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What is your Espresso Recipe?

In coffee appreciation classes, one of the coffee brewing techniques we showcase is espresso.

Common questions arise "What is your recipe?", "We use the same machine", "I tried it and didn't get the same tasting notes", etc.

Experimenting with your coffee recipe from scratch

At chain coffee shops, the formulas for coffee shots are understandably fixed across baristas to provide as much consistency as possible for customers.

For the home barista, imagine you're a coffee scientist, on a journey to find the best tasting espresso for yourself. You would hold all other coffee parameters the same while changing just one to see how it affects your coffee tasting notes and texture. 

Always take notes, record your method and any experiments you make.

Equipment:

  1. scale that reads 0.1gram
  2. fresh coffee
  3. espresso grinder

Brewing Ratios

Ratio of Weight of coffee grinds used : Weight of shot pulled

We recommend that the home barista not get fixated on following recipes, but start out from the 1:2 in-out ratio and adjusting according to your preferences. 

Try pulling between 1.5-2 times the dose, in 20s-30s. You can experiment between 15s to 45s, and if you pull longer shots with our coffee around 60s, you can let us know how they go.

Adjusting the brew ratio changes he intensity of the flavours.

Underextraction  Decrease brew ratio, use more water to increase extraction
Overextraction  Increase brew ratio, use less water to decrease extraction

 

Observing Flow Colour

With practice and with the same roasted coffee, you will be able to identify the shot extraction by colour and stop it before it becomes too pale.

Coffee Doses

Manufacturer define the filter baskets by grams (weight). As different coffee has different densities, you may find that the same weight but different blend occurs a different volume in your basket.

Take note of the allowable dosage for your basket, don't underfill it or overfill it. There are single, double, and triple baskets for different doses.

After tamping, ensure that the coffee does not scrap your shower screen after inserting the portafilter into your grouphead. If it does, you have overfilled your basket.

After extraction, and you notice an indent in your puck, you have probably overfilled your basket as well.

Weather effect on extraction

While this may not affect countries around the equator as much, humidity does affect your coffee grounds. Grinds which have absorbed water from the air will be harder to penetrate and will need to be ground finer. 

As such, it is always important to store your coffee in an air tight container or even better a package with a one way valve.

Balance between sweet, acidity and roast versus flavours

Identify the sweet, bitter, ripeness and caramels. If you do not like the flavours, perhaps try another roast level, blend or single origin.

If the shot is to bland, sour or bitter, you can adjust by increasing or decreasing the dose or grind size.

Preinfusion timing

4 seconds starting point for timing for coffee flow from portafilter to cup
nothing after 10s too fine, water cannot flow through. grind coarser


A good shot will begin slowly, accelerating a little through extraction before slowing down.

Most people would include the preinfusion timing into the brewing time for the shot, so when making your notes, be sure to note down both.

Adjusting dosage & grind size

Bland?  Increase dose, coarsen grind

Reduce sugar masking flavours

Maintains acid/bitter balance

Acidic?  Dose stays the same, finer grind Slower shot, Ristretto

Reduce acidity relative to bitterness
Bitter?  Dose stays the same, coarser grind Faster shot, Lungo

Increases acidity relative to bitterness
Pungent? Decrease dose, finer grind Reduce flavours masking sugars

Maintains acid/bitter balance


Acidic notes: lemon, fruit, apple, wine etc
Acidic notes in lighter roasts: toasted bread, woody, lemon skin
Acidic notes in darker roasts: ribena, spices, tobacco, smoky pine sap, peat

Exceptions

While this is a general guide to help you achieve the best tasting Arabica coffee for yourself, it may not work with extremely pungent blends.

Besides the parameters above, your tamping technique, water used, maintenance of your espresso machine and other factors all come into play. If you are interested, you can read the many considerations made during judging the World Barista Championships here.

With that, happy brewing!


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