Espresso is not only a drink on its own, but it is also a base for numerous popular coffee drinks such as cappuccino. Espresso is a strong and highly-concentrated coffee that can be made either with an espresso machine or a stove top espresso maker. When properly brewed, the espresso will have a heavy body along with a thick, golden-brown crema (foam) on the surface and if you add sugar, it will float on the surface for a couple of seconds before slowly sinking. A single shot of espresso is approximately 1 to 1 ½ ounces of coffee.
Making espresso is a bit of an art form. The taste will vary based on the coffee beans used, the quality of the grind, the amount of coffee used, the tamping (packing of the coffee), and the amount of time taken for the coffee to pour. When brewing your own espresso, don’t hesitate to experiment to adjust to your preferences.
Select a coffee bean and make sure that it has a fine grind for an espresso machine or stove top espresso maker. Coarse coffee will allow the water to go through the coffee too fast and will not extract the nectar from the coffee. If the coffee is ground too fine the water will not be able to travel through the grounds properly. You can buy pre-ground coffee to get an idea of what is correct if you are unsure.
After filling the basket with coffee, you will want to tamp down the coffee correctly. This is another one of those steps that a little experimentation is needed. If the coffee is tamped too hard water will not flow through. If it is not tamped hard enough the water will run through the grounds too quickly. Every machine is a little different and you should experiment. In general, two one-ounce shot glasses should take roughly between 12 to 18 seconds to fill. If it takes longer, you should tamp less hard next time.