Espresso Coffee Guide

Basics of Espresso Coffee

Simply put, espresso is coffee that is made by forcing pressurized water through finely ground coffee beans. But this revolutionary process is the culmination of a long chain of technological developments that has changed how the world regards this delectable beverage.

History of espresso makers and machines

Luigi Bezzera was responsible in making the 1st espresso machine when he experimented on creating a quicker brewing process. In the history of espresso you will find out he discovered that using steam and pressure made a brew of depth, concentration, body and flavor. Later in the century Achille Gaggia began to manufacture espresso machines that used piston pumps which enabled hot (not boiling) water to be used in brewing espresso. It eliminated the bitter and burnt taste that results from over extraction. This innovation in technology created modern espresso shots with crema, a sweet and light foam that has become one of the hallmarks of expertly made espresso.

Coffee enthusiasts around the world have varying ways for how to make espresso. However, the basics do not change at all. Italians call it the 4 M’s, the four essential things that could affect your preparation methods towards a better brew.

The First M in espresso preparation

First is La Machina or the the machine, the equipment used should be able to deliver highly pressurized water that is not dependent on heat. The use of boiling water could make an acerbic bitter brew. The popularity of espresso has pushed manufacturers to make gadgets that enable the general public to make espresso at home. This need has created the moka pot which uses heat to boil and pressurize water and forces it between ground coffee. Another is the French press which is the gadget more discriminating coffee drinkers use. The brewer immerses ground coffee in hot water and manually tamps out the bean leaving the liquid on top.

Blend in the Second M

Second is La Miscela or the blend, many bean roasters subscribe to the belief that a single type of bean cannot have all the properties to make a great cup of espresso. Central American coffee beans are sharp and more aromatic. Indonesian beans have body and more sweetness. Ethiopian beans have an earthy flavor and Yemeni beans have a spicy bite. It takes skill and experience to be able to choose the percentage of each type of bean to be added to a good blend. Many renowned coffee enthusiasts have a closely guarded unique mix that they believe delivers the best cup.

Get the Third M right

The third M is Macinazione or the grind. The process of coffee bean grinding is important and could be a little complicated since there is no hard and fast rule for the size of grind. The brewer should determine what size the particles should be while considering other factors that could influence taste. A  fine grind is used in electric espresso machines and a uniform coarse grind for is ideal the french press.

The Fourth M lies in your hands

The last M is La Mano or the hand that brews the cup. Even with coffee shops that have automatic machines a good barista is still required for the small details that enhance a cup of espresso. This includes choosing the perfect blend, tamping the coffee beans correctly, pre-heating the cup, keeping the equipment spotless to avoid any contamination and choosing the proper grind. ?

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