As a nation, we've embraced coffee shop culture as a major part of our lives over the last few years. The extortionate costs of that daily macchiato on the commute, or the lunchtime latte soon add up however. The great news is that you don't have to stop one of life's little pleasure; simply become your own barista with the help of Coffee-Direct.co.uk! Not only will you save a small fortune, but you'll also be able to choose from over 100 varieties from around the globe, and experience freshly roasted coffee beans in either whole bean form to be ground at home, or pre-ground to your requirements.
We've put together this handy guide to help you brew your favourite coffee like a pro. By following a few simple tips and techniques, you can put those Starbrews and Costly Coffee baristas to shame!
General Tips for a Good Espresso Shot
Firstly make sure your machine is up to the correct pressure of 1 bar and that the pump pressure is at 9 bar.
Always leave the portafilter in the grouphead so that it is hot.
Make sure all equipment is clean and that the grouphead is regularly backwashed with cleaner.
Having the correct grind for your machine is absolutely critical. If the grind is wrong you will never make a great cup of coffee.
If possible, always use freshly ground coffee.
Make sure that you are using the correct weight of coffee for the size of portafilter you are using - approx. 7 gm for a single and 14 gm for a double (this can vary with different sized baskets).
Always remember to tamp the coffee in the portafilter.
Check that when you make an espresso it takes between 18-23 seconds to brew the shot. Then check that you have a good crema and that it is neither too pale or too dark in colour. A single shot of espresso is about 1 1/2 fluid ounces. If the coffee brews too quickly then the grind needs to be slightly finer, too slow and the grind is too fine. Adjust the grinder accordingly then brew another shot of espresso to check how it pours. Ultimately the flavour of the espresso is more important than having an exact brew time. If it looks right and tastes right then it is right!
If you can make a good shot of espresso then you are half way to making a great cup of coffee.
This is 1/3 espresso, 1/3 hot milk, 1/3 foam.
Having the correct amount of milk in the frothing jug is very important. Too much and it will spill over the top when frothing, too little and it will get too hot too fast and you will not be able to control what is happening to the milk. Use a good quality stainless steel jug which is smaller at the top than the bottom. only add enough milk to fill about 1/4 of the jug.
Froth the milk first and then make the shot of espresso.
To froth the milk first purge any water from the steam arm. Tilt the jug at a 45 degree angle and then introduce the steam arm into the milk keeping the holes just under the surface of the milk, now open the steam arm so that the steam enters the milk.The milk will start to get hot and swirl around in the jug. As the milk rises up in the jug the jug should be lowered to ensure the holes of the steam arm are always only just under the surface of the milk. Keep one hand on the side of the jug whilst heating the milk to check how hot the milk is getting. Once you have at least doubled the volume of milk and the jug is too hot to keep your hand on it, move the end of the steam arm into the base of the jug and swirl the jug around a few times then turn off the steam. You should now have equal quantities of foam on top and hot milk underneath. Now brew your espresso shot(s) and carefully add hot milk and foam in the proportions previously mentioned to make the drink. Chocolate sprinkles may be added if required. You can use a thermometer to measure the milk temperature if you like.
Use the same quantity of coffee as in a cappuccino but then add lots of hot milk and a little bit of foam. You start with the same amount of milk in the jug and tilt at 45 degrees but this time start with the holes of the steam arm at the bottom of the milk. Open the steam arm and keep the holes at the bottom of the milk until the jug is too hot to hold then at the last minute bring the holes to the surface of the milk to create some foam. With the holes at the bottom of, the milk you will not create any foam instead you will just be heating the milk. Now make your shot of espresso and put into a tall latte glass, add the hot milk almost to the top of the glass then finish with a small layer of foam.
This is a black coffee usually made with a double shot of espresso and hot water. Always add the hot water to the cup first and then brew the espresso shots into the water, this way you will retain some of the crema from the espresso.
This is a shot of espresso "marked" with a small amount of foamed milk and served in an espresso cup.
The same amount of milk in the jug as for Cappuccino and Latte but the frothing is different. The steam arm needs to be constantly moved from top to bottom whilst you are heating the milk, this will ensure that you get no separation between hot milk and foam instead you should end up with textured milk which has the pouring consistency of thick cream. This milk can then be added to the espresso shot(s).
We believe if you want to add sugar to your coffee then it should always be white sugar as brown sugar has too much "flavour" of its own.
Milk should always be as cold as possible prior to frothing.
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