How to Pull a Perfect Shot of Espresso

There’s nothing worse than going to a renowned coffee shop only to receive an espresso drink that’s bitter and undrinkable. Poorly made espresso-based drinks are more common than you might think. Even the best beans, espresso machine, and grinder can’t guarantee a good shot of espresso.

Slayer Espresso

A big challenge for cafe managers and owners is getting their large team of baristas to make good-tasting espresso. A lot of newbie baristas don’t know what to look for when dialing in espresso and lack the confidence to calibrate it.  This is why we offer complimentary ongoing training and consultation for our wholesales clients.

By putting certain practises in place, you can show your whole team how to pull a perfect shot of espresso. First, we’ll show you how to lead an espresso tasting session with a team of baristas. Then, we’ll show you how to ensure the espresso is always running well.

The building blocks of good espresso

It may sound obvious, but you need to start with great coffee and great equipment to make great espresso. Make sure you have all of these in place first before you troubleshoot your espresso.

Make sure to source roasted beans from a high-quality, specialty coffee roaster. They should have an emphasis on ethical sourcing, meticulous roasting, and freshness.

A high-quality espresso machine with enough pressure and stamina is crucial for great espresso. We recommend the Slayer espresso machine, which was produced by the fine folks here at Fratello!

A good espresso grinder allows you to micro-adjust the grind setting. It should have a timed doser to provide consistency. We recommend Mahlkonig espresso grinders. 

If you have all of that already, let’s get into it!

coffee grinder

Leading an espresso tasting with your team

It’s always a good idea to do an espresso tasting session with your team. This allows you to answer any questions and try different espresso shots side-by-side for comparison. When guiding your team through a tasting, here are some common things to look for.

While not all coffees have a sweet profile, you should aim for a sweet shot. Sweetness is detected on the tip of the tongue. Unlike an unpleasant sour flavour, you’re looking for a sweetness akin to fruit or sugar.

A good shot of espresso should never taste unpleasantly bitter or sour. You can assess this more broadly when you try the espresso by asking yourself, “Is this pleasant?” “Is this acceptable to serve?”

Bitter and sour notes can be part of the inherent flavour profile of the coffee, like rich cocoa and lemon. Don’t get confused by desirable flavour attributes. 

Get your team familiar with the flavour wheel. It’s not cheating to fill your head with all the possibilities of what coffee can taste like. It helps your team by giving them a vocabulary to describe coffee.

TIP: It’s easier for newbie baristas to taste coffee that’s cooled down and/or diluted with a bit of water.

cappuccino

Creating an espresso calibration system

After you’ve done your initial group tasting session with your team, it’s time to create a calibration system.

The best way to calibrate espresso is by tasting it and adjusting it as needed. However, most newbie baristas won’t have the skills or the confidence to do this. This method also takes more time, and when you’re trying to move a lineup, it isn’t practical. A calibration system is easy-to-follow, keeps your coffee tasting great at all times, and doesn’t disrupt your flow.

Not all coffee is the same, but as a general rule of thumb, there’s a certain espresso recipe to follow. When it comes to brewing parameters for espresso, you want to start with a dry weight of 18 grams, a wet weight of 36 grams (ie. actual brewed espresso), and a brew time of 28-30 seconds. If you brew your espresso and it doesn’t fit within these confines, you can tweak the dose and the grind setting of the coffee.

perfect espresso

How to pull a perfect shot of espresso, step-by-step:

  1. Pop the basket out of the portafilter, and zero it out on a digital scale. Grind your beans from your timed espresso grinder, and weigh it. If it weighs below 18 grams, increase your dose by a few milliseconds. If it weighs above 18 grams, decrease your dose. Don’t worry if you’re off by 0.5 grams.
  2. Once you have the right weight, evenly tamp your espresso with 30 lbs of pressure.
  3. Have a timer ready to countdown from 30 seconds. Grab a clean shot glass or mini metal pitcher, place it on the scale, and zero it out.
  4. Place the scale and the glass under the group head, and begin brewing your espresso. Immediately start your 30-second timer. 
  5. At the 30-second mark, stop the shot and read the wet weight on the scale. If the wet weight isn’t 36 grams, make some changes and start over. If the wet weight is below 36 grams, make your grind coarser. If it’s above 36 grams, make your grind finer.

Make sure to post the espresso parameters (ie. dry weight, wet weight, brew time) where staff can see it. Have your team calibrate the espresso several times a day: once first thing in the morning, at mid-morning, and in the afternoon. For accountability, you can set up a checklist on a marker board, and have staff initial their calibrations.

Other factors affecting espresso flavour

Getting the right dose and weight is important when making good espresso, but it’s not the only thing to be aware of. Other things greatly affect the flavour of espresso. Here are some common factors:

Make sure your team is tamping properly. An uneven tamp or a cracked puck can result in uneven extraction, and thus, a sour, undrinkable espresso. Check out this video to make sure your team isn’t committing any tamping faux-pas!

 

The temperature and humidity in your cafe can instantly change how your espresso pours. If the weather suddenly changes from rainy and cold to sunny and warm, recalibrate your espresso.

A dirty espresso machine can make your coffee taste off if you’re doing everything else right. Make sure your team is cleaning the espresso machine and portafilters every night with Cafiza. Additionally, make sure your team is wiping the portafilter baskets with a dry rag between espressos. Have them purge the group heads between pours, too.

Fratello Coffee

Give it your best shot

Espresso can be intimidating for new baristas who lack skills and confidence. You can’t expect them to know everything right off the bat. The more effort you put into standards and procedures, the more likely it is that your team will get on board.

It doesn’t take long to gain a reputation as a no-fail, sure-shot espresso bar. Before long, your customers will notice, and they’ll be lining up for more. So do a little planning, schedule that espresso tasting with your team, and knock it out of the park!

We know that espresso can be a complicated beast. With decades of experience in the specialty coffee world, we have all the tools to make your cafe a success. Book a consultation call with us by emailing us at . We’re here to help!





Espresso & Coffee Machines in Calgary and Edmonton

Since 1991, we have been importing Nuova Simonelli espresso equipment from Italy, as well as a selection of other commercial coffee equipment.   Our core business is roasting and supplying coffee houses and new cafes in Calgary and Edmonton with the training and consultation they need to run a successful business.  We are eager to work with people that share our dedication to coffee.

Aurelia Nuova Simonelli 2 group

We want to share our passion with you and help you learn to present coffee at its finest in your business.  Fratello has been roasting coffee for over 27 years, but we are more than just a coffee roaster. Our consultants are experienced professionals that will guide you in all aspects of your business.   From initial consultations around opening a new location to getting into the details of selecting products and equipment for your business, you will have access to our team of coffee professionals.

Fratello Coffee Roasters has made the choice to represent a select group of top quality equipment for your coffee hourse or restaurant.   In stocking brands we know and trust, we are able to offer expert service and advice as you look at setting up a new business and cafe, or replacing equipment as needed.

Fetco brewer

From your large equipment needs such as an espresso machine, coffee brewers and grinders right down to the details, we offer the right products.  Please browse our commercial equipment section to get an idea of the range of products offered.   We look forward to meeting you to offer a personal consultation.

We know the best coffee needs the best people and the right equipment. Call us today for more information.

 

2012 Prairie Coffee Show and Barista Competition

We are very proud to announce the 2012 Prairie Coffee Show - July 13th to 16th.  This year, Fratello Coffee Roasters, Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters and Transcend Coffee are taking the event to the next level.   We listened to the feedback from last year and will be expanding on the very popular customer workshops.  We also took a big step and will be taking the opportunity to bring industry folks from across the prairies and creating a forum for sharing of ideas and collaboration.

We are proud to announce that Steve Leighton of Hasbean Coffee (all the way from Stafford, UK) will be leading our industry forum.  Steve is one of the most respected coffee guys, and besides running a successful coffee roasting business, he also has a great blog (www.hasblog.co.uk), a fun and informative video coffee tasting blog called “In my mug” (www.inmymug.com) and is one of the co-creators of Tamper Tantrum - a series of on-going talks by various industry members - recorded and made public for everyone’s benefit, see more atwww.tampertantrum.com.  We are extremely grateful that Steve made time out of his busy schedule to come and lead our industry forum.   The details of the Forum are as follows:

APPEALING TO THE AVERAGE CONSUMER
Brent Fortune, Coffee Common
Discussion on Coffee Common's approach to reaching customers, what's worked, what hasn't.
Focus on connecting with customers and engaging them on an approachable level.

SERVICE - STOP TALKING AND START LISTENING
Steve Leighton, Hasbean Coffee
Presentation on how the modern day coffee shop has forgotten to listen to its most valuable assets..

RUNNING A SUCCESSFUL BY-THE-CUP PROGRAM (Round-table)
Phil Robertson, Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters
Russ Prefontaine, Fratello Coffee Roasters
Poul Mark, Transcend Coffee
Discuss various perspectives of what works and what doesn't.  Try to answer the question: can it be done?

REAL INNOVATION IN SPECIALTY COFFEE
Steve Leighton, Hasbean Coffee
A presentation on what "real" innovation is in the specialty industry, and not the elephants in the room.

PRICING, PROFIT AND SUSTAINABILITY OF QUALITY (Round-table)
Steve Leighton, Hasbean Coffee
Sebastian Sztabzyb, Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters
David Crosby, Caffe Rosso
Chris Prefontaine, Fratello Coffee Roasters
Pricing retail can be tricky: incumbents have setup price barriers and the cost of top quality green is increasing, so how to we create sustainability?

Finally, in an effort to build and strengthen the prairie region barista community, we will be hosting barista workshops led our past two Canadian Barista Champions: Rob Kettner 2010 and Josh Hockin 2011.

We are also honored to be welcoming back Brent Fortune of Coffee Common for the very popular coffee workshops, except they will not be workshops.  Instead of class-style demonstrations, we are going to have hands-on brewing and tasting stations, allowing you to brew your coffee alongside an experienced barista.  This interactive hands-on style worked very well in the Coffee Common NYC Pop-up this past January.

Opening a new cafe in Calgary or Edmonton? Need help or cafe consultation?

We are eager to work with people that share our dedication to coffee.  We want to share our passion with you and help you learn to present coffee at its finest in your business.

Latte art training

Fratello has been roasting coffee for over 25 years, but we are more than just a coffee roaster. Our consultants are experienced professionals that will guide you in all aspects of your business. From initial consultations around opening a new location to getting into the details of selecting products and equipment for your business, you have access to our team of coffee professionals through every stage of your investigative/planning stages......and this is all included when you choose to work with us!

One of our consultants will meet with you to discuss all aspects of your coffee program. We will work with you to recommend the right coffee, the right equipment and the right training. From sourcing great coffee to understanding how to store it best, to roasting fresh on demand and showing you how to prepare it right, we are here for you at every step.

espresso grinder

Our professional consultants draw from backgrounds mixing business experience and an intense passion for coffee. During the consulting process, we get to know your prospective or existing business, what customers you are looking to attract and how you want to prepare the coffee. We will show you the equipment options and advise you on what will be best for your space and expected volume.

Fratello has/does compete locally and nationally at coffee competitions and uses this experience in training our accounts on barista skills. For local accounts we will work with you both at our training area at Fratello and in your business in all aspects of beverage preparation.

We offer on-going training and support including areas such as latte art and alternative ways to prepare coffee by the cup in your café or restaurant. This training is included as part of your relationship with Fratello.

We are much more than just a coffee roaster.  We are a trusted team of coffee professionals that are here to share our extensive experience with you.

Hario V60 pour over Coffee, a brewing guide

The Hario V60 O2 pour over dripper is our preferred method of brewing coffee at Fratello's Analog Cafe.

The manual brewing process allows our barista to have complete control over the brew speed and ensure proper ground saturation. The slower extraction time lends to a much sweeter and complex flavour in the cup than a traditional brewer.

It is very easy to use, so we put together this brewing guide to show you how you can use this in your cafe, home or work place. They are also VERY affordable.  You can find them on our store HERE.

Watch this short video that takes you through the steps to do this yourself.

Chemex coffee maker, a brewing guide

Using a Chemex is my personal favourite way to brew filtered coffee.  The slower extraction time lends to a much sweeter and complex flavour in the cup.  I find a more syrupy mouthfeel.  It is very easy to use, so we put together this brewing guide to show you how you can use this in your cafe, home or work place.

These are available to purchase on our store.

Watch this short video that takes you through the steps to do this yourself.

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Idle Tea Public Tasting Feb 24th 1:00-2:30 at Fratello Coffee

loose leaf tea

Fratello Coffee Roasters and Analog Cafe invite you to come taste our launching line-up of Idle Tea: Single Origin, Unblended, Fresh Crop tea sourced direct from gardens.

We welcome the public to Fratello Coffee Roasters Thursday Feb 24th at 1:00 to experience our seven carefully selected Idle Teas.

(more…)

Chemex, Hario V60, French Press and Aeropress oh my!

Please join us November 3rd 1-3pm at Fratello Coffee Roasters to explore 1 coffee brewed 4 ways!

chemex single serve coffee single serve coffee aeropress

single serve coffee french press single serve coffee hario v60

We are going to take our award winning Costa Rican Rio Jorco Direct Trade coffee and show you how to prepare it 4 different ways. This class is all about discovering some simple, easy but really great alternative ways of brewing coffee in your café or restaurant or at home. There will be a chance to taste the coffee, try the brew methods yourself and a contest thrown in as well to win an Aeropress brewer!

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Coffee Processing: What gives coffee unique flavors?

harvesting red coffee cherries

This is an interesting question, and one that does not have a quick answer.  I often compare coffee to wine as there are many comparables.  All bottles of red wine from Italy do not taste the same.  It is dependent on the vineyard, the grape (Merlot, etc..), the harvest, soil conditions, altitude, weather conditions of that particular harvest in that particular year, in that particular region.  All of this is also true with coffee.

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Chemex Coffee Brewing Guide

At the moment, everyone at Fratello Coffee seems excited about brewing coffee on a Chemex.  I'm loving the body and cleanliness that the Chemex produces.  It seems to extract a syrupy mouth-feel that I always love in coffee.

As you will see, a Chemex is easy to use and is also inexpensive to buy.

Want to brew great coffee at home?

Fratello has just begun selling two new coffee brewing devices which are now available on our on-line store.    The Chemex & Aeropress aren't new to the industry; however, are new to us.

Both of these devices brew coffee extremely well.  At the moment I'm really enjoying the Chemex.

I find that the extraction of this method brings out a syrup body and sweetness in the cup that is hard to match with other brewing methods.

This Aeropress is also very interesting.

This will certainly be my brew method of choice for when I'm traveling & camping.  It is fast, easy to use and requires very little clean up.  I get a very clean cup with this method of brewing and find it great with coffee that has a pronounced acidity.  (more…)

Chemex Coffee : Step by Step Brewing Guide

Brewing coffee with a Chemex is an easy and delicious way to make great pour-over coffee at home. The sleek, hourglass shape of the Chemex is designed to hold coffee grounds in the center and provide a more even extraction.

The Chemex uses a paper filter, which allows for the oils in the coffee beans to remain in the cup while removing sediment that can cause bitterness. The result is a full-bodied, flavourful brew with less acidity and without bitterness or sourness.

As you will see, a Chemex is easy to use.  Enjoy this step by step video.