HomeRoast Digest


Topic: To prepare espresso (3 msgs / 294 lines)
1) From: Irene and Lubos Palounek
I am now  learning how to make a good cup of espresso or cappuccino. I have
tried the method described below with Sweet Maria's Monkey Blend and the
Sweet Maria's Moka Kadir blend roasted Full City and the Sweet Maria's
Classic Italian Espresso blend roasted  a shade darker. I plan to go the
same way for other beans and for the Americanos made in our HX/E61 espresso
machine. I have printed those instructions and keep them next to the
machine. If you have any additions, corrections, or comments, please let me
know.
Although the procedure might seem complicated, it adds just a very short
time to the most simple method (except using a super-automatic machine.) It
is just important to learn do it all quickly and effortlessly. 
I have found that backflushing the group after each shot or series of
back-to-back shots really leads to a better cup of coffee. I was surprised
to see how much sludge comes out when backflushing and can understand why it
spoils the next cup if left in the machine more than a minute. We keep the
backflushing insert in the single spout handle and make the coffee using the
other handle with the double shot basket. 
I believe that letting the hot water through the group as shown below helps
in keeping the temperature at the correct level and leads to a better cup of
coffee.
I know that it would be ideal to steam the milk for cappuccino while the
shot pours out -- but I am the limiting factor.  It is just too much for me
to do those two things in parallel. So, I steam the milk first, just before
starting the first step shown below. While waiting, the steamed milk suffers
and separates a bit, I know.  
Finally, let me ask few additional questions?
How long does it take your espresso machine to warm up properly?
Do you leave the espresso machines on all the time?
How often do you empty the water and put in fresh water?  Do you have your
espresso machine connected to water supply -- do you recommend it?
We use water from a reverse osmosis filtration system. However, we are on
well water that is very hard and the water for everything in the house is
run through a large softener. That softened water tastes terrible, so the
reverse osmosis filtered water is used for drinking, cooking, the icemaker,
and of course for coffee and tea making. CSA allows people to drink tea
occasionally, correct?
Thanks for your help -- have a nice day -- Lubos
To prepare Espresso
Based on the Vivace method on page 153 of "Espresso Coffee" by David C.
Schomer.
The serving cups must be hot.  Store the cups on the top of the espresso
maker and heat each cup by the hot water from the machine (or in the
microwave)  just before brewing the coffee. -- After "nightly" cleaning the
group handles, you must make a seasoning "throw-away" shot, which will come
out about five second faster ---> do not adjust the grind for that!
Turn ON:
a) Clean reservoir and fill with water -- switch ON - check light.
b) Push Lever UP and wait for water coming out -- push Lever DOWN -> boiler
fills.
c) Wait 5 minutes -> check that the (left) steam pressure gauge shows
between 1.1 and 1.4 bar
d) When the lower Red light is OFF, and Coffee (Green) light ON ->  machine
ready 
To make each cup of coffee:
1. Have preheated serving cup ready. Pre-heat group head and porta-filter by
running 2 ounces of water through the head with porta-filter with double
shot basket in place and the used grounds in it.  Run about six ounces of
water through the head prior to making the first shot after a long idle time
(more than 15 minutes since the last time the machine was used!
2. Push handle down to release pressure.  Empty and dry the coffee basket.
3. Grind 17 grams of coffee directly into the coffee basket. Be quick and
precise.
4. Distribute evenly with edge of finger, first toward you, than away from
you; repeat. Level of coffee before packing should be just at the edges of
the basket.
5. Pack straight down with low pressure, concentrate on being level. 
- Tap once lightly using the small end of the tamper to dislodge loose
coffee.
- Pack again straight down with 30 pounds of pressure; twist the packer 720
with 5 pounds of pressure to polish the coffee.
6. Just before putting porta-filter into the group head, let another 2 oz.
of water through the head.
7. Insert group handle into group head. Immediately extract a 1 oz. shot of
espresso in 25-28 seconds directly into the serving cup (*). Not extracting
the espresso immediately will allow the machine to cook the coffee grinds
and produce bitter espresso. Serve immediately; drink within ten seconds.
(Add steamed milk if needed.) 
{*} If it comes out under 25 seconds for 1 ounce, adjust the grind finer.
If it comes out over 30 seconds, adjust the grind coarser. Make very small
adjustments!  Do not change anything else!
8. Remove group handle from head and release a 2-ounce sample to clear
coffee oils out of the head.
9. Unless you are making another cup within one minute, insert blind filter
(on the smaller handle) and backflush the group; handle up until pump
pressure (the right gauge) is at least 9 bars - handle down to release
pressure; clean filter and repeat if necessary.
10. If you are making another cup soon, insert the group handle with the
used ground coffee back into the group head. (The used ground coffee keeps
the group handle warmer and leads to better "next cup.") If you plan to make
next drink in an hour or more, clean the ground coffee out.
11. If you are not making the next shot within three minutes, vacuum clean
the grinder.
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2) From: Jim Schulman
Hi Lubos,
It may be possible to overdo espresso (Of course, I'm not in the CSA)
You really don't need to backflush that often. Coffeeshops using 
"Schomer rules" do it daily (that is after 100s of espressos) using 
Urnex. I do it daily (after 5 shots or so) using water, and bimonthly
using Urnex.
Due to the thermosyphon, the E61 head sits at 100C (or whatever your 
water boils at) after idling. It needs to be cooled with about 6 
ounces of water, not heated. That goes for the PF as well, if it's 
left in the machine. Schomer's system applies only to heads that are 
less efficiently heated by being bolted to the boiler via a copper 
bar.
Run 2 ounces of water if there's more than about 2 minutes gap 
between making multiple espressos since the water in the HX will have
overheated. However, the head is so massive, that this makes little 
difference; basically, the brewing temperature will be much closer to
the head temperature, rather than the water temperature.
The Isomac Tea gets to full boiler pressure after about ten minutes, 
but isn't fully warmed up until about 30 to 40 minutes. It should be 
left on all day. Some use a timer switch to turn it off at night and 
on in the morning. I'm a decaf pulling night owl, so I leave mine on 
24/7. I do shut it down for a bimonthly scrub, since the case and 
head are too hot to really shine when the machine is on. As to 
machine life, one dealer will tell you to shut it down nights, 
another will tell you 24/7 spares the parts from expansion and 
contraction. If it really made a difference, they'd all be saying the
same thing, I think.
If you do run 6 ounces water at each session, you'll need to refill 
the tank after three to four sessions. It's a bit of a pain. There 
may be plumb-in kits available, but I don't know of any.
RO water espresso may not taste as good to you as espresso made with 
5 grain per gallon (90 mg/l) hardness water, which is the SCAA 
recommendation. However, any water above about 3 grains (50 mg/l) 
scales the boiler. So many conscientious shops use a water treatment 
that feeds tap water back into the RO water downstream of the filter 
to get the 3 grain hardness level. This may be the best compromise of
coffee quality and machine life.
Most owners of E61 machines agree that overfilling the basket, so 
that the grounds are up against the screen, makes for a better shot. 
If you do this, tamping becomes less important. Also, the 
Espressoparts NW tamper fits the Tea's Faema style baskets like a 
piston. This makes all the twisting, knocking, twirling etc. 
unnecessary, since the edges are perfectly tamped after a single 
press.
In general, I'd like to note that HX machines are easier to use than 
single boiler home machines. The E61 machines are especially 
forgiving. So it's best to do some experimenting to develop your own 
technique. Following Schomer to the letter, who authoritatively says 
one thing one day, and the exact opposite the next, without a seeming
clue that this might warrant a less authoritative tone, seems as much
a prescription for joyless anxiety as good espresso. 
Jim
On 5 Sep 2002 at 7:28, Irene and Lubos Palounek wrote:
<Snip>
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3) From: Dan Bollinger
<Snip>
icemaker,
<Snip>
Lubos, I think water is the most overlooked part of the good coffee
equation.  I use R/O water, too, after it has been softened.  The taste is
as good as spring water, to me.  Distilled water is flat tasting, no
dissolved oxygen.  Keeping water a high temps in an espresso machine might
drive the oxygen out leading to flat tasting coffee. If you don't think so,
just compare water from your hot and cold water faucets.  My suggestion, if
you want to keep the machine heated, is to connect it to the R/O water
supply and purge any stale, heated water.  Let the new water come up to
temperature and then pull a shot.  It will heat up faster than if you simply
fill a cold machine with cold water and turn it on.  If people haven't done
a 'cupping' of different waters you really should because this compenent is
99% of what we drink.
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