Espresso is the basic ingredient in most coffee drinks no matter what fancy name they are given at the local coffee bar. Whether you are ordering a latte, cappuccino or mocha, espresso is what gives these drinks their coffee flavor.
Espresso is the type of beverage produced by pushing hot water (between 190 F and 195 F in temperature) at high pressure (between 8 and 9 bars) through a bed of finely ground, compacted coffee. Shots of espresso should take about 20 to 25 seconds to brew. For a normal single shot of espresso you would use approximately 1 to 1.5 ounces of liquid and approximately 7 grams of ground coffee. To make a normal double shot between 2 and 2.5 ounces of liquid is used and the volume of coffee grounds is doubled.
However, you can produce many varieties of coffee specialty drinks by going beyond these general guidelines for single and double shots. There is no limit to the flavorful combinations you can create by adding ingredients to the basic espresso formula explained above, which is known as the Espresso Rule of Thumb. The recipes below will provide you with some ideas on what you can add to the basics to make a number of coffee specialty drinks at home. These traditional recipes can also be adapted to suit your mood and taste.
Vary Your Shots
Sticking to the Espresso Rule of Thumb is an option, not a necessity, for those who want to get the most out of their espresso machine. Another type of shot you can try is called the Ristretto or the “little one”. This involves a shot that measures about 0.75 to 1 ounce that is pulled through approximately 14 grams of ground coffee in about 20 to 25 seconds. On the other hand, you can try the Lungo, or long pull, which means that about twice the amount of water is pulled through the coffee grounds, so instead of using a 2 to 2.5 ounce double shot, you would have a 5 to 6 ounce double shot.
Remember that shots of espresso should take about 20 to 25 seconds. Also, if you find that your shots pull too quickly, too slowly, or taste bitter refer to the Espresso Rule of Thumb for some more tips.
For Cappuccinos and Lattes It’s All About The Milk
Depending on whether you use 1%, 2% or whole milk you will end up with either a cappuccino or a latte. A cappuccino has frothed and steamed milk; a latte contains only steamed milk. A variety of flavorings can also be added to both of these kinds of drinks. (See our Monin syrups for some delicious options.) The recipes for basic cappuccinos and lattes are as follows:
2 to 2.5 ounces espresso (double shot)
2.5 ounces frothed milk
2.5 ounces steamed milk
For a cup of cappuccino use equal parts of espresso, steamed milk and frothed milk. Place the espresso in the cup first, and then add steamed milk, followed by frothed milk. Adding flavored syrup or MOCAFE to your cappuccino can spice up this basic recipe.
Other Combinations To Try
For a different twist, try making a Dry Cappuccino, which has a double shot of espresso in it and frothed milk on top. This variation contains little or no steamed milk. A Wet Cappuccino has a double shot of espresso with more steamed milk than frothed milk.
A café latte contains only steamed milk. Flavorings can also be added to vary the taste of your latte.
2 to 2.5 ounces espresso (double shot)
4 to 5 ounces steamed milk
More Special Recipes
2 to 2.5 ounces espresso (double shot)
3 ounces fruit flavored syrup
For a cool alternative to hot drinks fill up a 12-ounce glass with ice, and then add the espresso, syrup and cold milk.
2 to 2.5 ounces espresso (double shot)
Dollop of frothed milk
Use a demitasse cup for this drink because it is just one shot of espresso with a small amount of frothed milk spooned on top. The ratio of espresso to milk is usually 80:20.
2 to 2.5 ounces espresso (double shot)
6 ounces steamed milk
.5 ounce chocolate syrup
Whipped cream (optional)
Chocolate sprinkles (optional)
Begin by adding the syrup, espresso and steamed milk to a cup. Top if off with a little whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. (Remember you can adjust the amount of syrup depending on your preference.)
Ways To Cut The Calories
For a low fat version substitute the whipped cream with frothed, skim milk. For extra flavoring without fat, carbohydrates or calories choose one of our Monin O’Free syrups, and to sweeten your cup of cappuccino sprinkle in some Splenda.
More Options For Your Cup of Coffee
You can also choose to make a Café Americano or a Café Crema. Café Americano is a single shot of espresso with 6 to 8 ounces of hot water added to it. This coffee drink is a little sweeter tasting because hot water is added to the shot, not run through the coffee grounds. However you will still be making a full-bodied cup of coffee even though you are using more water.
Café Crema is a single shot, but it is a long pull. You pull 6 to 8 ounces of water through the ground coffee instead of 1.5 ounces. Also to make a Café Crema you will need to use more coarsely ground beans.
The sky is the limit in creating unique coffee specialty drinks. Just take any of these basic recipes and simply adjusting the amount of espresso, steamed milk, frothed milk or syrup.
If You Just Want a Cup o’ Joe…
There are also ways to be inventive using your drip coffee machine. Here are some specialty drink recipes to try:
Café Au Lait
2 to 2.5 ounces DRIP coffee
6 ounces steamed milk
The Café au Lait uses drip coffee with steamed milk added to it.
By using your drip coffee machine you can make a Hammerhead. Just place a single shot of espresso in your coffee cup and then fill the rest of the cup with drip coffee.
There are two schools of thought on buying and storing coffee beans. The argument usually plays out something like this:
So who is right?
In general, freshly roasted beans respond better to water pressure, temperature and the brewing process as a whole. And beans purchased directly from the roaster and stored under natural conditions tend to grind more easily. But if your roaster stores them in an open bag or bin for more than a week after roasting, they are more than likely past their peak.
Because coffee beans have residual moisture on them after roasting they do need air to cool down or relax. This is often referred to as a resting period and lasts anywhere between one and three days.
Let it be known though, the two largest enemies of freshly roasted beans are oxygen and moisture. And if your roaster does not use air to cool the beans, the residual moisture may cause them to loose flavor and turn rancid rapidly. An easy way to tell if your beans are past their peak is if they have a sour taste or cigarette-like aroma.
If you are lucky enough to have your roaster package the beans in foil or plastic bags with a one-way valve that allows the naturally occurring gasses to escape, deterioration of your beans will be minimized. Italian roaster, Illy for instance, packages beans in nitrogen and seals them in an airtight can. When packaged correctly, beans can be stored for up to two years.
If your roaster uses a heat sealed film or foil bag like Lavazza, transfer the coffee to an airtight, opaque storage container immediately after opening. By using an airtight container like our coffee bean storage tins with a rubber-lined lid you will be able to keep your coffee fresh for several weeks.
Many people do not realize how important the proper storage of coffee is. A lot of people believe that freezing or refrigerating makes coffee last longer, but this type of storage will alter the aging of the coffee. Freezing beans lock in the moisture and stop the naturally occurring chemical process. Additionally, refrigerators are damp and filled with odor. Who wants your fresh beans to absorb the smell of last night's leftovers?
And in the instance that you purchase pre-ground coffee, make sure to brew it as soon as possible because coffee will begin to loose its flavor as soon as you grind it.
Whole beans store better than ground coffee. Because once you've ground the coffee the aromas and flavors are inherently lost. Therefore it's best to grind as much as you need and immediately put your freshly roasted beans in an opaque, airtight container.
Hopefully this article has transformed you from the typical “Vern” – someone who was relatively uneducated about coffee bean storage - into a “Ralph”, a coffee storage connoisseur. Now it's time to use your knowledge; keep your coffee fresh and educate the “Verns” of the world on proper coffee storage.
You’ve made a step in the right direction and purchased a grinder so you can have fresh, flavorful coffee anytime you want it. Your next goal: get the right grind for your brewer. Here’s a quick reference guide that will give you a starting point for your grind based on the brewer you’re using.
Brewing with a French press requires a very coarse grind. The reason for this is twofold. First off, the time water is in contact with the coffee grounds is longer than any other brewing method (3 or 4 minutes). Having a coarser grind means that less surface area is exposed, thereby reducing your chances of overextracting the coffee. Secondly, the filters in French presses can’t prevent very fine grounds from passing through, so a coarser grind decreases the amount of “mud” you’ll get in your cup. A French press grind is noticeably coarser than the pre-ground drip coffee you can buy in the grocery store, and is similar to the size of unrefined sugar crystals.
|Drip Coffee / Vacuum Brewer|
The grind that is most compatible with drip coffee makers and vacuum pots is slightly finer than the French press grind we discussed above. In these brewing processes, the water and coffee are in contact for only a few seconds (long enough for the water to pass through the grounds), so there’s less worry about overextraction, and their filters keep out most fine particles. The appropriate grind for these brewers is about the size of table salt. If you’d like to make a side-by-side comparison, most store-bought pre-ground coffees are about the size you’d need.
For an espresso grind, the coffee grounds are closer to the size of fine pepper. When coffee is ground this fine, several factors come into play. You've exposed more overall surface area that the brewing water can contact - excellent for a nice, full extraction of espresso. But by grinding this fine, you've also increased the resistance the grind gives to the passage of water. This means that a fine grind may clog up a paper filter in an auto drip coffee maker, but the 8 – 9 BAR pressure of an espresso machine has enough power to push through those grounds and deliver you a rich, full beverage. Keep in mind that although the grind will be very similar, if your espresso machine uses a pressurized style portafilter your coffee will need to be a slight bit coarser than it would be for use with a non-pressurized portafilter.
|Ibriks (Turkish Coffeemakers)|
Turkish coffee is a very demanding brewing method, requiring a ritual of bringing a pot of water, coffee grounds and sugar to boil 3 or 4 times, and serving it up in special sized cups. Yes, the grounds do stay in the cup, and the key word for these grounds is “fine”. Turkish coffee uses just about the finest coffee grounds you can get – a fine, yet textured powder that resembles the granular consistency of confectioner's sugar.
Every grinder is calibrated a little differently, so the exact grind setting that you’ll use will fluxuate depending on your grinder. But hopefully these visual clues will point you in the right direction. Keep in mind that these are just guidelines – if you find that you prefer your drip coffee a little more finely ground, go for it. It’s all about taste.
Wine tasters religiously follow what I call the S³ Routine: Swirl, Sniff, and Sip. This ritual is meant allow the taster to fully experience the flavors and aroma of the wine; coffee tasting is a little different, but the emphasis on the senses is still there.
Ideally, the tasting experience begins way before a hot cup of Joe is placed in front of you. The first time you’re exposed to the grinds, take a minute to inhale its fragrance—this should give you some indication of what to expect. Once water is introduced, the essence of your grind should begin to reveal itself and give off an alluring aroma to whet the palate. Then, there’s the fun part—trying your beverage for the first time.
Coffee connoisseurs deliberately slurp the brew and slide it around the entire surface of the mouth and tongue. This allows their taste buds to sort out the different nuisances of the brew. Most experts tend to concentrate on three fundamentals at this stage: body, balance, and acidity.
Body refers to the texture of a brew. A full-bodied coffee will have a nice, rich, creamy texture. Wide variations can be found in coffee, ranging from thin and watery to thick and creamy. The second element, balance, refers to blend of flavors inherent in your brew. A well-balanced coffee may be complex, but the flavors should be evenly distributed and not overwhelming to the palate. While some people prefer a well-balanced blend, others enjoy strong flavor characteristics and may not seek balance in their coffee. Acidity, our last term, does not deal with the pH level of the java, but rather the dry, tangy sensation the flavor characteristics of your brew. Lighter roasts should exhibit more acidity than dark ones.
Once you’ve swallowed your first sip, you should experience an aftertaste that lingers on the palate. This is kind of like the finish in wine tasting! Coffee aftertastes can vary considerably, depending on the body, balance, and acidity of your java.
When all is said and done, coffee is a highly subjective beverage. What appeals to one person may not interest another. We’ve simply given you the tools to identify your preferences, what you choose to brew is completely up to you.
Below is a list of some flavor characteristics often associated with certain types of coffee…If you’re a newbie, or even seasoned coffee drinker looking to try a new brew, this list can help guide you to the perfect java.
Brewing coffee has come a long way since Cowboy Pots and Parisian Percolators. There are so many ways to brew and enjoy coffee nowadays thanks to a variety of brewing methods. Whether it's with a traditional drip or vacuum pot, stovetop or French press - brewing coffee is anything but run-of-the-mill. Coffee lovers have an almost endless variety of roasts and grinds to choose from - as well as several ways to brew the delectable drink, depending on your individual taste.
The most common way to brew coffee is with a traditional drip coffeemaker. This tried and true method brews great tasting coffee if used in conjunction with somewhat coarsely ground, good quality coffee beans.
With most drip coffeemakers there is an internal heating element that brings the water to the ideal brewing temperature of 196-204°. The near-boiling water is then to some extent evenly distributed over the coffee grounds that are contained in either a paper or gold-tone filter basket. Depending on the size of your pot, a drip coffeemaker can take up to 10 minutes to brew.
Many drip coffeemakers have features like automatic timers and partial pot brewing settings – allowing you to program your brewing times as well as control the quantity. Features like these are indispensable for those on the go!
And several machines on the market come equipped with stainless steel carafes, rather than the traditional glass carafes, which keep fresh brewed coffee hot for hours.
Drip coffeemakers are ideal for those of us who have become accustomed to purchasing pre-ground coffee and enjoy the familiarity of a traditional coffeemaker.
|Vacuum Style Coffeemakers|
Many coffee connoisseurs agree - coffee brewed with a vacuum style coffeemaker tastes noticeably different. Is it because of the brewing style? Yes!
A vacuum style coffeemaker utilizes steam and vacuum pressure to brew at the ideal temperature. W ater is heated rapidly in the lower chamber by either an internal or external heat source. Once boiling is complete, the water is forced into the upper chamber where the medium ground coffee is contained. The heated water will infuse with the coffee grounds for several minutes before it returns to the lower chamber through the siphon using gravity. Once all the coffee returns to the lower chamber, separate the two pots and use the lower pot for serving.
Many of the vacuum style coffeemakers come equipped with a hot plate – which will keep your coffee hot, as well as an automatic timer. In addition to being a conversation piece, the vacuum style coffeemaker brews with renowned accuracy – so your coffee is full of aroma and flavor.
Cousin to the vacuum style coffeemaker, the stovetop is making a resurgence - popping up in kitchens everywhere! These eye-catching pots have the familiar two chamber brewing system with an internal siphon.
But unlike the vacuum pot, the lower chamber on the stovetop holds both the water and coffee grounds in a small basket.
To brew a thick, rich pot of coffee, start with grounds that are somewhat finely ground. As you heat the water and grounds together on the stovetop, the blend is siphoned from the lower chamber through the metal filter and into the top chamber.
Because many of the stovetop coffeemakers are made with 18/10 stainless steel, they retain heat very well. The stovetop has been a staple in Italian kitchens for years because of its resilience and ability to brew delicious tasting coffee easily.
Also known as a cafetière , the French press was developed to simply produce some of the richest coffee imaginable.
To make coffee using the French press, just fill the glass, plastic or stainless steel cylinder with coarsely ground coffee – a good guide is one tablespoon for every cup of hot water. The water you add to the cylinder should be just about boiling; then let it steep for roughly three to five minutes depending on your personal preference. Push the plunger down and the wire mesh filter will force the grounds to the bottom – separating them from the liquid and produce some of the most robust coffee around.
While all of these brewing methods have the ability to make delicious coffee, each have a specific grind that enhances the flavor. For instance, with a drip coffeemaker, a medium grind produces the optimum flavor - anything else would be too strong. The filter on the vacuum pot and stovetop allows for a finer grind, producing a smoother taste. While a French press requires a coarser grind to prevent any sediment from forming - giving you a truly bold taste.
There are many elements that, with time, you can adjust to your own personal preference. Whether it is the bean, the grind or the brewing style - the object is to find a method that works for you.
It seems like nowadays everyone is looking for an easier way out – a way to cut some corners and make things more manageable. Industry leaders have caught on to this idea and have developed several espresso machines and coffeemakers that utilize pre-packaged Espresso Pods, Capsules or K-Cups that make the brewing process even more efficient.Exclusively ESE Approved Pod Machines
An Easy Serving Espresso Pod, commonly referred to as an ESE approved pod is a single-serving pre-packaged espresso pod that has been specifically shaped to fit perfectly inside the chamber of an espresso machine. The amount of coffee, its grind and the degree to which it has been pressed is all specifically defined to ensure a perfect cup of espresso. So all the grinding, dosing and tamping is streamlined! The hassle and mess often associated with a grinder is gone and replaced with a simple pod.
Espresso machines like the FrancisFrancis! X6 Trio and Espressione Grace Auto come with a portafilter that exclusively uses these ESE approved espresso pods. The X6 Trio has a three-position portafilter that allows you to brew a lungo, ristretto or standard shot of espresso, while the Espressione Grace Auto has an attached hinged portafilter. Although these machines have differently designed portafilters, they both have the look and feel of a regular semi-automatic with a chrome plated brass portafilter and stainless steel accents.Versatile Pod and Ground Espresso Machines
Some machines by Capresso, Espressione, Gaggia, Saeco, FrancisFrancis! and la Pavoni have the ability to brew delicious tasting espresso using either pre-packaged ESE espresso pods or ground coffee. By simply swapping out the included filter baskets or portafilters, you can easily switch back and forth between ground coffee or espresso pods on some machines.
If you enjoy making espresso at home, you may find using espresso pods like Illy a quick and easy way to brew espresso while giving you the taste and consistency you are looking for. While most pods are sold in fairly large quantities, many of them now come individually wrapped in oxygen free, foil sealed packets for extra freshness. Both Lavazza and Espressione Pods are individually sealed.
Nespresso Capsule Only Machines
Capsule machines are just as convenient as machines that use espresso pods because they too come in single serving portions in two sizes. The entire line of Nespresso machines operates exclusively with Nespresso capsules. Nespresso capsules are available in 12 different types of coffee strengths and characteristics – making brewing a variety of coffees extremely easy. The Nespresso Capsule System creates a precise and tidy brewing experience s ince ground espresso and other brands of pods or capsules cannot be used to make espresso with these machines.
Keurig, a Dutch company known for single-cup coffee brewers, offers a coffeemaker that brews the perfect cup of gourmet coffee using a K-Cup system. A K-cup is extremely similar to the Nespresso capsule system, however, a K-Cup is unique in its shape. While the end of a Nespresso Capsule is pointed, a K-Cup is flat on the bottom. These single-serving brewing cups are easy to use and dispose of, and come in many varieties of coffee from roasters like Green Mountain, Gloria Jean's, Timothy's and Van Houtte.
While all of these machines not only save time and energy, they also control the consistency and quality of your coffee, so there is no more guesswork! And because these machines are so user friendly anyone can look like an acclaimed barista instantly.
Quentin Tarantino nailed it on the head in the movie Pulp Fiction during the Bonnie Situation when he gave John Travolta a tongue lashing about coffee.
“I know how good my coffee is because I'm the one who buys it,” his character Jimmie shouted, disparaging the coffee that his wife, Bonnie normally buys.“ I buy the gourmet stuff because when I drink it, I want to taste it.”
And he's right. Most people buy gourmet coffee because they want to taste it. But, with so many different gourmet coffees available it's difficult to know what to buy and why.
Know your Beans
One of the most important things you can do to familiarize yourself with gourmet coffee is to become aware of its origin. Because there are more than three-dozen coffee producing countries, beans will vary in taste significantly.
For instance, beans grown in Central America are generally light-bodied, meaning they have a lighter taste than a heavier Indonesian coffee. Arabica coffee, which is predominately grown at a high altitude in Central America, has a well-balanced body and smooth taste.
Coffee grown in South America, specifically Brazil, is noticeably heavier bodied than coffee grown in Central America. Coffee from South America also has a distinct aroma and a crisp bold flavor. Many coffee aficionados attribute the taste difference to the low altitude style of growing the farmers in South America use.
Indonesian coffee on the other hand has a very heavy body, full flavor and low acidity. Sumatra Mandheling and Yemen Mocha Java, both grown in Indonesia have a very heavy body, rich aroma and sweet aftertaste. And although Indonesian coffee is considered somewhat rare, it usually remains relatively low priced.
And African coffee has a taste all to its own. Ethiopian and Kenya AA are considered by many to be relatively mild, but because of its strong aroma, it often has a higher price tag.Espresso Roast
We all know that espresso is not specifically a bean, but the end result of the brewing process. That being said, roasters have begun catering to the particular palates of coffee lovers.
Italian roaster Illy, known worldwide for their espresso, has taken Arabica beans from Brazil and Guatemala and blended them together in their Café Espresso Whole Bean. By coupling body and flavor, Illy created a Medium Roast that fills your mouth with caramel undertones. And the Illy Dark Roast is perfect if you enjoy Americanos because of its understated flavor.
Lavazza, another Italian roaster uses beans from around the world, including South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Indonesia. Their Gold Selection uses only Brazilian coffees, that when combined, creates a smooth tasting espresso that has a noticeably chocolaty aftertaste.
West-coast roaster Supreme Bean gathers and roasts beans from all over the world too. DiAbruzzo, a medium blend, utilizes beans from Asia and Central and South America and is smooth bodied and great tasting. The DiAbruzzo is perfect for those looking for a great straight shot. While DiPalermo, a blend of seven beans from around the world, produces a fantastic shot – similar to that of a southern Italian style espresso.
If you're looking for full-flavor and no bitter aftertaste, Café La Semeuse Classique Espresso is for you. The full-flavor in their Classique Espresso is the result of roasting beans from Central and South America in small batches at high altitudes. Because Café La Semeuse roasts at higher altitudes there is reduced atmospheric pressure – allowing the beans to be heated longer without risk of burning.Drip Coffee
These same roasters know that brewing great tasting coffee can be done in several different ways - whether it is with an espresso machine or drip coffeemaker. Taking that into consideration, these roasters have created blends ideal for drip coffeemakers.
Illy Drip Ground Coffee is the ultimate ground coffee if your looking for a medium body coffee that has a smooth, mellow taste.
The roasters at Lavazza have several great tasting roasts perfect for drip coffeemakers too. The Lavazza Ground Premium Drip and the Grand Filtro Dark Roast Whole Bean are ideal for any occasion. Both are blends of Arabica beans from Central America and Africa and are perfect examples of how well balanced blends results in coffee with rich aromas.
California roaster Supreme Bean has several great blends for drip coffees as well. Their Yemen Mocha Java is the perfect combination of two great tasting coffees – Yemen Matari Mocha and Java Gondang Estate. The rich tasting Yemen Mocha Java blend will leave you wanting more! Supreme Bean also roasts an amazing Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. And while it is well balanced, it has a fruity flavor with an aroma characteristic of berries.
While this is just a sampling of espresso and coffees we offer, it gives you a good idea what gourmet coffee is out there. So whether it's a light roast from Central America with a crisp bold taste, or a Yemen Mocha Java blend from Indonesia that leaves your mouth with a full flavor, these will surely please your palate.
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