Preparing and enjoying an espresso is an art, a lifestyle and a vivid aesthetic ritual. It’s like appreciating a beautiful piece of music. The only thing that matters at this very moment is the act of enjoying the espresso drink.
I noticed that many coffee-shops in Europe – including some famous ones – offer shots of ‘Espresso’ that are in fact ‘Ristretto’ shots. A Ristretto shot has approximately half of the size of an Espresso shot. These coffee-shops should correct their menu to avoid misunderstandings between the baristas and their customers. After all, who wants disappointed customers?
- Brewing time for a standard 30ml (1.01 ounce) cup of Espresso should be 25 to 30 seconds.
- Water temperature should be 90-95 degrees Celsius.
- The freshly grinded coffee beans should be used within 10 minutes.
- Brewing time up to 20 seconds for a standard 18 to 20ml (minimum 15ml) cup of Ristretto.
These are the rules for an Italian style Espresso.
Many Italians use the term Espresso only as an official or technical name. In everyday life, the term Caffè is used by most Italians.
Nowadays, when you order an Espresso, many European coffee-shops, will offer you a 20ml – 23ml coffee shot, made from 14-22g of coffee beans, with a double-portafilter that is used for two Espresso drinks. The shot takes 25-36 seconds. This drink is not a real Espresso! It’s a new drink, which does not have it’s own name yet. Based on its preparation procedure, it should be rather called a Ristretto or double Ristretto.
Espresso lovers usually have a clear idea about their drinking ritual: a small, heavy cup that is filled with a dark, syrupy, full-bodied coffee shot, topped by light brown- colored layer of foam called ‘crema’ – an indication of freshly grinded quality beans. The espresso drink is served with a small glass of fresh water. Espresso lovers drink it before they enjoy the espresso. They use it to clean their mouth and to prepare their taste-buds.
Making a cup of espresso is also a science based on a particular procedure: hot, pressurized water is forced through fine coffee grounds. If we do not follow the precise preparation rules that had been established by Italian coffee lovers over many decades, we can not call the coffee drink an espresso.
How to do?
According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America an espresso is “a 25 – 35 ml beverage prepared from 7-9 grams of coffee through which clean water of 92°-95°C has been forced at 9-10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brewing ‘flow’ time is approximately 20-30 seconds.”
The coffee bean: water ratio, as per traditional Italian espresso nomenclature, is – 1:2 to 1:3.
Manual espresso machines are more traditional than the automatic one.