I walked into work the other morning and was promptly punched in the face by blueberries. Those of you familiar with various coffee origins know this can pretty much mean one thing: there's an Ethiopian in the mix. Or rather, as is the current case here at Souvenir, there's a single origin Ethiopian in the espresso grinder.
Perhaps you're wondering, "Huh, but how, Ms. Barista Person, do you go about making those blueberries punch me in the face?" Because you as a discerning coffee drinker are aware that delicious espresso is not a thing that just happens, like headphones knotting themselves into inexplicable, inextricable messes of sadness and frustration. No no, it takes quite a bit.
That quite a bit includes proper grind, dosage, tamping and brewing. So let's pull a shot together.
Where you are now: standing, stoic, gazing downward at a sprightly little machine that has two button eyes, a hat full of beans, and two arrows pointing in opposite directions reading 'fine' and 'coarse.'
Finding the proper grind setting for a specific espresso can be tedious. Too fine? Your shot's going to be over-extracted. This means it'll taste bitter and hollow, but somehow linger like that guy who won't leave the party at the back of your mouth. Too course? It'll be under-extracted. Prepare for brow furrowing, lip-puckering, and a quick intake of panic breath because it's going to be incredibly sour. And if this wasn't implied already, it'll be gross. As a general rule, beans used for espresso are ground much more finely than those used for batch, or pour over, or French press. So set the grinder to pretty dang fine.
Where you are now: satisfied with the grind adjustments you fiddled with for far too long, you've snatched the portafilter from the grouphead and set it under the grinder.
In preparation for this post we'd been brain-farting around the shop all week referring to the amount of espresso per-pull as the 'grammage'; a non-word I'm happy to report is incorrect because it sounds, to me, more like a way to describe a ridiculously awesome grandma. Like, "Sweet switch heelflip Grandma! Kirk, did you see that sick grammage?" Anyway the correct term is 'dose,' or 'dosage.' Why weigh it though? It's another measurable way of controlling and manipulating the flavor profile. Our weight, for the Ethiopian, sits at 19.8. We weigh each shot individually to make sure you're getting superb espresso every time.
Where you are now: holding a silver tool that looks more like a tiny plunger than you're willing to admit out loud. But you're...you're thinkin' it.
Time to tamp. You want to evenly apply thirty pounds of pressure from the tamp to the portafilter now filled with delicious, evenly distributed single origin espresso. The idea is to pass the heated water through the grounds to extract all the oils as efficiently as possible. Too hard or too soft a tamp will negatively affect the pull of the shot.
And where you are finally: you've locked the portafilter back into the grouphead, and you're ready to pull your shot.
You want to have a timer handy. Good espresso shots generally fall within the 25-32 second range, but the subjectivity window of that standard is something that's been hotly contested on many a forum by many a wax-mustached or straight across banged barista. And by other people too, of course. What you're ultimately going for is a 2oz espresso shot topped off with a creamy layer of crema that tastes, in our case, like a field full of blueberries being tilled by a magical fruit fairy. If not, repeat the process and make adjustments accordingly. Or come let us do it for you.