In home training manual

Congratulations on your choice to make your home a cafe!

Here are some tips to get you started.

What makes a great coffee?

To use and operate an espresso machine, a high level of skill and experience is required. It is sometimes said that up to 50% of the quality of coffee can be dependant upon you, the barista.

To produce a great coffee, science and art come together. Espresso production might be considered a science: if a number of variables such as coffee freshness, grind, dosage and tamp along with machine hygiene are taken into account, you can produce an excellent espresso. Milk texture might be considered an art: there are many ways of producing a similar product. A dirty, poorly maintained machine will produce poor coffee. Here are some tips to assist you to look after your machine.

Most Australians still tend to drink a milky coffee. Imagine your espresso as the foundation of your coffee. Just as an architect must build a house or building on a solid foundation or the building falls over, so we must have a sound espresso foundation or our milky coffee will also “crumble”. When we texture milk, we take the role of the artist in creating a creamy, well-finished drink.

The following pointers will assist you to serve the new coffee at the highest standard:

Beginning of the day

  1. Allow the machine 30 minutes to come to temperature. As a general rule, a group too hot to hold is ready for use.
  2. Freshen the machine before you work. Run some water through the group head and from the boiler. Purge the steam wands for at least 5 seconds.
  3. Fill the grinder (which should be left clean and empty at the end of each day) and grind a small quantity of beans – do a visual check of the grind. It should look gritty and powdery- like salt and pepper mixed together. Adjust the grinder if required- turn the grinder collar in the direction indicated for a coarser or finer grind.
  4. Dose a clean, dry, double-spouted portafilter using a “dose and collapse” (grind to a mountain, tap off on your tamping mat or bench twice, distribute without compression, top up if required to allow for a perfectly full and level portafilter) method as appropriate and perform a test extraction. You should extract approximately 25-30ml of espresso into each cup in a TOTAL of 30 seconds including a delay of about 5-9 seconds (dependent on machine). Consistent dose and correct grind size are critical in espresso production. Look for:
    • Good thick, persistent crema and rustiness in the coffee during extraction- a sign of freshness
    • Thick, syrupy coffee
    • A steady, fine stream of espresso (I sometimes refer to this as “drips that want to be a pour”)
    • A beautiful moussey mouthfeel- not bitter (generally tasted at rear of tongue) or sour (generally tasted towards tip of tongue)
    • Check the coffee puck- it should dry in a few seconds and then be crackable like a chocolate biscuit. If this does not occur- you may need to adjust your technique to acheve a larger dose.
    • TASTE THE ESPRESSO and make any final final grind adjustments. Assuming a good dose, if the espresso is sour and watery, a finer grind is required; coarser if espresso is bitter.

Recommended espresso standards: please note that these are just a guide. Taste and adjust as required!

 

Dose (g)

Extraction (ml)

Time (sec)

Served in ceramic

Espresso

7+

25-30

25-30

Small

Ristretto

7+

10-15

18-20

Small

Doppio ristretto

14+

20-30

18-20

Small

Doppio espresso

14+

50-60

25-30

Large

Lungo (long black)

14+

60 over 1/2 cup water from boiler

25-30

Large

Texturing milk

  • Fill the jug no more than a third full of milk to allow for expansion. A good fill point is just below the beginning of the spout of the jug
  • Flush excess water from the steam wand and then turn on the steam

Keep the tip of the steam wand just below and at an angle to the surface of the milk. A ‘funnel’ shape appears in the milk and the milk swirls like a whirlpool. As the milk begins to expand, slowly move the jug down to STRETCH the milk to your requirements- i.e a larger stretch for a cappuccino and a smaller stretch for a flat white, for example. Do not move the jug up and down or side to side. Carefully watch the milk, as soon as it is fully textured, turn the steam off but keep the tip of the wand in the milk otherwise large bubbles will be formed. Touch the side or bottom of the jug and as soon as it becomes too hot to touch, turn the steam off. The textured milk should be dense and shiny with fine bubbles. If there are large bubbles, bang the jug gently on the counter surface and they will disappear. Wipe and purge the steam arm and pour the milk immediately. You should be able to avoid the use of a spoon. Clean the jug, removing milk deposits from inside and outside the jug.

There are a confusing number of myths and recommendations about texturing milk but none can replace experience and care. Some guidelines and suggestions are :

Use a stainless steel jug, either conical or straight sided.

  • Full fat or low fat milk can be textured just as easily providing the operator is experienced.
  • The fuller the fat, the denser the foam.
  • Avoid milk that is towards the use by date.
  • Milk should not be reheated- choose the correct size jug to minimise wastage and dispose of any leftover milk.
  • Do not jiggle the jug. The steam nozzle should be just below the surface of the milk. You are aiming for a creamy, integrated froth rather than a light sudsy foam.
  • When the milk is at drinking temperature, you will not be able to touch the jug- (60-65 deg C). You should stop the heating process, wipe the steam wand clean and then pour immediately. Cappuccini should be poured first, then caffé lattes and finally flat whites.
  • If the milk is overheated by mistake, throw it away. Never reheat/reuse milk.
  • Only texture enough milk for the number of coffees required.
  • Keep the steam wand absolutely clean…

Pouring techniques

This is a critically important step to achieve the signature style of coffee presentation that distinguishes a good coffee.

You will already know prior to texturing the milk what espresso drinks you will be making. Your milk texture will need to be adjusted accordingly by increasing or decreasing the amount of stretch. Once the milk has been textured, the aim in the pour is to achieve a ring of crema on the exterior of each pour.

To achieve this, hold the jug close to the lip of the cup. (Do not pour from a distance.) Pour smoothly and gently to ensure the crema is maintained and not mixed up with the milk. As the milk is poured the crema will move to the exterior of the pour and foam will fill the centre. To achieve a frothier finish – for example for a cappuccino you will need to pour quite rapidly to increase the effective spout width. A caffé  latte will require a slow elegant pour.

In summary, some key points are:

  • Work towards avoiding the use of a spoon- it will help you increase speed and work cleaner.
  • Achieve through pouring technique a ring or pattern of crema on top of the coffee.
  • Ensure milk is at perfect temperature.

Milky coffees

Espresso base

Cappuccino 160-220ml

Caffe Latte
160-220ml

Flat white 160-220ml

Macchiato

Espresso

Regular

Regular

Regular

Short

Ristretto

Weak

Weak

Weak

Power order

Doppio ristretto

Strong

Strong

Strong

Power order

Doppio espresso

Large

Large

Large

Long (latte glass)

Lungo (long black)

 

 

 

Optional-Long (latte glass)

Note on milk

In Australia, straight after summer, cow feed changes from grass to hay and the lactation cycle ends. The milk may become more watery. As hay is low in protein, this change has an effect on the milk and it can be very difficult to texture milk. You may find it easier to texture your milk if you add a little skim milk…

During the day

  • After each coffee, remove the group handle, knock out the spent grounds, rinse and keep filter basket clean at all times…
  • Flush the group head and steam wand before and after making coffee
  • Clean group handles regularly and keep them mounted on machines to keep them warm.

End of the day/week

  1. Rinse the group head
  2. Run a backwash according to the suggestions below:
  • (daily) 3 x 5 seconds water backflush (daily)
  • (weekly) chemical backflush of up to 10 x 3* seconds using ¼ teaspoon backwash detergent. Watch the exhaust and when the suds are clean, this step may be discontinued. You may need only 3 or 4 x 3 seconds in low use situations. Follow with a further water backflush as above.
  1. Clean all stainless steel surfaces with steam from the steam wand and a microfibre cloth. Stubborn marks can be removed with a 50% solution of a good glass cleaner used sparingly. Don’t forget cup trays. Wash the drip tray. Periodically soak group handles and filter baskets in backflush solution for up to 30 minutes and then use a wipe (or scourer if required) to remove any deposits.
  2. Clean and empty the grinder- store unused beans in an airtight container in a cool dark place- brush down and wash the hopper (warm water and detergent), dry and replace on grinder. Brush out the dosing chamber.

Espresso ‑ espresso is a coffee drink originated by the Italians as a quick pick‑me‑up for the working class people. It is finely ground coffee (either dark or light roast) that is placed under a machine which rapidly forces hot water through it at a high pressure. If done properly, this process creates a strong brew that is not bitter. It is served alone or used as a base for other drinks. The length of pour should be approx. 25-30 ml in a 25 second pour time. It should be served in a demi-tasse  cup.

Ristretto ‑ this is how the Italians love their coffee. A restricted very short (15 ml in around 18-20 sec.) shot of coffee; rich and full-bodied, served in a demi-tasse cup. The shorter the pour the stronger the flavour.

Short Macchiato or Espresso macchiato (short) ‑ is a single serving of espresso “stained” or “marked” with a dash of cold milk and/or a dollop of dense foam. Serve in a small glass or espresso cup.

Long Macchiato or Espresso macchiato (long)‑ a double shot of espresso served in a latte glass or cup (on request), stained with a dash of cold milk or warm milk foam. This drink may be made over 60ml of water to produce a longer drink. Serve in a large glass.

Espresso con panna ‑ a shot of espresso, topped off with a dollop of fresh cream.

Correto ‑ a shot of espresso with a dash of alcohol- typically grappa, brandy or frangelico.

Caffé latté ‑ an espresso mixed with steamed milk (served warm-hot but not scalding- 60-65oC), to create a rich creamy coffee drink, presented with a centimetre of dense silk foam on top for presentation. You should be able to hold the glass without the use of a serviette.

Cappuccino – a common breakfast beverage in Italy. An espresso with one third by height of cup foamed milk (approximately 2cm) and one third warm milk (60-65oC), in a cup- possibly garnished on top, with chocolate or cinnamon.

Long black (Lungo) – either a double shot of an espresso over 1/2 cup hot clean water from boiler or when requested weak, a single shot of hot water topped with espresso and served in a cup (Americano).

Flat white – as per latte but served in a cup. Some cafes prefer to present this drink with a smaller quantity of textured milk foam.

Vienna coffee – a long black coffee topped with cream and served in a cup.

Affogatto – a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of ice-cream, served in a glass. (try with a dash of caramel to taste).


So what makes a good coffee?

Just like wine, coffee is a personal thing! There is no “correct solution” for any palate…however; you may like to keep the following characteristics in mind when drinking your coffee. They may help you to better identify what you like or don’t like!

Acidity
Acidity is a desirable characteristic in coffee. It is the sensation of dryness that the coffee produces under the edges of your tongue and on the back of your palate. The role acidity plays in coffee is not unlike its role as related to the flavour of wine. It provides a sharp, bright, vibrant quality. Without sufficient acidity, the coffee will tend to taste flat. Acidity should not be confused with sourness, which is an unpleasant, negative flavour characteristic.

Aroma
Aroma is a sensation which is difficult to separate from flavour. Without our sense of smell, our only taste sensations would be: sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. The aroma contributes to the flavours we discern on our palates. Subtle nuances, such as “floral” or “winey” characteristics, are derived from the aroma of the brewed coffee.

Body
Body is the feeling that the coffee has in your mouth. It is the viscosity, heaviness, thickness, or richness that is perceived on the tongue. A good example of body would be that of the feeling of whole milk in your mouth, as compared to water. Your perception of the body of a coffee is related to the oils and solids extracted during brewing. Typically, Indonesian coffees will possess greater body than South and Central American coffees. If you are unsure of the level of body when comparing several coffees, try adding an equal amount of milk to each. Coffees with a heavier body will maintain more of their flavour when diluted.

Flavour
Flavour is the overall perception of the coffee in your mouth. Acidity, aroma, and body are all components of flavour. It is the balance and homogenisation of these elements that create an overall perception of flavour.

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