Perfect coffee & cappuccino

Secrets of espresso

Italian espresso has cream with a hazlenut colour, tending to dark brown and distinct from tawny reflexes. This cream has a very fine texture, with an absence of large mesh and larger or smaller bubbles. There is an intense aroma with hints of flowers, fruit, toast and chocolate, all feelings that are sensed even after swallowing. This aroma lasts for tens of seconds, sometimes minutes. The taste is round, firm and smooth; sour and bitter are balanced without any prevalence of one over the other with little to no sharpness. It is essential to start with a suitable blend, processed by a proper grinder and a proper coffee machine with some important parameters: 

- Roasting Grade: Medium
- Single dosage: 7 gr
- Pressure: 20 Kg
- Water hardness: 6° Fr.
- Water temperature of coffee group: 92°C
- Water pressure: 9-12 bar
- Millilitres per cup (including crema): 25 ml
- Extration time: 25"
- Temperature of beverage in the cup: 67° 
- Cup temperature: 40°C 

Mistakes to Avoid

Overextracted Coffee: 
The crema is very dark brown, with black patches or residue in the middle. It is weak and tends to retreat quickly to the edge forming a black ring. The taste is bitter, strong, woody, astringent and has very little aroma. 
What causes overextraction?
- Doses over 7 g
- Fine grinds
- Pressing too hard
- Water temperature above 92 ° C
- Pump pressure exceeding 10 bar
- Long extraction times (more than 35 seconds)

Under-extracted coffee: 
The crema is light, loosely knit, watery and tends to disappear quickly. The body is nonexistent, there is little aroma; it is light. 
What causes underextraction?
- Doses less than 6 g
- Coarse grinds
- Slight or no pressure
- Water temperature below 88 ° C
- Extraction time less than 20 seconds

The Cup
The proper characteristics of an espresso cup

Material:
 Hard porcelain is the best material, as it ensures good heat conduction, excellent resistance to thermal shock and to impact, good hygiene and a shine.
Shape: A large cube shape will “break “ the creaminess of the espresso; a conical or concave form with a rounded base but without a large top, increases the persistence of the crema.
Width: Used to calibrate the temperature of the extract. It should be wide at the base to thin at the edge, so as to provide a pleasant sensation on contact with the lips.
Volume: The correct cup size is around 60 ml, for 20-25 ml of espresso.
Handle: Should be a comfortable with a practical grip.
Temperature: The cup must be dry and hot (around 40 ° C) to longer maintain the espresso's cohesion, temperature, and color of the crema.
Color: A translucent white color is more appropriate because it facilitates appraisal of the espresso and brings out its characteristics

Tamper

Tampering is an important stage in the preparation of a good cup of espresso, since it needs to guarantee the correct resistance to the passage of water.tamper is therefore an important tool it needs to press the coffee powder down in a consistent, even manner.
A tamper has four important characteristics:
-Balanced weight: a good tamper needs to have a correctly balanced weight with a very low centre of gravity
- Material: it needs to guarantee the correct robustness and coffee powder should not stick to it 
- Shape and size:  the shape and lower diameter of the press need to be in line with the type of filter being used
- Ergonomic:  the handgrip needs to guarantee on one hand, a firm and comfortable grip and on the other, make it easy to press down; the mushroom shape is the most effective.

Perfect cappuccinos

To prepare a tasty, fragrant cappuccino, the important thing is to start out with the right ingredients.

INGREDIENTS

1: Milk - it is best to use full-fat fresh milk. The high fat content (3.5-4%) in full-fat milk contributes to the flavour of the cappuccino. To achieve a good level of foam, it is best to use milk with a high protein content (3.2-3.5%) since this contributes to the creamy texture.
2: Jug - stainless steel and not too thick so as to be able to feel the temperature inside. The ideal shape is a truncated cone. The jug ought to be proportionate to the amount of milk to be heated.
3: Machine - to create the perfect foam you need dry steam; the end of the steam wand should have calibrated holes and an angle of 40-45°C to aid the circular movement of the milk, which is necessary if the result is to be compact foam 

FIRST STAGES

1: It is best to foam the milk before preparing the espresso.
2: Pour the cold milk into the jug, to 1/3 (max 1/2) of its height.
3: Use the steam wand on its own for a few seconds to eliminate any water residues that may have been left inside due to
condensation.

MILK FOAMING PROCESS

Stage 1: in this stage, air is injected inside the jug. For this purpose, the wand is immersed as far as the surface of the milk and the steam jet s switched on. Gradually, the foam that forms will increase the level of the milk inside the jug. At this point, it is necessary to lower the jug slowly, keeping the tip of the wand inside the milk. This first stage is complete with the temperature of the milk is 35-37°C; if there is no thermometer, it is possible to notice it as being when the temperature of the jug begins to exceed that of the hand, meaning you will start to feel a little heat.
Stage 2: this stage, which is important for compacting the foam and to give it its fine texture and surface sheen. Continuing to keep the wand immersed in the milk, tilt the jug slightly (see figure) to create a vortex in which the milk rotates quickly. Switch off the steam when the milk reaches a temperature of 65-67°C. If there is no thermometer, this corresponds to the moment when the jug becomes too cold to be held.
Stage 3: once the jug has been taken away from the wand, clean the wand with a damp cloth and then dispense a jet of steam to eliminate any internal residues.

DECORATING

1: While you leave the milk to stand for a few seconds, pour the espresso. The amount of coffee should cover 1/3 of the cup volume, while the remaining 2/3 should be made up of milk and foam in equal parts.
2: To compact the foam and eliminate any residual air bubbles, move the jug so that its contents are rotated quickly and you have a thick foam that is shiny of the surface.
3: At this point, you can create your decorations: pour the milk in the cup, modulating the flow (more intense at the beginning) and moving the cup to create your design of choice.

The art of making cappuccino from elektro's on Vimeo.