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We always mention that making coffee is fun and not so complicated, with these 4 factors, we promise you it is not so daunting!
When one is looking to make coffee, especially for an espresso machine, we’ve mentioned how you can calibrate your coffee in 5 Minutes, but sometimes we tend to be overwhelmed on how to do it. We always imagine it to be some complicated science project but in fact, it is pretty simple, what you would want to understand is that coffee when brewed is in essence a resistance to water, what we mean is the resistance of allowing water to flow through the coffee grinds in an espresso machine. With these few factors in this write up, we believe it would be a good reference point to calibrate any coffee anywhere. Hint, this can also be loosely applied for manual hand brews too! All you need to do is understand the concept of these factors we will be exploring.
What this means is that when one is to adjust a coffee grinder, one will need to take note of the range of coarse to fine within one’s coffee grinder. This coupled with the fact that one will need to balance the amount of coffee used when brewing. It is a fine balance whereby some individuals and cafes in the market will need to understand and establish how much coffee is used which will also then dictate what is the grind size you will be using to best extract the coffee’s flavours.
Tamping is important simply because if done right, one will be able to achieve even extraction. Why this is such is because with uneven taping, and it being skewed to one side, the pressure of water that is gushing through from the machine will force and cause channeling, thus resulting in an uneven extraction and finally having an unpleasant cup of coffee. Aside from tamping at the right angle, it is also very important to understand the amount of pressure you tamp the coffee as this will also affect the compact puck at the end of each extraction. Coupled with tamping at an even angle to create an even bed, one needs to understand if you would need to press at a large force or not.
This factor will dictate how much coffee one would want to or need to use when extracting the flavours it has been mentioned on a bag or is expected from coffees with a particular processing method. Typically the rule of thumb is that when the coffee has aged to a certain extent, one would then need to use more coffee to extract more flavour. But with the other factors mentioned here, the balance will be needed between using more coffee to the size of grind and then the tamping of the coffee.
Pressure is something we can take note of but at the same time not stress too much on. Why this is said is dictated by the espresso machine one uses, in the industry - it is commonly known that each machine can go up to 12 bars or pressure, in the home set up, it would be anywhere between 6 to 9 bars of pressure. Fun fact, did you know that each car tyre is approximately 2 bars of pressure? So imagine the amount of force and pressure that is exerted when brewing your coffee! If your machine has been maintained well enough, remember that this is one constant that you will not need to monitor too closely. However if it is seen that the machine is not performing its best or that if your coffee extraction is not as smooth, perhaps it's time for a quick descaling or a simple backflush after the end of the day to maintain its longevity of the machine.
This too is very important! As we mentioned, the fineness of coffee will affect your brew due to the resistance it creates to water, the amount of coffee too in itself will be a key factor. For what we share and encourage is to use 18g’s of coffee at each brew, however do take note that for any coffee basket used, the amount of coffee is also limited to such. In some cafes and home use set up, you can find that a range of 14 - 21 grams of coffee is used at any one time. What we would recommend when using a home machine, is to understand what is the size of your coffee basket and when eliminating the need to constantly fiddle with that factor and perhaps look into your recipe and ratios.
As a whole, each and every one of these 5 factors are very much important! But worry not, when brewing your coffee, remember to adjust each factor one step at a time. When you know the machine has been well taken care of, it can be the last thing you look for, whilst at the same time, if you know you're purchasing coffee that has been pre grounded, then perhaps the things you will need to take note of is the angle to which you tamp the coffee, the amount of what you use and the age of the coffee. By understanding the machine and the factors to making it, it will ease your decision making process in what you will want to adjust in the long run. If you were to purchase your own grinder for instance, the grind size would and could be one of the latter factors to adjust being that the machine will take time to calibrate and grind the right size after adjustments. Here is a simple cheat sheet to which you can adjust your coffee. Remember to control what you can control if and when purchasing your beans and your respective tools, this will allow you to have a greater brewing experience as a whole.