With the popularity of espresso skyrocketing over the past decade this red-brown supercharged drink can be found being sold almost anywhere.
Even if you’ve never heard of one, you have most likely seen of partook of the espresso derived drink the cappuccino or the café late.
What is Espresso
While espresso is at its core coffee, there are several key differences between brewing a shot and entire pot; one of the key ones being the concentrations. While you would generally use the same amount of ground beans for both an espresso and a pot of coffee the former yields just one ounce of liquid. Basically, espresso is a super concentrated coffee bean extract. These shots are tasty, creamy and deliver more of a caffeinated punch then a cup of coffee. It’s easy to see why so many consumers are looking to make these beverages in the comfort of their own home.
How Is it Made?
This Italian beverage is made by forcing pressurized hot water through a thick bed of finely ground coffee grinds. The beans used are typically Arabica and are roasted until black and oily. The beans are then ground into a fine particulate which closely resemble the texture of powdered sugar. Many expert Baristas claim that a true espresso depends on several factors including: grind texture, water temperature and brew time.
How can I Make an Espresso?
Time was that espresso could only be made using large devices known as piston-driven machines. Today, a long range of espresso machines are available on the market that varies in the fanciness and expense factor; with the two usually being positively correlated. However, whether the machine is super-automatic, semi-automatic or even a camping model the principals are still the same. Next, let’s take a look at how you favorite drink goes from water and beans to delicious treat.
How Does an Espresso Machine Work?
An espresso machine works to enact the principals of brewing a shot as described above. Water is added and heated to near boiling point. Once the optimal temperature has been reached the water is forced at a rate of about 225 psi through the “puck” of grinds and a filter. For an ideal shot the brew time should be no more than 25 seconds and should produce about an ounce of liquid. Each part of the machine has its own roles to play.
This is where the water it pumped from and to the heating element. Depending on the model the reservoirs can range in size and shape. Some models even have the option to hook-up directly to your plumbing system.
The water heater is a small chamber with a one way valve where water can be pumped in from the water source. At the bottom of the chamber is the heating element which contains a filament similar to what can be found in your toaster. When electricity passes through the coil is gets red hot and heats the water to a specific temperature.
One the water is heated to near boiling it is pumped to the “Grouphead”, a small shower-head like valve that rests above the bed of coffee grinds. The valve forces the water through the coffee at a rate of about 225 psi (pounds per square inch).
The Portafilter is an ice cream scoop type device which holds the grinds and filter. Underneath the chamber is any number of nozzles, depending on the model, where the espresso is eventually dispensed. The device is attached to the machine after the water has finished boiling at which point the espresso shot is brewed. Enjoy!