Knowing how to make a perfectly good espresso shot properly is a must for any starting coffee shop. If you’re starting to learn your ways around coffee, you probably have a ton of questions. Did you ever wonder how long to pull an espresso? Espresso is recognized for its robust and rich flavor and aroma and is often used as a base for several popular coffee drinks such as cappuccino, latte, and macchiato.
Dating back to the 19th century, the very first espresso machine that gave birth to our beloved drink was developed in Europe. Born in the period when coffee and cafes were booming, espresso later became one of the most versatile drinks in the coffee industry.
Coffee vs. Espresso
For any coffee enthusiasts, it may be quite frustrating to hear someone use the terms coffee and espresso interchangeably. Coffee and espresso are two different types of drinks. To put it simply, an espresso is loosely defined as a concentrated form of coffee. However, there are notable differences, particularly in the brewing method, machine used, and caffeine content.
- Developed in Ethiopia and Yemen
- Created by simply placing coffee beans or ground into a filter and be automatically brewed by a coffee machine
- Contains roughly 80 – 185mg of caffeine for an 8oz cup
- Can be ground using different sizes of coffee ground
- Developed in Europe
- An espresso shot is pulled by running the coffee grounds through hot water at extremely high pressure and speed.
- Requires an espresso machine
- Contains 40-75mg of caffeine for a 1-ounce serving
- Needs a finely-ground coffee
Single-shot vs. Double Shot Espresso
The product of an espresso brew is called shot simply because its yield is so minimal that it usually fits within a shot glass. An espresso shot can be either a solo, doppio, or even a triplo, each one having more output and using more coffee ground than the latter (7g, 14g, and 21g, respectively). We don’t often hear about the triplo because it is typically used in larger drink milky beverages to make sure that the coffee taste doesn’t get overpowered by the other ingredients. Usually, baristas use a single shot or double shot of espresso for their mixes, but most prefer the doppio.
How Long To Pull an Espresso?
Learning how to pull the perfect shot of espresso is a must for any budding barista. The espresso serves as the heart of numerous all-time favorite drinks and would ultimately be the measure if your mix would be good, mediocre, or all in all bad. Furthermore, knowing how a great espresso looks, feels and tastes like is a skill you should have, so you’ll see when you finally get there.
- Put the proper dose of freshly ground coffee into your espresso machine’s portafilter handle. Make sure to use the right doses so that you don’t go under- or over-extract your shot. The dose would depend on your basket volume. Typically, a double portafilter basket would fit 18g to 25g of ground coffee.
- Evenly distribute the grounds by gently tapping the portafilter handle or use a distribution tool if you have one.
- Tamping is used to avoid any form of air pocket and to keep the grounds at an even level. Put enough pressure to compress the coffee grounds adequately. Spinning the tamper on will ensure that the surface is smooth and flat.
- After ensuring that the espresso machine is clean, insert the portafilter handle into the group head to finally start brewing the espresso.
- Pulling the shot should only take 20-30 seconds. The espresso machine would automatically stop, or you have the option to stop the brewing process at your preferred time manually.
Things to remember
- Grind your beans just before brewing to keep its premium taste and aroma.
- Pre-ground beans lose these characteristics as time goes by.
- Clear your espresso machine of coffee oils that may have stuck inside and make your next batch develop an unnecessary taste. Ideally, always keep the device clean every after use.
- Immediately serve your brew so that it won’t lose some of its best taste.
The Perfect Espresso Shot
Completing the brewing process doesn’t automatically end with a perfectly good espresso shot. Even you try to follow the last bit every guide you find on the internet, espresso-making requires practice to develop the skill and the eye for the perfectly made shot of espresso.
These are some DON’T’s in cleaning your pot:
The “crema” of the Crop
The crema of an espresso shot is a thick layer of foam found on top of the shot. This layer of foam does not exactly affect the taste of the espresso but is often used to determine the quality of the shot. A good crema indicates a good espresso shot, while a bad crema would mean that the shot was either over or under-extracted.
- Good shot: has a thick crema with a reddish and golden color
- Over-extracted shot: has a thin crema with a deep brown or burnt color
- Under-extracted shot: has an extremely thin crema and an almost blonde white or nearly clear appearance
Consistency and resilience
- Good shot: smooth and rests on top of the espresso for roughly 2 minutes before mixing into the drink. Even if cut through with a spoon, the foam should spring back to its original form.
- Over-extracted shot: Cutting through the crema would ultimately ruin the foam.
- Under-extracted shot: Crema comes back to its original appearance but notably slower.
Pulled to Perfection
Brewing the perfect shot of espresso takes time, practice, patience, and skill. Aside from having the necessary equipment and a premium quality coffee ground, it is essential to have the technical know-how of espresso making. How much coffee ground to use? How long to pull an espresso? What makes a perfectly good shot of espresso? Knowing this will surely help you practice, develop, and ultimately perfect the art of making a quality shot of espresso with no fail. Find out more about espresso shots.