Making the perfect espresso
Espresso is a single shot of coffee from an espresso machine at 30ml of black coffee. Making "good" espresso is an art form and needs much research and practice to develop the best results.
Freshness is supremely important. The closer it is to the roast date, the better.
Grind is crucial. Use an espresso burr grinder. A good espresso grind should be about the consistency of caster sugar. If it is too coarse, the water runs through too quickly to pick up all the intricate tastes. If it is too fine, then it packs too densely and the brewing will take too long and make the coffee taste bitter.
Use purified water which should be heated to about 90C. Never use boiling water.
Use the correct amount of ground coffee. This should be about 8 grams of cofffee for a single shot and 16 grams for a double.
Pack the grinds in the portafilter using a tamper. The coffee must be compressed to a density that will create just the right amount of resistance for the water being forced through the grind to pick up the elements needed for a superb espresso. Too little pressure means the water flows through to quickly without picking up these elements but too much means the brew will take too long and it will taste bitter and have little or no crema.
Timing is also crucial. It should take approximately 16 to 20 seconds for a single shot. You should see a mid-brown creamy foam on the surface of the coffee when it has finished extracting.