The phrase Christmas Rush is an understatement: it’s the 23rd, and I still have a pile of unwrapped presents on the table next to me as I type this, plus two cakes cooling in the kitchen, and a whole lot of frosting to make! Can you imagine what it is I need most right now?
That’s right: coffee. Lots of it. And I don’t mean cups of namby pamby drip-coffee- at this point in time, only good, strong Espresso will do for me.
Here’s what you’ll need to brew perfect Espresso at home. This is good, smooth, strong stuff- not too bitter, and certainly without that awful metallic taste that plagues so many failed homemade Espressos.
- Espresso Maker. Contrary to what you may have been led to believe, you do NOT need to buy the most expensive machine out there. I use an affordable DeLonghi machine I was gifted around 12 (yes, 12!) years ago, and it’s fine.
- Coffee Grinder. Again, no need to get too fancy here. Burr grinders, of course, rock my socks off- but any regular grinder will do. I even have a weakness for those hand-cranked antique looking grinders. And just between you and me, I used a regular old blender to grind coffee beans when my grinder broke last week, and could barely tell the difference. I don’t recommend using your food processor, though- never worked well for me.
- Awesome Water. Now here, really, is where you want to get fancy. The taste of your coffee depends upon how good your water is. I don’t like distilled, have a great fear of my local tap water, and buy Alkaline water for my household for health reasons. I also happen to think it’s delicious.
Now, when you brew yourself some Espresso, here’s what to keep in mind:
- Use a fine grind. None of that coarse ground for Espresso- it takes literally seconds for your water to go through your machine, and you want as much coffee flavor in there as possible. So, go fine- we’re talking almost like powdered sugar fine.
- Use chilled water. Not ice water, but a nice, non-toothachingly-cold chill. I’m not sure why this is so, but I’ve found that starting with chilled, clean water produces a better tasting, smoother Espresso.
- Try some salt. You heard me: try adding a pinch of salt to your ground coffee before tamping it down. I don’t remember where I learned this, but it apparently kills some of the acidity and makes your Espresso less bitter.
- Serve immediately. Espresso must be drunk right away.
These tips should help you brew up some Espresso at home that will knock your socks off- and cost much, much less than a trip to your local coffeeshop. And now, back to present-wrapping for me!