It’s Tuesday which means Pro-Tip by Alex Bernson!
For all you uber-coffeegeeks out there with an espresso machine in your kitchen, here’s a good way to get a handle on what baristas mean when they’re talking about a shot being “over-extracted” or “under-extracted”.Get ready to make a shot of espresso as you normally would, but get 3 demitasse cups ready.
Have an idea in your head of about how long your shots usually run seconds-wise. Start the shot going and put the first demitasse under the portafilter. A third of the way through the shot (~7seconds) pull the first cup away and put the second one under. Do the same at ~15s with the third cup.
The first cup will have a dark, dense look to it. If you taste it, it’ll be sour and maybe salty but also have some sweetness, caramel and dark fruit flavors. If your shots tend to taste too much like this you are “under-extracting”.
The second cup will be sweeter and have more of a smooth, round body. A good shot of espresso needs to have a lot of this middle sweetness.
The last cup will be more bitter and sharp. If your shots normally taste too much like this you are “over-extracting”.
Each of these cups will be pretty unpleasant by themselves, but they add up to a delicious shot of espresso when they are all in balance. If your shots are tasting under-extracted to you, try loosening your grind setting, and conversely, try tightening the grind if they taste over-extracted.
Be sure to tweet your thoughts and comments at @alexbernson!