Portafilter Espresso Machine
The classic Italian espresso is prepared with a filter holder espresso machine.
Portafilter espresso machines exist in many different forms, our goal is to describe the espresso brewing process which is the same regardless of the machine in use.
Coffee for Portafilter Espresso
First choice for italian espresso are, of course, the italian espresso blends, perfectly roasted for this method of coffee preparation.
Nevertheless, single origins (Beans originating from a single estate, plantation or country) which have been roasted for this kind of coffee preparation are also very recommended, depending on your personal taste.
Grind Level for Portafilter Espresso
Finding the right grind for a perfect espresso shot is certainly one of the biggest challenges for the Barista.
Basically, the grind should be finer than for the moka pot, but not too fine either.
If the grind is too coarse the coffee is under extracted - the water flows too quickly through the coffee.
Is the grind too fine it "burns" the coffee and the espresso will be over extracted.
To make things even more complicated - other factors which affect the grind are: the freshness of the beans, the roast level and even the humidity.
Brew Ratio for Espresso
The Italian espresso Institute (Instituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano) indicates the perfect amount of coffee for one espresso with 7 g (+/-0, 5 g).
It has become quite common to depart from this amount and use up to 10g per Espresso (and more).
A rule of thumb
Coffee flows too quickly -> grind may be too coarse
Coffee flows too slowly or not at all-> grind may be too fine
Don't forget: Tamping pressure, type of coffee, waterpressure are all additional factors contributing to the perfect espresso.
Therefore the goal of every barista is not perfecting one of the components but to bring everything in perfect balance.
Espresso brewing with the portafilter espressomachine
The perfect espresso consists of a variety of components - starting with the quality and freshness of the beans, the equipment (Grinder, Portafilter Espressomachine) and finally the experience and skills of the barista.
To begin with, here the definition of a perfect espresso (Instito Nazionale Espresso Italiano):
- Coffee quantity: 7g +/- 0,5g
- Coffee outlet temperature: 88°C +/- 2°C
- Water pressure (on the coffee puck): 9bar +/- 1bar
- Extraction time: 25 Sekunden +/- 5 Sekunden
- Amount of liquid in the cup: 25ml +/- 2ml (sometimes 30ml)
We recommend that these details be regarded as a basic guideline - as already mentioned, it is quite common to use a higher amount of coffee, or customize the brewing temperature - just according to personal taste and type of coffee.
5. | Clamp the portafilter into the espresso machine and start the brewing process
The espresso cups should be pre-heated. Usually the espresso cups rest on top of the espresso machine which pre-heats the cups. If that is not the case, heat the cups by pouring hot water into them. This is important, as cold espresso cups will immediatly draw the heat from your espresso.
To get a feel for time and amount of coffee you can use Shot-glasses with markings and a stop watch.
Indications for the right Espresso Extraction
Under-extraction means that not enough flavour has been extracted.
Taste under extracted coffee is lacking body, tasting sour and lacking sweetness.
Visual very bright and thin crema.
Reasons for under-extractions:
- Grind level too coarse
- Not enough coffee
- Not enough tamping pressure
Over-extracting means, that too much of the flavours have been extracted.
Taste over extracted espresso tastes bitter and burned.
Visual very dark crema with almost black at the edge.
Reasons for over extraction:
- Grind level too fine
- Too much coffee in the portafilter
- Too much tamping pressure
Ideally extracted Espresso
All flavours are perfectly extracted and in balance.
Taste depending on the blend (Arabica/Robusta und Herkunft der Bohnen) the perfect espresso tastes sweet,clear and has a fine acidity.
Visual an even, solid hazelnut brown crema and occasionally the famous "tiger stripes".