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How To Make Good (And Cheap) Espresso At Home

Rich, robust, satisfying — all of these words describe the drink known as espresso. It’s popular all over the world, especially with coffee drinkers who desire bold taste. What, exactly, is espresso? It’s basically strongly flavored black coffee that is made by quickly forcing steam through ground coffee beans. An espresso machine is needed to make the drink, with the exception of powdered instant espresso. However, most coffee drinkers can easily tell the difference between flat instant coffee and freshly made espresso. The smell of each alone is enough to send one racing for the latter.

In addition to drinking straight espresso shots, you can use this style of brew to make delicious gourmet coffee drinks. Do you like lattes, cappuccinos, and mocha? All of these are made with espresso, and the better the quality of the brew the more tasty your final drink creation will be. Making good espresso at home used to require very expensive equipment. Spending well over $500 for just one machine isn’t uncommon, and for those who savor the taste of espresso it’s a worthwhile investment. Fortunately, there are also less expensive espresso machines on the market that produce a good cup of coffee. These aren’t the cheap espresso makers of yesteryear. The modern affordable espresso machine uses a double wall basket, also known as a pressurized basket, to better extract flavor from the coffee beans.

Double wall baskets are made of mesh that has a second layer. This layer, or wall, increases the pressure created during the brewing process, and generally has just one small hole for the brew to pass through. If you’re looking for an affordable espresso machine, definitely look for one with a double wall basket. This feature is also commonly found in higher end espresso makers due to its efficiency. As pressure builds up behind the second layer of the basket, the water is able to cover a greater surface area of the grounds and draw out more flavorful oils from the beans. The double wall filter relies less on the accuracy of the user and quality of the coffee and more on the machine to produce excellent espresso.

One of the best advantages of choosing an espresso maker with a pressurized basket is it improves the consistency of your coffee and gives you more room for error. In other words, no matter how well your coffee is ground, whether your water temperature is a few degrees off, or if you haven’t tamped the coffee perfectly, you’re still very likely to get a great brew. It’s also possible to use regular, pre-ground coffee from the store in an espresso machine with a pressurized basket and still get a nice crema. For those of us who love espresso but don’t want to cough up a ton of cash, this is especially appealing.

Using high quality, fresh, finely ground coffee beans with any espresso maker is optimal, but with the right machine you’ll still get a delicious cup of coffee with little effort on your part. If you’re looking to save money and still have a gourmet coffee experience, go with an affordable espresso machine that has a double wall basket.

 

Coffee Infographic

What a great infographic!
Look at the “freshness” bar. You can see that whole beans can stay fresh for about 2 weeks, BUT GROUND COFFEE stays fresh for only 24hs. And I have to admit that for me 24hs is too much !!
This is why a coffee grinder is SO IMPORTANT.

Delicious Coffee

From Visually.

 

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Coffee Grinders

If you’re like most other coffee drinkers, you’re committing a major faux-pas: neglecting to grind your own beans. Sure, it’s very easy to buy pre-ground coffee from store shelves and settle with that. Those who don’t mind drinking coffee regardless the quality probably won’t care about the difference that freshly ground beans make. However, if you love a quality cup of java you should seriously consider making the switch and getting a grinder.

In short, coffee grinders are devices that crush coffee beans for brewing. Doing so allows more of the flavor to be extracted. If you were to try and brew whole beans, you’d end up with a cup of hot water with only the slightest hint of coffee taste. Grinders have been around for many years, and today both manual and electric versions are available.

When you want to make a cup of coffee, you put some whole beans into the grinder, choose your preferred setting, and the device will crank out coffee that’s ready to make a flavor filled cup of brew. The effectiveness of coffee grinders lie in their ability to create a superior flavor. The longer coffee sits after it’s been ground, the less flavor it has – if you’ve ever tasted stale coffee, you understand how unappealing this is. Coffee is at its most robust when it’s been freshly roasted and ground. For those of us who don’t live near a coffee roaster or don’t have the means to roast our own beans, grinding quality beans at home is the next best option.

Coffee grinders come in a range of sizes and prices, with some costing well over $100. However, the models that consistently produce great results are inexpensive manual burr grinders. When you use this kind of grinder, you can get your beans as finely or coarsely ground as you’d like — grind size is key when making coffee with French presses or espresso makers. For versatility, practicality, and an excellent cup of coffee, invest a bit of money into a decent grinder.