As a coffee lover, you probably know how important it is to make a good espresso. After all, it is the basis of almost all types of coffee , such as cappuccino and latte macchiato. But even if you think you know everything about making espresso, you might still make mistakes.
For example, if you don't use the right technique, it can negatively affect the taste and aroma of your coffee. In this article we will discuss the 5 most common beginners mistakes when making an espresso.
I will take a closer look at the importance of fresh coffee, tamping the ground coffee correctly, using the correct brewing ratio and grind, and why regular maintenance of your espresso machine is of great importance. After reading this article you have all the knowledge you need to make the perfect espresso with a delicious coffee aroma, a hazelnut-colored crema and a full body.
The coffee is not fresh
One of the biggest mistakes beginners make when brewing espresso is using old coffee beans. Many people are not aware that coffee beans quickly lose their aroma and flavor once they are roasted. This is of course a waste of all the work you put into making the perfect espresso. So get fresh coffee beans that are as close to the roast date as possible.
Another tip for preserving the freshness of your coffee beans is to grind the beans just before using them. This is important because ground coffee oxidizes faster and therefore loses its aroma and taste faster. To achieve the best results, it is also recommended to store the beans in a cool and dark place.
If you find that your coffee doesn't have the aroma you want, you may be using old beans. To get the best out of your coffee, it is essential to pay attention to the freshness of the coffee beans. This way you ensure that you can always make the perfect espresso with a delicious aroma.
Not tamping well
Tamping is the process of pressing the ground coffee into the portafilter before you start brewing espresso. Many beginners do not do this well and this can greatly affect the taste and aroma of your coffee. Because how do you tamp an espresso?
If you don't apply enough pressure when tamping, the water will flow through the ground coffee too quickly and you'll end up with an espresso that's too light. On the other hand, if you apply too much pressure, the water will flow too slowly through the coffee and you will get an espresso that is too bitter. It is therefore important to use the correct tamping technique to get a good result.
"A commonly used brewing ratio is 1:2, which means that you use 20 grams of ground coffee to make 40 grams of espresso"
Not using the correct brewing ratio
Another common beginner mistake is not using the correct ratio. The brewing ratio is the ratio between the amount of ground coffee and the amount of espresso you ultimately want. A commonly used brewing ratio is 1:2, which means that you use 20 grams of ground coffee to make 40 grams of espresso.
When I just started making espressos myself, I didn't know this and found it super difficult to consistently make a good espresso. Fortunately, I soon found out that the right brewing ratio and sticking to these variables is the most important factor in making the perfect espresso.
But why is this so important then? If you use too little coffee, you will get an espresso that is too light with a watery taste and a lack of aroma. Conversely, if you use too much coffee, you will end up with an espresso that is too strong and can taste bitter and be overpowering.
It is also important to adjust the brewing ratio to the type of coffee you use and your own taste preferences. Some types of coffee come into their own with a slightly higher or lower dosage. This is a matter of taste. We always provide brewing advice with the coffees we roast. This way you have a good starting point to get the most out of your coffee. If you notice that your espresso does not have the desired taste, you may need to adjust the brewing ratio.
With the right recipe or ratio you can make an espresso with a rich aroma, full flavor and a good balance between sweet, sour and bitter, or 'The God Shot'.
Not using the right grind
Finding the right grind size can be a challenge for the novice home barista, but it's worth spending a little extra time on this one. If the grind is too coarse, the water will flow through the coffee too quickly and you will get a weak espresso with little flavor and aroma and a thin, light crema. On the other hand, if the grind is too fine, the water will flow too slowly through the coffee, which can result in an espresso that is too bitter.
It is therefore important to experiment with different grinds and brewing methods until you find the perfect combination that suits the coffee beans you are currently using. In addition, it is important to regularly adjust the grinding degree based on the freshness of the beans, the humidity and the ambient temperature.
The most important thing here is that you always stick to the recipe of your espresso. I personally like to brew my espresso in a ratio of 1:2. This amounts to 19 grams of coffee for 38 grams of brewed espresso in a processing time of approximately 28 seconds.
If your coffee runs through faster than 28 seconds, set the grind finer, so that the water takes longer to run through the coffee and you get closer to your recipe. If it takes longer than 28 seconds, set the grinding degree a bit coarser, so that it flows through the coffee a bit more easily and you get closer to your desired throughput time.
Once you have found the right grind size, it is also important to pay attention to the dosage. Use the correct amount of coffee per shot and make sure that the coffee is evenly distributed in the portafilter. This ensures that the water flows evenly through the coffee and a balanced extraction is achieved, resulting in an espresso with a full flavor & aroma and an award-winning crema layer.
Not maintaining your machine regularly
An espresso machine needs regular maintenance to keep functioning optimally. Not maintaining your espresso machine can make your coffee taste less good. If you do not clean the machine regularly, coffee residues and oils can remain in the pipes and on the parts of the machine. This can lead to blockages and a bad taste of your coffee. In addition to affecting the taste of your coffee, not descaling your machine can lead to calcification of the pipes, which can lead to blockages and damage to the machine.
To prevent these problems, it is important to clean and descale your espresso machine regularly. This can be done, for example, by rinsing the machine with water after each use, and by regularly cleaning the filters and the portafilter.
Periodically it is important to clean your machine with special cleaning agents to clean and descale the machine properly. By properly maintaining your espresso machine, you can ensure that your coffee always remains of good quality and that your machine lasts longer.
Do you have a Sage coffee machine? Then read our Sage maintenance manual: How do I clean my Sage Coffee Machine.
In this article I discuss the 5 most common beginners mistakes when making an espresso. A brief summary below so that you never have to make a bad espresso again!
1. Old coffee beans
The first and most important mistake is using old coffee beans, which will negatively affect the taste and aroma of the espresso.
2. Improper tamping technique
It is also important to use the correct tamping technique to get a good result.
3. The wrong brew ratio or recipe
Another common mistake is not using the correct brewing ratio between the amount of ground coffee and the amount of espresso you ultimately want. It is also important to adjust the brewing ratio to the type of coffee and your own taste preferences.
4. The wrong grind
A grind that is too coarse or too fine will have a negative impact on your espresso. So play with your grind size so that your espresso becomes spot on.
5. Not regularly maintaining your espresso machine
Finally, it is important to regularly maintain the espresso machine to ensure the quality of the espresso.
By avoiding these mistakes, you can enjoy a perfect espresso with a delicious aroma and full body.