How To Make Real Espresso From A 60 Dollar Plastic Toy
Being that it is Labor Day and what I’ve done is nothing amazingly exciting, I’ll be keeping this post short. I have to tell you though: I’m really excited.
I’ve been a caffeine junkie for quite some time, mostly in the form of energy concoctions based upon what I’ve learned about nootropics and stimulants. After a short romance with matè I’ve become quite enamored with coffee, or more specifically, the romance of and OCD required for pulling a great shot of espresso. What started off with a Hamilton Beach espresso maker has turned into a Franken-toy capable of pulling better shots than all but one coffee shop in town.
While my machine could pull an OK shot when I first started with it, I found my grinder to be inadequate for the job, which necessitated the purchase of a Vaneli Mini Pro II. The grinder is often said to be the most important part of making great espresso.
Notice the massive box with the red lights on the side of the machine? That’s my housing for a PID controller that I cobbled together from various sources. Most of my directions came from Murph’s Silvia PID page and my inspiration came from the Silk Purse Espresso page. Simply, a PID allows a snap-action boiler, like mine, to maintain a consistent temperature, which is the holy grail of consistent espresso shots. Because I bought the cheap Chinese controller, I keep the temperature setting in Celsius, as I’ve read it just works “better.”
A good shot of espresso should pour like warm honey and fill the cup as mostly crema. So the shot I pulled was pretty decent:
Notice how there is no bottom on my portafilter? I cut the damn thing off so that I can monitor the consistency of my tamp technique. This is quite easy to do with a hole saw.
After ~1 minute, the crema had settled to this:
So that’s what I did with my Labor Day Weekend. What about you?