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How to keep it special when making espresso coffee at home.

by Dom Majdandzic 21 Dec 2017
If you make coffee at home on an espresso machine here’s a little tip for you to ensure you’re keeping your extraction special. Judging an espresso shot by visual appraisal of the espresso shot "from dark to light" is the method that most people historically employ to prepare an espresso coffee. Typically they watch how the colour changes from dark brown to a caramel colour, then to blonde. This theory suggests that you end the shot when the caramel colour ends. However, coffee is notoriously unpredictable and changes day by day, so the best way, we believe, is to use a scale and a timer.

Extraction by weight and time

In order to achieve consistent results that taste like the coffee was made in a White Horse Cafe you should follow the following steps:
  1. Using a scale place your portafilter on it and tare to zero.
  2. Freshly grind the coffee into the portafilter until it is full. Most new domestic machines will use a commercial quality and size portafilter.
  3. Place the portafilter back on the scale, and using a teaspoon remove extra coffee from the portafilter until you reach between a dose of approximately 24g.
    • You really need to be accurate here as coffee reacts with even 0.1g increments.
    • White Horse Coffee recommend sticking to a dose range of 23.9 to 24.1g. But, I have noticed that when I'm using my Brevile machine it is happy being dosed at 23g, so you may have to adjust for your own machinery.
    • This will make either 2 regular cups or 1 large cup. The dose varies only a little between a single and double basket.
  4. After you have the correct amount of coffee in your portafilter press the coffee using the tamper.
    • It is critical to press flat and less important to press hard. Simply press until the tamper stops moving down and keep it level.
    • For a more detailed guide on tamping coffee please read our Home barista guide to tamping.
  5. Insert portafilter into the group head on your machine, place the scale on the drip tray and place a cup on the scale. Hit the manual button on your machine and extract 48g into your cup.
    • You’re aiming for between 48-50mls but with a few drips it will most likely hit 50.

For machines with volumetric setup

If you have a volumetric setup on your machine you are in a great place, as all you need to do is ensure it is delivering 48-50g of brewed coffee. This is very close to how we brew in store.
  1. Before brewing enter the machine's menu and select something like "vol set".
  2. Grind and dose coffee (as above) and insert the portafilter into the group head.
  3. Place the scale on the drip tray and place a cup on the scale, and tare.
  4. Hit the brew button.
  5. Pay attention to the scale. Stop the brew at 47g, and it will then carry over to 50.
  6. Repeat the process and adjust if you are unhappy with results.
  7. After you have set up your volumetric function the coffee then needs to extract in 30-35 seconds.
    • If your machine can time the shot, great.
    • If your machine does not time the shot, it does not, start with a timer and press it simultaneously whilst pressing your brew button to obtain reliable shot times.
  • This is a guide and you can alter to your taste.
  • You may need to consult the manufacturer's manual for volumetric setup. Just make sure the machine is set for shot volume, not time.
  • Most domestic machines are pre-set to extract 30mls of espresso in 30 seconds.

Keep it special

This method will put your coffee making in the top 10%. It’s how we do it in all our cafes and will ensure you keep your coffee extraction special. This process will also allow you to make informed decisions about how you like your coffee, and when to adjust the grind. And if you want your coffee stronger, just run another fresh shot through with freshly ground coffee. Once you are familiar with this "recipe" system of controlling the amount of coffee being dosed and the amount of coffee being drawn out, you may wish to increase dose and brewed coffee volumes. Your particular machine may work better on a different recipe but our White Horse Coffee recipe in store is 24g in 50g out drawn in 30-35 seconds. Enjoy your espresso! Dom PS. If you want to get your hands on some great scales and cups you can grab them at our online store here.

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