The obvious first step, but the most important. Finding the right coffee. So, how do you drink your coffee?
Milky drinkers, head toblends and look at blends with tasting notes that suit your fancy. Blends are also great for black espresso fans with more of a penchant for stronger, fuller-bodied espresso.
Black coffee drinkers who are keen to dive a little deeper and explore the different flavours of coffee from around the world, have a peek at the single origins.We showcase around 3 new origins here per month, which means non-stop exploration for the more adventurous espresso fanatic.
Step 2. Use a recipe
Check out the recipe for the coffee you have chosen (you’ll find them here). Let’s dive into how to read these.
We write our recipes as: dose of dry coffee in grams (in), the yield of espresso double shot, in grams (out). And how long the brew takes from when the button is pressed (time).
The ratio of dose to yield will have a big impact on how the coffee tastes. This ratio is sort of scalable. If you had a recommended recipe of 20g (in), 40g (out), but your handle can only fit 15g, try scaling the ratio down to account for this, so aim for 15g dose, 30g yield. Might need to pull out a calculator and get a bit nerdy...
Each coffee will have a unique recipe to get the most/best out of it. You can be super accurate and get repeatable results if you have some small scales.
If your coffee doesn’t have a recipe, a starting point could be dose to yield ratio of 1:2 (20g in, 40g out) for a blend or darker roast. A dose-to-yield ratio of 1:2.75, (20g in, 55g out) will work as a starting point for an origin or lighter roast of coffee.
To change the shot time, you will need to grind the coffee finer or coarser. Finer will slow the flow of water through the coffee while a coarser grind will allow the flow of water to speed up. Time is a useful fine-tune adjustment to nail the best espresso. The shot time is measured when the button is pressed, not when coffee flows from the spouts. Some machines have in-built shot timers.
Step 3. Consistency consistency consistency!
A great way to make better espresso is to be as consistent as possible with the way we dose, settle and tamp the coffee. Spending some extra time here, making sure the coffee has been evenly distributed in the basket, tamping with precision and flat to eliminate low or high points or areas of more compacted coffee, will promote an even extraction.
An even extraction is repeatable and will allow you to get more out of each shot.
Step 4. Clean your shi… stuff
Often overlooked as something that can make your coffee taste better, cleaning has a huge impact on flavour.
Make sure to clean the group head of the machine, the handle and basket, and the tamp base. Basically, everything that comes in contact with coffee will need a quick clean. Espresso machine cleaning powder will make this job easy, and it's one of the easiest ways to make your coffee taste much better.
The last bit of cleaning is the grinder. It can be tempting to bust open a fresh bag of coffee and tip it straight into the grinder but give the hopper a quick wipe-down before doing this. Giving the burrs a quick brush or vacuum will also help. The more frequently you can do this, the less likely it is for the grinder to get an oily build-up which can make coffee taste dank and musty… not a tasting note we want in espresso.
Step 5. Check the espresso machine manufactures instructions.
Although sometimes not as helpful with the recipe and dial-in-based instructions, having a look at the manufacturer's instructions or videos will help with adjusting settings. Adjusting settings will be essential to play with recipes. There will likely be cleaning instructions as well, which can vary from machine to machine.
Step 6. Supercafes = super advice.
The best coffee comes from cafes, which includes whole bean coffee to brew at home. Who better to ask for advice with dialling in, than the people who work with it all day. Ask your local barista for some tips dialling in your fresh beans you just got your hands on; they will likely have a recipe and more insight and information on your new beans. They probably brew at home too.
Cookie heads up! If we could we'd call 'em biccies & we'd be dunking 'em in coffee, but sadly these bad boys are virtual & non-edible.