Spice catches up with Cafe2U barista and coffee trainer Dino Demetriou to find out what makes a perfect espresso.
The five elements required for caffeine perfection are as follows:
1. A good blend
There are so many things that can affect a good blend. Storage, light, heat and freshness are all factors that can compromise quality.
2. The right grinder
If the blades in your grinder aren’t sharp it will lead to burnt coffee.
3. A well-oiled espresso machine
A maintained machine will operate at its best and go the distance. This includes regular cleaning and not jamming the machine with coffee.
4. Water quality
The better the water, the better the espresso. For example, in South Australia the water is slightly harsher, resulting in a different coffee taste.
5. A great barista
All the aforementioned factors are important, but if you don’t have a good barista it doesn’t count for much.
The surprising thing about coffee is that it can look incredible but taste terrible. Trust your nose rather than eyes when judging a coffee.
The things you need to do in order to determine the difference between a good and great coffee are as follows:
Exhale, put your nose to the cup and inhale deeply. Take time to smell the coffee and allow your nose to adjust. The smell should correlate to the taste, so if it smells burnt or rubbery, chances are what you’re sipping on won’t taste good. The coffee should smell deep, rich and pleasant.
After smelling the coffee, exhale and take a small sip. Let the espresso run from the front to the back of your tongue and swish it around. It may take a few sips to take in the full flavour.
An espresso is a very strong beverage, so for a first timer it can be an intense experience. Remember that the taste of coffee can change, and your focus should be on how it ends tasting in your mouth, although a good initial taste is important too.
Try to gauge the other elements beyond the ‘coffee’ taste. Is it spicy, fruity, earthy, or a different flavour? Is it intense, subtle, delicious or awful? As the coffee glides over your tongue, different areas will be sensitive to different flavours.
Your coffee should feel thick, heavy, luxurious and smooth, and something you want swish around in your mouth. A thin, watery coffee leaves little to be desired.
5. After taste
A good espresso should linger pleasantly on the taste buds for a good 10 to 20 minutes. If your mouth tastes bitter, acidic or unpleasant, it’s time for a new barista.