Coffee 101: Basic Espresso Preparation Guide
Brewing great espresso may take a little practice to master, and will definitely take some experimentation, which is all part of the fun and learning process. Grind, weight and time are key factors when achieving a good shot of espresso. however, water, coffee, and equipment quality also play a vital part. We recommend using a coffee that is roasted for espresso use. In our store, we have coffees roasted specifically for espresso (single, doppio) and milk base (cappuccinos, lattes, etc.). We also use a 1:2 dose to yield ratio as a guide which can be altered based on the taste you are aiming at. One should consider basket size, type of coffee, drink to be made and how many days the coffee is off the roast in determining your ideal ratio. For us, we use a lesser dose of 15 to 17 grams for our straight espresso and 18 to 20 grams for our milk-based drinks.
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Coffee Storage: How to keep my freshly roasted coffee fresh?
You bought a wonderful, freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee with all these amazing notes for you to brew at home. But how will you prolong it’s flavor?
Ageing in coffee and almost in everything is inevitable. When coffee is roasted it undergoes chemical reactions that transforms a green coffee to a parcel of flavors. However, while roasting changes their flavor it also changes their chemical composition, sugar is broken down into a variety of compounds and one of them is carbon dioxide which most of us are familiar via the term degassing or the process of allowing carbon dioxide trapped inside the coffee to gradually leach out or escapes, a little loss of carbon dioxide is good especially on espresso brewing (this are the ones that forms your crema, that is why very fresh coffees tend to have more crema hence it’s more bitter) but as coffee loses carbon dioxide it also starts to taste dull or weak.
James Hoffman stated in his book The World Atlas of Coffee that coffee undergoes two stages when going stale “The first is the slow but steady loss of aromatic compounds, the compounds that give coffee its flavor and smell,” in turn making it “less interesting.” This is inevitable not only for coffee but in any perishable stuff, although we can delay it. (i.e. freezing-I’ll explain later)
The second stage is thru oxygen and moisture. Most of us are aware that coffee’s main antagonists are oxygen and moisture and exposure to these two will make it stale and develop new flavors-those floral & fruity notes will be flat & woody in most occasions. This however is controllable, that why most coffee packaging has a one-way valve that allows carbon dioxide to exit but prevents oxygen from entering.
Now with all these are said, how should you store them? Other than oxygen and moisture, heat is another variable to take into consideration and coffee bags aren’t heat resistant. Keeping it in a cool, dry place- preferably into your cupboards is a general way, coffee canisters are also going into popularity with brands like Fellow and Airscape as the popular choice. Coffee canisters range from airtight and/or vacuum sealed ones, some are also heat-resistant and are made from either plastic, stainless steel or glass.
Earlier I said that ageing of coffee is inevitable but can be delayed. And one of those ways is by freezing, let us say for example your favorite coffee from your favorite roaster is already their last batch and its seasonal. So, you bought 2 kilos of those coffee and obviously you won’t finish that in a month. As we all know, the shelf life of freshly roasted coffee is up to a month after roasting, in general.
And after that it slowly loses flavor, as per Scott Rao’s The Professional Barista’s Handbook “Freezing works as a long-term storage method because oxidation rates are reduced by fifteen-fold and the coffee oil congeals, greatly reducing the movement of volatiles. Additionally, the scant moisture in roasted beans is bound to the matrix polymer, and therefore non-freezable.”
While this is a widely debatable matter, I strongly believe that properly freezing your coffee works. A few years back, I was discussing the same topic with my peers and decided to try it. I placed 250 grams of fresh coffee that is already rested in an airtight container and place it in a freezer for 2 months, the plan is to taste it together with a fresh and rested coffee of the same origin.
So, the night before the test, I took it out of the freezer and let it sit on room temperature. The following day I let my peers taste the coffee blindly and they can hardly tell the difference. Freezing works if done properly, place your coffee in an airtight container and freeze your coffee in portions so that you only defrost what you will use the next day. Never refreeze a defrosted or thawed portion.
I suggest that whenever possible, only purchase a quantity that you can consume and portioning helps it from coming in contact with oxygen. Regardless of what storage you choose, the aim should be prolonging the freshness of your coffee and limiting waste.
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