Archive for the ‘Coffee Maker’ Category
Pressure is one of the most important variables when it comes to brewing flawless espresso; too much and the espresso will be too gritty, not enough and it will be watery. There are actually two facets to the pressure equation: tamp pressure and brewing pressure. Tamp pressure refers to how tightly the grounds are compacted in the portafilter of your coffee makers. A good starting point is 30 lbs of pressure, but you can obviously adjust this to your particular taste.
When it comes to the brewing pressure, you should shoot for about 8 to 9 BAR of pressure—about 135 PSI. Most machines have this built-in already, so you probably won’t have to worry about it. Some machines advertise that they can brew at higher pressures, but this really isn’t necessary and will not improve the quality of your espresso.
For the last several months I’ve been writing about the merits of various espresso machines, but it wasn’t until last week that I had the opportunity to experience espresso in its truest form for the first time. During a trip to Italy I discovered why the drink is so inextricably tied to the region—everyone there drinks it. I try to shy away from stereotypes, but in this instance, it’s true. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an energy drink—which have become ubiquitous in the US—anywhere in Italy, as all of the citizens are getting their caffeine fix from these miniature brews.
While cappuccino is the drink of choice in the early morning, when people are looking for something sweet, espresso is consumed throughout the day and night. Unlike coffee shops in the US, in Italy are fast-paced establishments. Once you order your espresso, you’re served at a standing bar, and if you spend more than twenty seconds over your cup, you’re dawdling
Ethiopia: Many legends trace the origins of the coffee tree to Ethiopia. The beans from this region have an incredibly rich, bold flavor, making them ideal for use in an espresso coffee maker.
Kenya: Unlike many countries, Kenya has its own grading system for beans to ensure quality. By using this grading system, you can learn the size of the bean and whether or not it was grown on an estate.
Ivory Coast: As one of the world’s leading producers of Robusta coffee, beans from the Ivory Coast typically aren’t considered gourmet and usually find there way into espresso blends.
If you’ve read this blog with any regularity, you know that Arabica beans are the gold standard of the coffee industry. But there are myriad other factors that affect the quality of the beans you put in your coffee maker, and many of them pertain to geography. The ideal is a tropical climate with rich soil at a high altitude, and even slight changes in precipitation, altitude or soil nutrients can vastly affect the final product.
Over the next few days, we will be highlighting some of the premier coffee growing locales around the globe. We’ll overview the different flavors associated with various regions and tell you what are the preferred blends. Tomorrow we’ll start off close to home with beans from North America and the Caribbean Islands.
Spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on an espresso machine may seem extravagant to some, but coffee connoisseurs can taste the difference. The quality of the coffee and other products you use can’t be overlooked, which is why they came first in the series. But the brewing process itself is the key to coffee, and premium coffee machines get the job done better, pure and simple.
Options from top tier manufacturers, such as a Saeco espresso machine, obviously come with a surfeit of peripheral features, but it’s the high quality brewing that makes these machines worth the price. Particularly during the highly pressurized espresso brewing process, it’s important that none of the ground be forced through the system and there is a proper concentration of coffee, which a premium machine accomplishes. The automatic settings on these machines allow you to customize every aspect of your experience, eliminating the guessing game.
With three children between the ages of 3 and 8, it seems like I only have about 3-4 hours of free time each week. On Thursday afternoons the kids go to visit their grandparents across town, and every week I consider it a personal challenge to see how much I can get done in that time. This is usually my only opportunity to relax and unwind so instead of doing chores or running errands, I dedicate the afternoon to pampering myself.
As I mentioned, time is always of the essence. I begin my flipping on my automatic espresso machine and then drawing myself a nice bath and lighting some aromatherapy candles. Then I run back to the kitchen, fix myself a cup of coffee, locate my book and crossword puzzle and head back to the tub. After a good soak, I usually head into town to have lunch with some of my girlfriends. And, if I’m lucky, I may be able to squeeze in a quick nap before my in-laws sic my children on me again.
From June through August I have a personal rule: No hot coffee. A couple of summers ago I tried to drink hot coffee during the summer, and it was a disaster. Since I drink about five cups a day, I was constantly sweating from the intense heat of the coffee. I probably should have realized the iced coffee solution immediately, but it took me the entire summer. Here’s one of my favorite iced coffee recipes for beating the heat:
~Brew some espresso in your espresso coffee maker and cool one shot.
~Mix the shot of espresso with 2-3 tsp. cocoa, ½ tbs. vanilla extract (the good stuff) and 1-cup of milk.
~Pour in a tall glass with ice. You can create a delicious coffee smoothie by simply putting the drink in a blender for a few seconds.
An expert operator of an espresso machine is a “barista,” the Italian word for a bartender. In Italy and other parts of Europe, a barista is considered a career position, often with specific skills and training passed down from generation to generation.
In other parts of the world, the job of a barista has been frequently seen as an employment choice for young people, mostly as a starting point in their career, but is not seen as a life career choice. As a result, many coffee shops have moved to fully automatic espresso machines which allow a minimally-trained employee to create an espresso drink by merely pushing a button.
Looking back on it now, the idea to combine hot milk and coffee seems apparent, but just 100 years ago this was a novel idea. The first cappuccino maker was actually an espresso machine, which was patented by Luigi Bezzera at the turn of the 20th century. Italy was the first country to serve the cappuccino, and it saw increasing popularity up until the 1940s.
In 1948, Gaggia introduced the modern, high-powered espresso machine that we know it today. This innovation made making cappuccinos easier and facilitated its proliferation around the globe. Particularly in Britain, where there had long been a tradition of drinking coffee with milk, the addition of heated milk and milk foam caught on quickly. Today cappuccinos are seen as a specialty beverage in many parts of the world, where they are usually enjoyed before noon.
Once you’ve achieve your preferred roast, your job’s not done yet. Like other foodstuffs, the beans will continue to cook once you remove them from the heat source, so it’s important to cool them down quickly. As soon as they are out of the heat, pour the beans into a colander, which will allow them to lose their heat more rapidly.
If you are roasting coffee indoors, there will probably some smoke from the beans; simply turn on the exhaust fan on the stove to dissipate it. Like all good things in life, quality roasted coffee takes time. The beans won’t reach their peak flavor until about 24 hours after the roasting process, so if you can, hold out on popping them in your Saeco espresso machines ‘til then. During this time, excess CO2 is released from the beans and the new chemical structure stabilizes