Posted Sun Jun 3, 2012, 9:33am Subject: Re: Italian Style SIngle Shot Espresso
I've been brewing single shots for years, using a La Marzocco single basket, and my results are pretty consistent. I don't weigh the beans. I just grind them until there is a slight hump above the rim, then tamp. What I aim for is getting the right amount of coffee in the basket so that the imprint of the screen is clearly visible after I knock the puck out of the basket. I've never measured my tamp pressure on a bathroom scale, but it's fairly firm, and I make sure the tamp is level and smooth.
(I've never forgotten an analogy someone once used to describe the importance of a smooth tamp: That the water in an espresso machine is like a lazy child who is also very smart. If there is even a tiny pit in the surface, the water will find it and get through the coffee the easy way, which will give you bitter, weak coffee.)
For me the best shots are those that begin with just a few drips, then slowly form themselves into a straight and heavy mouse tail. Taking a page from Dr. John, I watch the mouse tail and stop the shot as soon as it begins to wiggle, which means I pull very short shots. But they're strong enough to hold up just fine, thank you, in a cappuccino. . . .
--Besides the ability to pressure profile. This is one of the reasons why I think levers are generally superior: no machine can massage my back as well as a human hand. There's intuitive sense there. Same with pulling shots.
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