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Coffee 102 with Wayne Archer

Coffee 102 with Wayne Archer

by Espresso Di Manfredi

This month Wayne provides his top tips for perfecting your espresso, including grinding, dosage and brewing.

  1. Select the right coffee: The blend you select should be suitable for the brewing process you are using. Light roasts are generally more acceptable to plunger, filter or syphon brewing. While darker roasts reduce the acidity level of espresso brews increasing the richness of flavour suitable for milk based drinks like café lattes and cappuccinos. Blend differences can have an impact on the taste of your coffee. Using a blend of 100% Arabica doesn’t necessarily mean you will have the best tasting coffee as some blends using high quality Robusta coffees can be more complex and balanced.
  2. Grinding: Use the right grind size for the brewing process! For Espresso, the grind should be set to deliver 25ml in 25 to 30 seconds.  For other brewing methods the rule is, the longer the contact time with water during brewing the coarser the grinding size needs to be. There are a few exceptions however, including Turkish and Greek coffee. Only grind as much as you are going to use. Another simple rule but important, fresh coffee contains lots of volatile aromas and flavours. You want to capture those and keep them in your cup.  Grind small quantities of coffee to brew at that time only and throw out any small quantity leftover. Coffee beans start to lose those volatile aromas soon after roasting. Good coffee is always packed to protect those flavours. When coffee beans are ground you are actually increasing the surface area and dramatically exposing a lot of broken cells to the air. This rapidly accelerates the staling process. The finer the grinding size the larger the surface area the speedier the staling process!
  3. Dosage: A very important factor. When brewing coffee at home do not skimp on the coffee per cup. Ignore those who suggest to you to use less coffee as they don’t like it too strong or bitter. Doing just that will deliver bitter harsh tasting coffee! The reason is all to do with achieving the correct extraction, dissolving the right flavours from the ground coffee. Too little coffee and you over extract resulting in poor flavour components being dissolved into your cup. In filter and plunger brews it’s better to use more coffee at a coarser grind to extract more aromatic coffee flavour! While in espresso optimal dosing of the port-a-filter is best, under dosing achieves under extract bitter tasting coffee.
  4. Water: Needless to say, if you wouldn’t drink the water don’t make coffee out of it! Fresh filtered water from your kitchen tap is perfect in most of Australia. Distilled water leaves your coffee tasting flat.
  5. Brewing temperature: Best temperatures for coffee range from 90C to 96C. Higher brewing temperatures can damage the flavour extracted from the grounds or extract too much. Lower temperatures only extract some of the desirable characteristics.