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The Basic Espresso Recipe

The basic fundamental behind coffee is that only roughly 30% of coffee is water-soluble. Out of this 30%, only about 20% are actually desirable and tastes good. The goal behind every coffee professional is or should be to extract as much of these good and delicious parts of the coffee whilst minimizing the extraction of the undesirable parts of the coffee. Now that we know that we should all...

The basic fundamental behind coffee is that only roughly 30% of coffee is water-soluble. Out of this 30%, only about 20% are actually desirable and tastes good. The goal behind every coffee professional is or should be to extract as much of these good and delicious parts of the coffee whilst minimizing the extraction of the undesirable parts of the coffee.

Now that we know that we should all be using weight to measure our variables, let's take a look at how to set our variables in Espresso Brewing. There are many variables that contribute to making coffee. However, the three major variables that need to be tackled first for any form of consistency is our Dose, Yield and Grind size. Some people may include time as a variable, however we believe that time is a consequence and reflection of how the other variables interact with each other instead of a variable that should be controlled to change our coffee.



Here's a quick 2min video to summarise all that lengthy text we are going to talk about below:





STEP 1 (Fixing the Dose) : How much coffee should I use?

The amount of coffee that we use, otherwise known as dose, should be proportional to how strong we want our coffee. The more coffee we use, the stronger and more intense the coffee will be. Likewise, the less coffee we use, the less concentrated and intense the coffee will be.
It's just like Milo, when we want a really concentrated and sweet milo, we use more Milo powder in our drink and for those who prefer a more diluted version, they use less of the Milo powder.

Dose should NOT be used as a fix for your brewing problems. Changing the dose affects many other variables such as puck/coffee bed resistance, pressure changes, flow rate and liquid retention just to name a few. once the dose is set, it should be kept that way to ensure consistency across all our shots.



STEP 2 (Setting the Yield) : How much water or espresso liquid should I aim for?

Similar to the Dose, the amount of water we use or the resulting liquid espresso obtained in the cup (yield) should be proportional to how strong we want our coffee. The more water we use, the weaker and more diluted the coffee will be. Likewise, the less water we use, the more concentrated and heavy the coffee will be.

Traditionally in italian espresso, a drink was defined by their brew ratios. Therefore, an Espresso normally had a 1:2 brew ratio. This means that for every 1g of coffee used, there would be 2g of liquid espresso obtained in the cup. For Ristrettos, they normally had a 1:1 brew ratio, yielding 1g of liquid espresso for every 1g of coffee used. Last but not least, the Lungos have a 1:3 brew ratio, resulting in 3g of liquid espresso for every 1g of coffee brewed.

You are of course welcome to set the brew ratio to whatever suits your taste preference best with lower brew ratios being stronger, intense and heavier tasting and higher brew ratios being more mellow, clean and having more flavour clarity.

When making espressos, it is essential that you are using the correct portafilter basket size according to the dose that you are using. For eg. a 18g dose should be put in an 18g basket or at least a triple shot basket. Using an incorrect size basket does not allow for water to pass through in a regular and intended manner and changes the resistance against water flow which would result in different tasting espressos.



STEP 3 (Dialing in the Grind Size) : How fine/coarse should I grind my coffee?

As we mentioned earlier, only roughly 30% of coffee is water-soluble. Plus, only 20% out of this 30% if actually desirable. In order to dissolve and extract as much of the delicious solubles as possible, we need to grind the coffee so that we can reach and tap into the inner parts of the beans. You won't get very much out of the coffee if you just brew the whole bean on its own as water can't penetrate into the inner bean. Ergo, the finer you grind, the more of the bean you expose to water for it to dissolve and extract the delicious stuff. Hang on, that means that I should just grind at the finest setting right?

Not exactly, although we are able to extract more of the good stuff by grinding finer, don't forget that there are also those undesirable bad tasting solubles like extremely bitter excess caffeine and harsh acids. Grinding finer also exposes these undesirables just as much as the delicious goodies that we want to extract. As Mr Matt Perger explains it: "A finer grind won’t always extract more from the coffee. There comes a point where a finer grind will restrict the flow of water through the grinds so much that it will decrease extraction and strength. I call this ‘micro-channeling’, where clumps of superfine coffee come together and stay dry throughout the extraction."1

Therefore, what we want to do is find the ideal grind size that allows us to maximise extraction of the desirables and minimise extraction of the undesirables. How do we find this ideal grind size? You can refer to our quick chart below to guide you along the process of finding the ideal grind size :


Finding the Ideal Grind Size



Matt Perger does a great job talking about espresso recipes and improving extraction in this video : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BT7-yOUMDM

1 Comments

    • Avatar
      Espresso Machine Reviews
      Jul 21, 2017

      I am sure many people are interested to know about this espresso recipe. It was great to know it. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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