Really enjoyed class today. We got to extract espresso shots which i really like. We also learned how to properly steam the milk so that the foam has a velvety smooth consistency to it. The challenge really comes in doing both at the same time. Getting the espresso shot to extract correctly is interesting because if you grind the coffee bean to coarse then the espresso will extract too fast and if you grind the coffee bean too fine then your extraction will be too slow. What you want in a proper espresso extraction is a consistent stream that is about the thickness of a spaghetti noodle and has the consistency and color almost like honey. The color should be rust like.The extraction should take approximately 25 seconds. Any faster than that is too fast and any slower would be a dribble looking extraction.
It was interesting to taste the different between a bad extraction and a good one. You’ll taste a bad espresso extraction towards the middle to back of your tongue. It’ll be really bitter (of course I’ve been told that straight espresso is an acquired taste), but a good espresso extraction will be tasted across most of the tongue. It’ll almost be as if your entire tongue is coated.
Like I said we also learned today how to steam milk properly. Milk should be steamed between 140 and 160 degrees. What you do is place the steaming wand completely down in the milk so that when you first turn on the steam it pushes air into the milk. Almost immediately you want to lower the milk pitcher (not sure that is the proper term for the container holding the milk…… it’s late back off) so that part of the steam wand head is out of the milk so that the steam and air begin to mix into the milk causing the milk to roll or go into a spiral motion. You hold the pitcher with one hand and put your other hand on the bottom of the container. Once you begin to feel the container warm the milk is probably around 100 degree.
At the point the container almost gets too hot to touch it is most likely approaching 140 to 150 degrees (a thermometer is typically used while steaming milk to assure proper temperature), and you should pull the steaming wand out of the milk and make sure there are not visible bubbles in the foam and that it has a smooth consistency.
The espresso extraction and steaming of the milk if timed right should complete about the same time and then the milk should be poured over the espresso almost immediately so the crema (a reddish-brown foam that floats on the surface ) and the milk mix properly.
So tomorrow I think we’ll be going out and visiting some local coffee shops and seeing how they do things in a live environment. Should be exciting.