The Five Elements for Good Espresso

In Italy there is a traditional rule, known as the five M’s, which all must be achieved to make good espresso.

1. Miscela (Espresso Blend)

Whilst it is possible to make a bad espresso using a good blend, it is impossible to make a good espresso using a bad blend. The exact blend you choose is purely down to personal taste but you should use coffee which is:

a) fresh and;

b) of high quality.

Coffee oxidizes in air and quickly changes taste, so coffee you use should be recently roasted and kept in an airtight container. A word of warning though: coffee can be too fresh. If you try and make an espresso with coffee roasted less than 48 hours ago you may produce a shot with tons of crema which quickly dissipates. This is because the coffee is still ommiting too much CO2 as a result of the roasting process.

The espresso blend should use high quality beans. However, this does not mean that the blend needs to be 100% arabica. Traditionally, espresso blends from Northern Italy contain a small percentage of high quality robusta beans. Robusta can add character to a blend if used sparingly, giving it that bit of extra zing.

2. Macinadosatore (Grinder)

To make good espresso you need a good coffee grinder. Concical burr grinders are regarded as the best as they operate at lower speeds, which reduce the amount of heat created, and so are less damaging to the flavour of the coffee.

The most important aspect of a good coffee grinder is its ability to make very small changes to the coarseness of the grind. The perfect espresso takes 25-30 seconds to make. It is the job of the grinder to control the flow rate of the espresso through adjusting the grind. If the espresso is coming out too fast the grind needs to be finer. If it is coming out too slow then the grind needs to be coarser.

Finally, for the best results, the coffee should be ground immediately before use as once ground, it has a larger surface area and so is more vunerable to oxidization.

3. Macchina Espresso (Espresso Machine)

A good espresso machine is not necessarily needed to make good espresso. However, if you want consistantly good shots you need a good machine. You see for the perfect espresso you need to have your machine at the right temperature and pressure. With a cheap machine there is too much variation and so you have to rely on a bit of luck to get good results.

4. Mano dell’operatore (Skill of the User)

You do not have to be World Barista Champion to make good espresso.
Once you have learned the basics it is just a case of lots of practice and experimenting.

5. Manutenzione (Maintenance)

This M is often overlooked. Your espresso machine and grinder must be cleaned regularly not only to prolong their life but also to keep them producing good espresso. Afterall, there is no point putting fresh coffee through your coffee grinder if it has leftover grounds from previous grinds in it, as these are going to contaminate the fresh coffee and impart a stale and rancid taste on your espresso.

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About The Author, James Grierson
James Grierson is the owner of Galla Coffee: <a href=""></a> - UK online retailer of designer coffee accessories.
Through the Coffee Knowledge section of his website he aims to help people understand more about coffee and give them tips on how to make great tasting coffee in their home.

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