A good quality espresso is like that perfect hug which just makes the day seem brighter. It carries the promise of better things to come and make Mondays a lot more bearable. The key to the perfect espresso is controlled temperature, pressure and great coffee grounds. To this day the best brews are made using classic style lever machines invented more than 100 hundred years ago in Italy. These remain the gold standard which cost thousands of dollars. Without getting yourself one of these, it is difficult to achieve the perfect beverage however there are several alternatives that come close.
Most everyone is used to getting their caffeine shots from the coffee shop or the cafeteria at work. The serious aficionados look forward to being woken up by the pleasing scent of their favorite brew wafting up from espresso machines. As many an avid drinker would testify, the pursuit for the most perfect and authentic cup is a costly endeavor that spans over numerous machines and the latest thermodynamics technology. Others scour through neighborhood coffee shops boutique coffee roasters and renowned baristas in search of the best brew. Over time, one ends up owning several gadgets or settles for the best coffee shop in the area and still remains dissatisfied with the end product.
Espresso machines can cost as much as $600 which is beyond the average person’s ability while a double shot at Starbucks costs $2.10. Over a year of daily coffee runs this equates to $767 which also is not cheap. This begs the question: “Where is the middle ground and how can we get our morning fix for less?” The obvious answer is to make it yourself without using a machine. So how does one do this?
8 Steps To Brewing Using A Moka Pot
For as little as $20 on Amazon, you can find a good quality Moka Pot (like this one on Amazon) which can also be called an espresso maker. Whatever name they call it, the basics are that it is a stovetop teapot specifically designed to brew espresso by forcing steam through the coffee grounds. Made from stainless steel, the pot comes with two chambers which are separated by a metal filter cup. The metal filter cup has small holes in it to allow the steam to rise into the top chamber of the pot. The bottom chamber is the pot which carries the water while the top chamber is the pouring side which holds and serves the beverage.
1. To make your daily shot using a Moka pot you need the pot itself and your favorite brand of finely granulated coffee beans.
2. Unscrew the top chamber from the bottom half then separate the metal filter and chambers.
3. Pour water into the bottom chamber up to the valve level. The valve is located on the side of bottom chamber.
4. Place the metal filter cup inside the bottom chamber then spoon in coffee grounds into the cup until full.
5. Lightly tamp down the grounds. Refill and tamp down repeatedly until the cup is full and level. Don’t press down too firmly otherwise the water will have difficulties rising through the coffee grounds.
6. Screw back on the top chamber until it’s firmly secured.
7. Set the stove on high and bring the water to boil. In 4-5 minutes the brewed drink should be piping up in the top chamber.
8. Remove coffee from the stove and serve according to taste.
8 Steps To Brewing Using An AeroPress
The AeroPress is an inexpensive way of making espresso by force pressing hot water through coffee grounds. Now enthusiasts everywhere debate over whether or not the AeroPress is capable of making a truly authentic beverage. To this humble author’s taste buds, the AeroPress does indeed meet the challenge of producing a good cuppa. It all comes down to technique otherwise all you get is a concentrated cup of coffee instead of real espresso. Of course the greatness of this gadget is that it does make some pretty good regular coffee even without experimenting with it into the land of espresso.
The AeroPress consists of a plastic chamber, plunger, cap and filter. The plunger is used to apply pressure into the filled chamber so as to produce a quality brew. It is not the most aesthetically pleasing kitchen device what with the hospital style plunger and all. However for the low price and stellar brewing, the AeroPress’ lack of beauty does not detract from it at all. To make coffee shots using an AeroPress you need to get one for about $20, finely ground coffee and AeroPress sized coffee filters.
1. Bring water to boil in a separate container and let it sit for a minute.
2. Separate the AeroPress chambers from the plunger and cap.
3. Place the filter paper inside the cap then screw the cap to the bottom chamber.
4. Scoop in ground coffee into the bottom chamber then tamp it down.
5. This is where the technique comes in. Most AeroPress units do not come with a tamper so you have to improvise with something like a bottle of spice seasoning which is perfectly sized to slide in and out of the AeroPress chamber to tamp down the coffee.
6. Place a second filter on top of the tamped down coffee so as to prevent the hot water from sloshing about and ruining the compression of the grounds.
7. Pour hot water into the chamber then place the assembled unit on top of a cup.
8. Use the AeroPress plunger to manually press the water through the coffee and into the cup for a great cup of java.
There are several more ways of making your favorite brew without using any machines. Some of them are reminiscent of bicycle pumps while others deliver portable convenience. Of course these produce varying levels of success such that perfection is defined by the drinker’s expectations. One could also argue over what constitutes a machine and whether or not the lack of batteries or electricity excludes a gadget from being called a machine. The bottom line is that the average drinker has more options beyond expensive espresso machines. With a little bit of experimenting, you can get your morning java all year round at under $100.
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