Ten Tips

For Better Home Espresso

If you were lucky enough to have Santa give you a shiny new espresso machine for Christmas I am sure that, as well as having a huge amount of fun, you’ve found some days the coffee is tasting better than others. Why is that ? Pulling a great espresso is a tricky thing to do and to repeat them takes practice and skill. Here at Cast Iron, we are as guilty as anyone to occasionally pulling a bad espresso shot. We’ve done them all, the gushers, the chokers the channellers. But if you follow these quick and easy 10 tips, hopefully you’ll see consistency improve and you’ll be on your way to enjoying better espresso time and time again. Plus you’ll save a lot of coffee waste in the process.

How To Improve Your Home Espresso Shot

1. If you haven’t recently made a coffee, purge the grinder of 1 dose worth of coffee and discard it. All grinders have some retention and you’ll be using old stale ground coffee if you don’t purge.

2. Tamp straight - take a look at your coffee after you’ve tamped it. You want it to be dead level. Water is lazy and tries to find the quickest way out possible so even the slightest angle will lead to different extraction levels and inconsistency

3. Use filtered water. Not only will this help keep your machine in tip-top condition but it will greatly improve coffee flavour.

4. Only ever use the double basket. If your espresso machine came with both a single and double basket, give the single basket a good clean and then put it into a drawer and never use it again. Ever. All shots should be ‘doubles’. If you are constantly switching baskets you’ll need to radically change your grind size back and forth and this just leads to a world of pain.

5. Use gram scales to weigh your dose and shots. You don’t need to do this for every espresso (Ok I do, but frankly I need to get out more) but consistency is important and you’ll soon be able to eyeball say what a 36g shot looks like. All roasters will give you basic recipes for their coffees. These are great starting points, then tweak for your personal taste and equipment." I use a simple 1:2 ratio, which is easy to read on gram scales, this means if I have 18g in my basket I want 36g out which leads us on to point 6.​​​​​​

6. Use your phone to time your shots. Again not every time, but if you know that THE last amazing shot took 26 seconds to run, by altering grind size to match the time will help replicate it (assuming dose weight is consistent).

Tamping straight for a flat bed of coffee produces a more even cofee extraction and fuller flavour

7. Practise on a low complexity, high solubility coffee. An espresso blend like our UNITY will be far more forgiving than say a bright Kenyan coffee.

8. When you pull a poor shot, still taste them. Never throw a shot down the sink without tasting it, even the shockers. Being able to differentiate between an under and over-extracted shot will improve your taste skills which makes dialling in much easier.

9. Be aware of changes in ambient temperature. A kitchen is one of the rooms in the house where the temperature can change quite radically throughout the day and you’ll need to change your grind setting accordingly. Coffee beans are quite complex little fellas and they do swell and contract in size due to temperature. Basically, if its cold, loosen the grind slightly, and if its warm then tighten it a touch.

10. Consider buying a better grinder. Then buy its mother. Honestly, I can’t emphasize enough how important a high-quality grinder is for espresso and that is especially true if you enjoy light roasted complex coffees (like ours, hint hint) For home espresso machines, you really do need to budget a similar amount for a grinder.

11. Change your wifi password to ‘ESPRESSO-LEGEND’

 

Good luck ! Give these a go and report back with how you got on. If you do have any questions please do feel free to get in touch with us anytime. We are here to help.  

Do you have a tip you’d like to share? then get in touch! We’d love to hear from you too.

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