If there's anything that coffee lovers should invest in, it's getting a good espresso machine. Not only does it provide you with enough controls to give you the perfect brew, but it also allows you to create a variety of coffee-based drinks to enjoy.
But with its seemingly complicated controls, a lot of new owners of espresso machines feel that it's not easy to operate. Fortunately, that is not the case at all. Most of today's new espresso machines are incredibly user-friendly, with controls and buttons that allow you to brew coffee within seconds.
Inside this article, we will explain to you How to use an espresso machine? We've also included a list of tips and notes that you can use to make the most of your machine and make sure that you take good care of it. Read on to find out more.
8 Step: How to Use an Espresso Machine
Espresso machines are not complicated machines. They come with labeled parts and buttons that display their functions. If anything, they're as easy to use as ordinary coffee makers, but with the added benefit of extra features for concocting more creative drinks.
If you're still not satisfied, read on to know more about How to Use an Espresso Machine?
Before anything else, make sure that your espresso machine's reservoir is filled with water. That is the part of the machine that holds water that will go into your drink. Most of today's compact espresso machines come with this reservoir - especially if it's making for personal use.
If you're using a more heavy-duty espresso machine, there's a chance that it allows you to connect directly to a water source. That is more convenient since you don't have to worry about running a machine with a reservoir that has gone dry.
As a reminder, always make sure that you're using portable water for your reservoir. Even if it goes through a boiling process, nevertheless, it gives you peace of mind that what you're drinking is safe for consumption.
Also, it's important to take note of the water levels in your reservoir. Most of these machines do not have a visible reservoir, so you have to monitor the water remaining inside. Otherwise, you risk having your espresso machine malfunction. And of course, don't forget to check the label to make sure that you're pouring in the amount that your machine can handle.
With the reservoir filled with water, you can now safely turn on your machine. Usually, there's a button or switch toggle that is appropriately labeled to easily let you know that it's for turning the machine on and off.
This is also the time when you can start preheating the espresso machine. But before doing so, make sure that the machine is ready for use. In most machines, you'll know because all of the buttons become illuminated. But since this varies from one manufacturer to another, it's best to consult the instruction manual that came with your machine.
Experts suggest that the ideal temperature for brewing that rich and flavorful shot of espresso is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, you might end up with sour or bitter shots - but that's not a problem if that's the taste you're going for.
At this point, you're now ready to prepare your portable filter. All espresso machines come with a portable filter, which is more popularly referred to as a portafilter, consisting of a handle, a brew basket, and a spigot.
Among these three components of the portafilter, you will keep working with the brew or shot basket. You have to remember that the size of this basket will depend on the type of shot you want to produce.
For example, a single shot basket is necessary for brewing a single shot of espresso, and a double shot basket for brewing a double shot of espresso. You can't use that interchangeably - otherwise, you risk producing a shot that's not right.
Thus, it's always important to take that extra step and make sure that you're using the right size of the shot basket before brewing.
Once you're sure of the shot basket size that you need, you can now proceed with filling it with espresso grounds. To make sure that you're using the freshest elements, it's best to grind the beans yourself.
Most of today's new espresso machines come with a built-in grinder, so you have to allow it to grind the powder straight into the portafilter.
On the other hand, if your machine doesn't have one, there are standalone coffee bean grinders that you can use. In this case, you can grind them directly into the portafilter and weigh them accordingly.
If you neither have a built-in grinder or a standalone grinder, you can always buy ground espresso or coffee beans. Purchasing these will save you the time from having to ground your beans. In this case, fill the portafilter to the brim with coffee grounds using a spoon. Flatten out the surface with your forefinger and wipe off any excess grounds around the filter.
Ideally, you have to weigh the coffee grounds that go into your portafilter. But the weight that you need depends on the shot of espresso you're trying to make. Experts say that the ideal range for creating the most flavorful shots is between 10 and 20 grams.
With the top of the portafilter leveled and its sides cleaned, you can now prepare to tamper it. But before doing so, you have to make sure that all espresso grounds equally distributed and that there are no empty places between them.
Once you're sure that the powder is entirely even out, you can now proceed with tampering it. A tamper is a tool you use to press down the coffee grounds to make them compact. Doing this is a crucial step in brewing espresso because it allows you to create strong flavors in every shot.
Using a tamper is quite tricky because you have to make sure that the surface leveled out in the end. That is not a problem if you're using a tamper that perfectly fits your portafilter's opening. On the other side, if you're using a smaller tamper, you have to make sure that the final output has an even surface.
As a tip, create a 90-degree angle with your arm to allow you to exert about 30 pounds of pressure as you tamper on the espresso grounds. To ensure that the grounds are compact, be sure to push as far down as the tamper can go.
After making sure that your grounds are lovely and compact with an even surface, you can now lock the portafilter back into place. To do so, you have to put it back onto the group head and twist until you hear a clicking noise, which signals that it's locked into place. Again, this varies from one manufacturer to another, so you have to check the manual to make sure.
With your machine properly set up, you can now place your cup or mug under the espresso machine's spout. Ensure that it's located in such a way that it would prevent spills to avoid any mess you have to clean up after. Also, double-check if your mug is big enough to catch all the espresso from the machine.
Once everything is in their proper places, you can now press the shot button. That will depend on what shot you want to brew - whether it's a single, double, or long shot.
Ensure that you select the shot type that corresponds with the size of the shot basket you used to produce the perfect shot of espresso.
While this is the common setup for most modern espresso machines, we note that there are some manual espresso machines where you have to hold the water-dense button to allow the water to flow. In case you own this kind of machine, hold the button down for about 35 to 40 seconds to produce around 2 ounces of espresso.
And with that, you already know how to use an espresso machine. You can now enjoy your hot and freshly-brewed espresso.
Making the Most of Your Machine
Owning an espresso machine allows you to create a variety of coffee-based drinks like cappuccino and latte. To make these drinks, you may have to invest in external tools like a steam wand and a milk jug.
A steam wand used to incorporate air into milk to make it thicker and create froth. Most heavy-duty or commercial espresso machines come with a steam wand, while other models require you to buy a separate one. If your machine doesn't have a steam wand, we highly recommend getting one to make the most out of your machine.
A tool that goes hand-in-hand with a steam wand is a milk jug. This jug is made of stainless steel material that you fill with milk to prepare it for steaming.
Taking Care of Your Machine
Most importantly, you have to know how to take proper care of your machine to prevent its malfunctioning and extend its life.
First of all, you should always consult the manual for any additional care tips. The manual will be your best friend when it comes to your espresso machine since it includes all the important information that you need to take care of your unit.
Second, make sure to clean your espresso machine before and after using it. This will guarantee that no drink will be contaminated by dirt or dust, even if you're confident that you stored it in a clean place.
And third, you have to make sure to clean the filters carefully. Some grinds may have settled inside the nook and crannies of the filter, which can cause bacteria to build up if overlooked.