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The Perfect Espresso: What You’ll Need And How To Pull It Off



Cup of Espresso

If you want to pull that perfect espresso shot every single time, you need the right tools for the job, along with the right approach. Not sure where to get started? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. Follow these simple tips for a quality shot every time:

Preheat Your Machine

The first step is preheating your espresso maker, along with the portafilter and cup, by pulling your “blank” shot. Basically, you run water through your portafilter and cup but without using any espresso. How long it will take to heat up depends on your machine, but you’re usually looking at around 15 to 30 minutes.

Grind Your Beans

It’s crucial to have a quality grinder and if you don’t have one yet, is a great resource. As everyone knows, the key to a great shot is grinding the coffee beans whole right before you brew. That’s because the texture of your grind is crucial to the quality of the shot. If the grind is too fine, it will lead to a slow shot that has been over-extracted and can burn and taste bitter. But if the grind is too coarse it will be under extracted, sour, and weak.

You want to go for a texture that looks like granulated sugar. It will take some experimenting with your grinder and the espresso machine to figure out exactly how you like it, so be patient.

Figure Out Your Dose

The “dose” of espresso is how much coffee you want in your portafilter in order to determine the strength of your shot. The most popular dose for a double shot is somewhere between 14 and 18 grams. Again, you have to get to know your tools and your preferences, so don’t be afraid of a little bit of experimenting to get it just right.

Tamp It Down

Tamping down the grounds is important because you want to make sure that the extraction is uniform. You have to level and pack the grounds, ensuring that the water contact is equal and consistent while it’s forcing its way through the grounds. To tamp properly, apply pressure until the grounds look even and smooth. If your grounds are coarser, you will need to tamp more firmly than with finer grounds. If the shot is being released unevenly from the two spouts, it’s a sign that your tamp was not even.

Ready To Brew

Insert the portafilter into the brew head of your espresso maker and now you’re ready to place that pre-heated cup underneath. Before you initiate the pull, get a timer ready so you can time how long the pull is. Remember that experimenting is part of the process! Timing your shot is important because you’ll need to figure out what’s working for you and if you have to make any adjustments.

The Verdict

If all the elements come together, the brew should start out dark and then turn into a foamy, light brown stream that doesn’t break. You want to have a beautiful golden foam resting above the dark brew. Fold this in right before taking a drink. Since a shot is 1 ounce, you can stop the pull once the volume of water in your double shot has reached 2 ounces. Now it’s time to look at the timer. Ideally, your brew should take between 20 and 30 seconds. If it was outside this range you will want to adjust something (the grind, dose or tamp) and try again.

Enjoy your espresso and then try again next time. You will need to learn your machine, your preferences, and your techniques in order to really become an expert. But that’s all part of the fun and pleasure of being an espresso lover. After some practice, you will be able to use these tips to have a properly pulled shot every single time. Enjoy!

Trent Carter is looking to keep the tradition of T&A alive and well in today's politically correct world with his popular Thong Battle features, among other things. He also covers even racier topics on our sister site, which is definitely not safe for work!

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