Sunday, 12 October 2008

Guidelines for getting the best out of your Londinium coffee

We deliberately haven't called them instructions as we don't know what equipment you might be using, your level of experience, or indeed how you like your coffee to taste, so they we have used the somewhat more flexible term; 'guidelines'.

To those customers who have been forced to contact us in desperation please accept our apologies as we have been lax in not publishing any guidelines before now

Feel free to experiment, or indeed ignore completely if you aren't new to the espresso game.

For example, some Antipodean baristas will be found grinding more coarsely and using all manner of brute force on the tamp to jam in as much as 23g of coffee in a double basket. This is equally valid, just a different style.

Oh, and while we are on the subject of dose weights, if you are wondering why the coffee tastes so grim at your local cafe one of the reasons is likely to be low dose weight. It is not uncommon in for cafes lacking a specific interest in coffee to wind the shot dose down to 5.5 or even 5.0g per shot. This basically results in too much being taken from the coffee (another form of over-extraction if you like), and unsurprisingly their commitment to thrift results in you struggling to finish another disgusting espresso that is burnt and bitter.

1. We suggest 8g of ground coffee for a single shot and 16g for a double shot. These weights are important so verify with fine scales

2. One shot is approx 30ml, two shots 60ml. These volumes are important so calibrate your coffee cup(s) with measuring spoons or similar

3. You need a good burr grinder for espresso (i.e. not a blade grinder)

4. You want an extraction time of 22 to 25 seconds. If you are outside of this range we suggest that you keep the pressure on the tamp constant and only vary the setting of your grinder (finer if your extraction times are less than 22s and coarser if your extraction times are greater than 25s)

5. As an aside, we prefer to grind fine & tamp lightly, as opposed to grinding coarsely and tamping heavy

6. Once you have achieved (1) & (2) above you should find yourself with a deep (at least 3mm) crema with fine bubbles (only visible across strong light) and a lovely golden colour

7. A whitish crema indicates under-extraction, and extraction times less than 20s. The espresso will be watery, the crema thin and lacking density

8. A brown crema indicates over-extraction, and extraction times over 30s. The espresso will be very unpleasant to taste, and will often have a light white spot on the brown crema that appears right at the end of the extraction

9. Note that a variation in atmospheric conditions will necessitate making very fine adjustments to your grinder throughout the day

Let us know if you are still having trouble!

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