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This is a gorgeous shot. The barista is used some nice advanced Pavoni techniques here. Note that he:
– Pre-warms the shot glass using the steam wand
– Pulls the handle up just under the area where the water fills BEFORE locking in the portafilter handle in gently
– Pushes down the handle in the pre-infusion until it reaches a bit of resistance but raises it again before doing a full pull.

Also notice how much pressure he has to exert while pulling the shot. This is how it is supposed to be. If you are pulling a shot with no resistance, you’ll need to work on a combination of grinding finer and tamping a bit harder.

This is from Giorgio Milos, the 36-year-old is a professor at Illycaffe Universita del Caffe in Trieste, Italy.

Milos is an Italian barista champion who currently lives in New York and will be spending the rest of this year travelling North America representing Illycaffe.

The biggest mistake I’ve seen is an enormous quantity of coffee being used—way too much. I’m talking about 20 to 25 grams of coffee for a single espresso shot! It is like making a mojito with half a mint leaf, one ice cube, a few grains of sugar, and a gallon of rum. Undrinkable!

Espresso made this way—well, it’s not espresso, but I’ll call it that—turns out overly concentrated, and because of that it cannot delight the drinker with the magnificent aromas of toasted bread, chocolate, red fruit, orange, and jasmine flowers that are all present in a high-quality blend.

The beverages I tasted were almost syrups, full-bodied but with a very sour, almost salty taste. I suspect that beans that were roasted too recently played a part. After roasting, beans need a few days to breathe and mature. These too-young beans are a big problem. Also, I’ve visited too many coffee bars that don’t heat cups before serving, and in the process sacrifice flavor and aroma. Or that serve in wet cups, an espresso sin.

An espresso, a real one, requires seven to eight grams of freshly ground coffee roasted two to three days in advance, or preserved using pressurization. The water can’t be too soft, and must not exceed 200 degrees F to avoid burning, nor be lower than 190 F in order to extract all the best aromatic components.

The grind is also fundamental. A too-fine grind can create burnt coffee and extract unpleasantly bitter and woody flavors. This is why so many people describe espresso’s taste as “bitter.” An overly coarse grind doesn’t permit full extraction of certain key elements. The proper, medium grind permits extraction of one ounce of aromatic black liquid in 25 to 30 seconds, the ideal amount of time.

If all these variables are respected (amount of coffee, temperature, time, and volume), along with the right pressure (around nine atmospheric units or 130 psi), you get an opaque, perfumed liquid containing microscopic oil droplets releasing precious coffee aroma, set fully free on your taste buds.

A silky, persistent foam (“crema”) will appear on top, nut brown with red stripes, protecting the liquid underneath for a few minutes—just enough time to hold that ceramic cup in hand, feel the warmth, move it to the lips, and sense those freed aromas in the mouth, where they will combine to create a unique taste experience.

Otherwise known as espresso. A real espresso.

via A Winning Formula for Traditional Espresso – Food – The Atlantic.

Yes, it is true. After about 12 years, I’ve finally decided to move the guide to using a La Pavoni manual lever espresso machine to another home.

The site has generated quite a bit of traffic over to years and I’ve met some great people through it, but various bits of functionality have stopped working. So, the decision was made a few years to move it to a more modern platform. Well, it took a while, but the new site is at Coffee Gurus

The site is still a work in progress. For now, you can add comments with tricks and tips etc. Have fun! Let me know if you have any suggestions.

I couldn’t take it anymore. The ECM Giotto at home has been dripping from the around the portafilter for the past little while. The reason being that the filter gasket was old, hard, and cracked.

So, I pick up a new gasket on the way to the office. This sets me about around $13. This is the easy part.

When I get home to attempt the repair, I find that the old gasket doesn’t want to come out.

The instructions that I found on the web are straight forward and shold work for all E61 group head machines:

– Remove the drip tray

– Take a flat screw driver and lever against the inside of the group head and the outside of the shower filter. The shower filter and gasket will drop out. (yeah, right)

– To re-instate the filter and new gasket. Insert the shower into the new gasket ensuring the flat side of the gasket is facing down.

– Take the portafilter and remove the coffee filter. Place the gasket and shower set in the portafilter and load into the group by applying upward pressure and turning, as if loading into the machine normally. Turn the portafilter around so it goes beyond the right angle position. (yeah right, again….)

What you REALLY need to do:

What you really need to do, if the gasket is hard, is to chip out the old one with a small chisel. Once it cracks and a fair sized piece falls out, use a flat screwdriver to pry out the rest of the old cracked bits of rubber until the rest of the gasket is removed.

If you try to do a brute force prying of the shower filter, I’m pretty sure the screw driver will puncture and damange the shower filter.

To replace the gasket, you need to put a tiny bit of dish soap or food grade lubricant on the outside of the gasket to lube it. Next, fit the gasket back into the groove by prying lightly with a flat head screwdriver so that it is seated all the way around. THEN, use the empty portafilter and use it to press the gasket back into the machine.