The name says all: an espresso is to be freshly prepared and enjoyed immediately. Expressly.
For coffee purists, espresso is the quintessential coffee preparation – rich, aromatic and velvety all at once; a natural layer of crema on top belying a full-bodied, yet deftly balanced liquid below. When ideally realized, a small miracle of chemistry and physics: science and art gliding together on air.
Espresso’s authentic formula is clear and basic, its proper execution a matter of training, experience and natural talent. A jet of hot water at 88°-93°C (190°-200°F) passes under a pressure of nine or more atmospheres through a seven-gram (.25 oz) cake-like layer of ground and tamped coffee. Done right, the result is a concentrate of not more than 30 ml (one oz) of pure sensorial pleasure.
Authentic espresso preparation ideally starts by freshly grinding beans perfected for this purest of methods. The art of the barista is to calibrate the grind, expertly tamp just the right amount of coffee into the filter, then keep close watch on time, temperature and pressure. Even today’s advanced, automatic machines require proper vigilance; perfection hangs in the balance.
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