That is why I want to talk about the basics of how to extract great espresso at home (without getting frustrated). In the following, I provide a quick guide to how to set up your 'coffee corner' at home, covering what I believe are some essential items and knowledge to get your home brewing to cafe standard.
Before you go out and spend all of your savings, it’s important to know the difference between the two main types of espresso machines: the single circuit system and the dual circuit system.
This temperature change will take a couple of minutes and will only produce a very limited amount of steam. Another downfall for the latte lovers is that the pressure of the steam is quite minimal and might dilute the milk. However, if you are interested in making a solid espresso, this machine will be perfect for you.
The boiler is much bigger that the one in the single circuit machine (usually more than 1 litre), and is able to constantly produce steam. You will have a separate manometer for your steam pressure that shows 1.2 bar for your steam and 9/10 bar for the group head. With this machine you can simultaneously pull espresso shots and steam milk, which is perfect if you want to create some beautiful milk beverages. We sell some two-circuit models from ECM, like Technika V or Mechanika V Slim and have exhibited them in our showroom in Berlin Mitte.
This doesn’t mean that you need to buy the most expensive machine available. Remember, you also need to calculate other purchases, such as a espresso grinder and extra equipment like a tamper, a tamping mat, a knockbox, barista cloths and milk jugs.
When shopping around for a machine, I would recommend checking the materials used in the machine. What material is the boiler made of? Anything with aluminium is much cheaper, but also a no go because it corrodes and can be harmful to your health. I would go for stainless steel boilers as they are durable and high performing - but of course, they’re also more expensive.
You should bring your machine for a small maintenance to a workshop once per year, and every 5 years it needs a big service.
In any way, you have to use filtered water.
I suggest a filtering system like the ones BWT are offering, otherwise some people use bottled water but that is just wildly unsustainable.
Coffee reacts very aggressively with oxygen. When we grind coffee, we produce billions of little particles that then react with the surrounding air. This happens so fast, that you will measurably lose aroma and flavour after the first 3 minutes after grinding. Your coffee will taste stale and will not reveal its full potential.
Blade grinders are more like blenders, they crush the coffee and create a quite inconsistent particle size. This is absolutely ok if you want to make filter coffee, but for espresso we definitely need a very fine and even particle size.
In grinders with a conical grinder, the coffee beans are crushed between the inner cone and the outer wall. The distance between the cone and the wall becomes smaller and smaller, so that the beans are ground more and more finely. The degree of grinding can be changed via the distance between the cone and the wall. In contrast to a disc grinder, the grist is not carried to the side, but rather falls down - and into a collecting container. For this reason, the speed of a conical grinder is lower and the coffee is ground very gently.
With a steel grinder, you are going to get a cup that tastes and feels clean in your mouth. Because of the precision you can expect with a steel blade, you'll be looking forward to coffee that is brewed exactly how you like it regardless of what brewing method you use. That said, steel grinders, both automatic and manual, work especially well with alternative brewing methods such as pour-over and French press. They are also preferred for single-source, non-espresso beans.
That said, steel grinders, both automatic and manual, work especially well with alternative brewing methods such as pour-over and French press. They are also preferred for single-source, non-espresso beans.
First, their high-strength blades are especially long-lasting. They start off less sharp than a steel blade; however they will retain their original sharpness almost indefinitely. But, ceramic will not stand up so well against bigger impacts. So if it stays on your counter, it'll last you a long time- just don’t drop it or put anything too strange in your grinder. Also, some coffee-connoisseurs like to claim that because ceramic does not conduct heat, you won't have to worry about the temperature affecting the oils in your coffee. However, aside from a few vehement palates, there is little to no evidence to back this up. While heat conduction might be irrelevant, the fact that ceramic does not rust or otherwise deteriorate when exposed to warm environments or moisture can be a considerable plus. These kind of burrs are mainly used in manual grinders.
In my experience a solid espresso grinder doesn't cost less than 400 Euros. There are exceptions of course, for example hand grinders that are very durable but they also cost about 230 Euros and obviously you have to manually grind each dose.
If you do not weigh your coffee, you will never get the same result twice and you can not dial in your coffee and changing grind size will not make any sense.
Let's use the following recipe as our go to recipe:
18g in the basket
25 second extraction time
Without a scale I can not check any of this. Because the extraction time depends not just on the grind size but also on the amount of coffee that we use. If I use 18g and my extraction time is only 15 seconds, I will have to change my grind size to a finer grind setting. If my coffee with 18g is running 45 seconds for 38g out, I will have to use a coarser grind setting.
To make life a little bit easier with handling the output weight, I think for at home it is definitely ok to use a shotglas with a mark so you know roughly if it's enough.
But what is very important to know: there is NO SUCH THING as a beverage called CAFE CREMA! This is simply an invention for full automatic machines and does not work for espresso machines.
A tampermatt will help you to keep your kitchen bench protected.
Microfiber cloths are a perfect and sustainable solution to keep your machine and portafilter clean and can be washed at 90 degrees, perfect to get rid of any milk germs. They are also a good tool to clean the portafilter instead of using a brush as the cloth cleans the basket and dries it at the same time.
A knock box should be appropriate for the amount of coffee waste that you will be producing, to save space, I recommend a draw that fits underneath the grinder. This way you can also just swipe the coffee that might have sprayed into the draw with a…
Grinder brush. This tool helps you to keep your grinding area clean.
If you are into Milk and Latte art, there are so many different companies nowadays that specialize in making the best latte art jug. Just keep in mind, you are making the patterns, not the jug.
Once you have all your equipment sorted, and you weigh your coffee, you will get way more consistent results.
If you want to know more about how to store your coffee, check out my article about aging coffee and if you want to know more about dialling in, read my article “how to dial in coffee”
I hope you found this helpful and if you have any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to message me via the contact form.