espresso by pulling a shot of it out of an espresso machine.
How Do Espresso Machines Work?
No matter what your espresso machine looks like, they all do basically the same thing, which is quickly force extremely hot water through coffee grinds to extract a lot of flavor in a short amount of time.
To make the espresso shot, you pull a lever that applies about 130 PSI of pressure to the water as it pushes through the coffee grounds. The machine that holds the water and coffee grounds also has a boiler that heats up the water very quickly. In many modern espresso machines, you can just press a button to activate the pump and the pressure, and you do not need to do any actual pulling.
What Is the Best Coffee Grind for Espresso Machines?
To know which coffee grind to use for your espresso machine, it’s important to understand what we mean by coffee grinds, and how they directly affect the flavor of your coffee.
Your coffee grind is essentially how finely or coarsely the coffee beans are ground up. On one side of the spectrum, you have coarse grinds, which can vary from textures like coarse sand to peppercorns; in the middle there is a medium grind, which is more like beach sand; and at the other end of the spectrum you will find fine grinds, which can be moderately fine like table salt, or very fine like flour.
The way this affects your coffee is in how likely you are to under-extract or over-extract the flavor from your beans. If you under extract, you will have less flavor and your coffee may taste sour, salty or acidic. If you over extract, you will overwhelm the cup and the coffee will end up tasting a bit bitter.
How Brew Times and Coffee Grinds Impact Espresso Flavor
The longer you brew, the more flavor you will extract, so brewing for too short of a time is likely to result in under-extracted coffee, while going too long means over-extraction.
Coarse grinds are much more stubborn about giving up their flavor, whereas finer grinds allow you to extract their flavor very quickly.
These facts should make it apparent which is better for espresso. With espresso, the brewing time is very short, you are immediately pulling the water through the grounds to produce your coffee. Therefore, you will want very fine grounds so that you can extract as much flavor as possible in a short time, especially since espresso is supposed to be very flavorful. If you are making your own espresso, be sure to use a fine coffee grind.
Come visit The Exotic Bean and this space frequently to learn more about different brewing methods and their corresponding grinds in this special series of blog articles.