Making the Perfect Shot of Espresso

Photo, Jason Betz.


Making the Perfect Shot of Espresso

Take your coffee to new heights, discover what leading baristas say about the fine art of making the perfect shot of espresso...

Millions of people all over the world start their day with a cup of warm coffee; for many, this is a ritual they can not even imagine not having as part of their everyday life. After all, this dark liquid is the perfect way to enter your day energised and ready to tackle professional and personal obligations.

What Baristas Say About Making a Perfect Shot of Espresso

Photo, Nathan Dumlao.

However, making a perfect cup of coffee can, in certain situations, resemble art. It certainly requires knowledge and technique. In those high-end bars and coffee shops, known for their excellent espressos, baristas are going through a trial before they are allowed to make this drink for customers.

So, if you want to know how to make a perfect shot of espresso, these are some of the basics you need to understand, according to baristas.

The Right Equipment: Before you even start, you need all the necessary equipment to make the perfect cup of coffee, such as an espresso machine and grinder. As evident on the Majesty Coffee site, numerous brands and machinery types will lead you to this. The newer models are highly efficient and precise in delivering exactly what your taste buds desire.

Also, we mustn’t forget about the ingredients, coffee beans and water being the only ones. To have a high-quality drink, you need to be very careful about the types of beans you use. There is a wide variety of them on the market, but not all of them come with the same taste and price. It goes without saying that you will have to pay a higher price if you want to best. Make sure you do the proper research online and find the brand that fits your budget.

Don’t forget about the quality of the water you use as well. If the water is not of a high standard, it can significantly alter the taste of your espresso. Not to mention it can damage your machine in the long run. You need to take care of the device if you want it to last you for a longer time. Before you make your perfect cup, you need to ensure the machine is preheated. A so-called black shot is also a good idea.

Fresh Grind: For the premium shot of espresso, freshly ground coffee beans are absolutely necessary. No matter what brewing method you use, make sure you grind the beans just before you make yourself a shot. Grinding is one of the crucial steps, given the fact that it affects the final taste of your coffee. If you end up with too fine of a grind, the cup you serve might be too bitter. On the other hand, if too coarse, it can be of bland, sour, and too watery taste.

The coffee connoisseurs will tell you that the perfect grind is similar to those of granulated sugar. However, you also need to consider the machine you have and how it works, as well as your personal preferences.

What Baristas Say About Making a Perfect Shot of Espresso

Photo, Tabitha Turner.

The Appropriate Dose: What you find appropriate depends on, again, your taste and the machine you’re working with. Some portafilters are smaller, some larger, but it also depends on how much of this stay drink you want. Most people order a double shot of espresso, and for a cup of that size, you usually need somewhere between 14 and 18 grams of finely ground coffee. However, when you buy a machine, you will probably not get the cup you wanted on the first go. You will need to take it for a test drive a couple of times before getting that perfect dose.

What Baristas Say About Making a Perfect Shot of Espresso

Photo, Tyler Nix.

The Tamping Process: Tamping is another important step of this process as it ensures you get the best of the coffee beans you use. Basically, the espresso grounds need to be neatly packed in the basket of an espresso machine for this to happen. Tampers are tools that will ensure this happens. By doing this, tampers will also make it possible for water to have equal and constant contact. When it comes to the proper tamping method, things need to be done in a certain way. First of all, you need to hold your elbow at 90 degrees while your portafilter rests on a levelled surface. Then you apply equal pressure and make the coffee as even as possible. Keep in mind that depending on the coffee ground type, you might need a firmer tamper.

The Brewing and Timing: Once all of this is done, it’s time to start brewing your perfect cup of espresso. For this to happen the way it’s supposed to, the water needs to be at the ideal temperature. When it comes to espresso, the temperature needs to be somewhere between 195 F and 205 F (or 90C and 96C) to get the best possible drink. When the machine starts working on delivering your perfect shot, it will begin to drip slowly and then develop into a steady and even stream. One thing you need to really pay attention to is the brewing time. If your machine has no timer, simply use the stopwatch on your phone. Baristas say that this process should last somewhere between 20 and 30 seconds. Another sign that your shot is ready is it starts to thicken and begins to turn yellow.

Some people like to steer the coffee before taking a sip, while others prefer to drink it immediately as the intensity of the flavor is at its highest moment. What you do in this case is entirely up to you. Also, some might add milk, given the fact that espresso, especially the short one, is a very strong drink. However, any other ingredient besides coffee and water will definitely alter the taste and make it more muted.

If you’re thinking about buying an espresso machine for your home, but you never worked with one, these are the most important steps you need to take to ensure you end up with the perfect cup of coffee. These are tips from baristas all over the world. Your perfect espresso shot depends on your personal taste, so don’t be afraid to play around.