Brewing & Recipes

Brewing Espresso

The process of espresso brewing is so demanding that only the best coffees can be put through the process and still deliver a satisfying, balanced beverage. It requires careful attention and, if done properly, it will persuade the highest quality coffee beans to release their color, texture, flavor, and aroma in a concentrated liquid, and cause an emulsion of coffee oils to rise to the surface. There are six elements that need your close attention in order to successfully brew the perfect espresso.

  1. Temperature: Espresso needs to be brewed at a temperature that is below boiling. Optimum temperatures range from 197ºF to 203ºF. Our Tazzina espresso blends should be brewed between 197ºF and 198ºF.
  2. Grind: The grind of the espresso blend or single origin is critical to the success of the drink. The correct grind can only be determined by brewing an espresso and monitoring the extraction. We recommend an extraction of 23 – 27 seconds and 1.25 -1.5 oz. of water.
  3. Quantity: The quantity of espresso used will also affect the correct particle size, extraction rate and overall flavor of the espresso. We recommend 7 -8 grams per serving.
  4. Tamp: The proper tamp compacts the ground coffee to ensure the water passes through the grounds instead of around them. Tamp pressure will depend on the coffee ground particle size, but should range from 30 to 60 lbs. Place your portafilter on a bathroom scale to obtain a reference. There is great debate on the proper tamper. We encourage you to experiment. Our testing over the last 30 years has encouraged us to recommend a slightly convex tamper as this dome will increase outward pressure against the coffee filter basket. The sides of the basket allow water to slip past the coffee. Increasing the tamp pressure outward deters the water from successfully slipping past the coffee grounds.
  5. The Extraction: If your machine allows for it, wet the coffee, and then supply full pressure (8-9 bar). The espresso should first extract as a thin black stream, then slow to a rich, brown, and frothy liquid stream of espresso. Stop the flow at 1.25 – 1.5 oz.
  6. Color, Texture, and Taste: A properly brewed espresso will have a marbleized appearance and a crema or foam that dissipates slowly. The bubbles of the crema should be tiny. Any white foam indicates an over-extracted espresso, which would have a bitter taste. A good espresso will have a full mouth feel, faint aroma in the cup, and complex tastes that develop and progress as it passes your palate. It should finish on the middle of the palate with notes of coffee, chocolate, nuts, grains, berries, etc. A great espresso has a lasting finish and will maintain its flavor even as it cools.

Brewing Coffee

Proper brewing enhances the taste of coffee by allowing you to extract the proper amount of flavor from the bean. There are six essential elements of good brewing:

  1. Correct Coffee-to-Water Ratio: Because coffee is a strong flavoring agent, it takes relatively little to produce a robust brew. The generally accepted ratio is 1.0 – 1.5% coffee to 98.5 – 99% water. This ratio gives a starting standard of 2 tablespoons per 8 oz. cup. Slightly more or less from this standard may enhance the flavor and body of the coffee.
  2. A Coffee Grind That Matches the Brewing Time: To prevent under- or over-extracting the flavor from the beans, you must match the right particle size (grind) with the right brewing time. Brewed coffee in filter paper or French press requires about 4 minutes extraction time. Finer grind particles will slow the extraction of filter paper, but not a French Press. The French press has a tendency to brew a “muddy” cup if the grind is too fine.
  3. Properly Operating Brewing Equipment: Because your brewing equipment controls the coffee’s contact with the water, it is important that it be precisely calibrated and well maintained. In particular, you should pay attention to the length of the brewing process, the temperature of the water and the amount of mixing (turbulence).
  4. Optimum Brewing Method: To achieve the flavor you desire, you must first choose the right brewing method. There are six basic methods of brewing: Steeping, Decoction, Percolation, Drip Filtration, Vacuum Filtration and Pressurized Infusion. Steeping, drip filtration and pressurized infusion are the most common methods. Vacuum filtration is a 19th century method of extraction that is gaining renewed interest recently.
  5. High-Quality Water: In general, water that contains 50 – 100 parts per million of dissolved minerals will produce the best-tasting coffee. However, water with this mineral content will be hard on brewing equipment, since a portion of the minerals in the water will bond to the heaters and piping of the brewing unit. It is important to find a compromise in quality of water and flavor of your coffee. Water that is below 50 ppm will be best for your equipment.
  6. An Appropriate Filtering Medium: A well-made filter is essential to clarify the beverage and separate the extract from the coffee grounds. Very, fine, gold filters will yield a high quality beverage, but will not remove the finest particles of coffee. A paper filter will brew a clear cup, but inhibit the body or texture of a coffee. Try different methods side by side to find the one your prefer.