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Espresso 101


Espresso is a black, Italian style coffee that literally means "made on the spot for someone who orders it". It is distinguishable by the small, demitasse (3 oz) cup in which it is served. Over the years brewing espresso has certainly been made easier with the advancement of more automated and sophisticated machines. However, as this coffee is the basic ingredient of all the other coffee recipes, preparing the "perfect" cup of espresso is still an art that must be learned.

Use fresh coffee grind
As soon as the ground coffee comes in contact with air it starts to go bad. Believe me, there is a big differance between an espresso made from fresh grind and one made from coffee that has been lying around for an hour or two. Take the single filter holder and pack and tamp a single 7-8 gram dose of coffee for a single espresso

Extraction time
From the moment the barista pushes the "start button" on his espresso machine you should have between 20-27 seconds to pull out your wallet. It is much to often that you get served your "espresso" before you even have time to blink. Too fast means the coffee is too coarse, too long means it is too fine and the grinder should be adjusted to suit.

The perfect espresso needs one more parameter, the volume of coffee. More 3 cl can make the coffee loose some of its "body". Less than 3 cl and you have an caffe ristretto (which of course can be a wonderful, tastefull exprerience depending on the coffee blend and the skill of the barista). When the 20-27 seconds are up, you should have about 3 cl in your cup.

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Milk Frothing


You will need a stainless steel jug to froth milk. You may also want to use a milk frothing thermometer to help you obtain the correct temperature.The milk you use can make a big difference. You need to use full cream or semiskimmed milk, avoid skimmed milk. The brand, batch and time of year can also make a difference!

Fill the jug about one third full with COLD milk (the jug should also be cold or at room temperature). If necessary, prepare your espresso machine for producing steam. Run some steam for a few seconds into an empty cup or something similar (you may be able to direct the steam wand into the drip tray of the machine) just to empty any condensed water from the steam wand. Position the tip of the steam wand in the milk near the bottom (this prevents the milk from spattering at the start), and open the tap for the steam. Immediately move the tip of the steam wand to the surface of the milk because it needs to suck in a little air to produce the froth. This is the tricky bit. If you bring it too close to the surface you will start to get large bubbles and there is a risk of spattering milk everywhere - conversely if it is not close enough to the surface you will not draw in any air and you will not get any froth! Just a few millimetres can make all the difference. If you can create a whirlpool motion in the milk so much the better as this will mix the bubbles throughout the milk and result in an even texture throughout.

As the froth starts to build the level of the milk will rise (this stage is called "stretching" the milk). You must lower the jug as the milk level rises to keep the tip near the surface and continue drawing in some air. Keep going until you have introduced the amount of froth you want, or until the point where the bottom of the jug starts to get too hot to hold. Then move the tip of the steam wand very slowly and smoothly down into the milk towards the bottom of the jug. This will distribute the froth through the milk lower down and heats the milk to the final temperature you want to reach. Once you reach this point you should turn off the steam tap and remove the steam wand from the milk.

Release a small amount of steam into an empty cup or
something similar for a few seconds to empty any milk from the steam wand and wipe it clean with a damp cloth. The resulting frothed milk should be at about 70 to 72 degrees Centigrade (158 to 162 degrees Fahrenheit). If you are using a thermometer you will need to finish the
frothing process at a slightly lower temperature because the thermometer takes a moment to "catch up" with the actual temperature of the milk. Specialised milk frothing thermometers have a coloured band from about 60 to 70 degrees Centigrade (140 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit) so that you finish frothing when the needle enters the coloured band and by the time the thermometer has caught up it should be at the correct temperature at top end of the coloured band.

If you have some large bubbles on the surface of the milk you can bang the jug down onto the working surface. This will break the larger bubbles which are weaker than the smaller ones. You can then "work" the milk to achieve an even consistency throughout by slopping it from side to side (trying to keep it in the jug!) and gentlyswirling it. Finally pour the required amount of frothed milk onto your espresso.

Milk Frothing Guide



Making Perfect Coffee

Although great beans like ours are essential when striving for the perfect cup of coffee, the ingredients are only part of the process. It is essential that your staff are highly trained in the art of the barista. That is why we have our own coffee training school and also why we have provided helpful videos and manuals on this website.

All speciality coffee starts with espresso so we suggest you have a look at espresso 101. Once you have perfected your espresso pulling technique it's time to move onto the other important part of the drink - milk, so please also take the time to check out our handy milk frothing guide.

Coffee Recipes

Potent small strong black coffee

Espresso topped with 1/3 steamed milk, 1/3 frothed milk and a dusting of chocolate.

Café Latte
Espresso topped with velvety steamed milk and finished with a cap of frothed milk.

Café Mocha
Espresso mixed with chocolate sauce filled with steamed milk and finished with whipped cream.

Espresso con Panna
Espresso topped with whipped cream

Espresso served with hot water for a long black coffee

Espresso topped with a cap of foam

Half shot of Espress

Adjusting your Grinder

In order to get the best results from our coffee you may have to slightly adjust your coffee grinder.

It takes approximately 18-23 seconds (not including pre-infusion) to make the perfect espresso. A golden brown flow should trickle into your cup.

Under Extraction: If your coffee is coming out too fast your grind is too course. This will result in lifeless espresso with little flavour or crema. To remedy this adjust your grinder towards the fine setting.

Over Extraction: If your coffee is coming out too slow your grind is too fine. This will result in dark bitter drink. To remedy this adjust your grinder towards the course setting.