THE SKILLS

 

The name Gaggia is almost synonymous with espresso. It was Italian bartender Achille Gaggia's skill and passion to produce the most delicious coffee in Milan that led to the invention of the crema layer – the measure of the perfect espresso. The coffee connoisseur knew there was no singular pleasure in life greater than this diminutive drink: it's visual allure, rich aroma, seductive froth and lingering after-taste. But creating the perfect espresso shot requires patience, precision and practice. Master the art, however, and it will soon become a sacred daily ritual.

HOW TO MAKE GREAT COFFEE

LA BASE DI TUTTO L'ESPRESSO

ESPRESSO

PREPARAZIONE DEL LATTE

MICROFOAM

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MACCHIATO

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CAPPUCCINO

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LATTE MACCHIATO

LA BASE DI TUTTO

ESPRESSO

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To make the perfect espresso you need the right equipment combined with knowledge of the entire brewing process. As an espresso forms the basis of many other coffee drinks - such as a capuccino, macchiato and latte macchiato - it's vital that you master the art. Once you're skilled at making an espresso - and the sublime crema layer - you can maker virtually any variation of coffee.

 

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ESPRESSO

COFFEE BLEND

ESPRESSO

AMOUNT OF COFFEE

ESPRESSO

TAMPING PRESSURE

 

 

ESPRESSO

FLOW RATE

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Brewing an espresso takes between 25 and 30 seconds. We call this the flow rate - the speed at which the water flows through the portafilter. If the flow rate is too fast, the coffee has been ground too coarse, resulting in under-extraction. In this case, you need to change your coffee grinder to a finer setting. This reduces the space between the coffee grounds making it harder for the water to pass through. If your flow rate is too slow - known as over-extraction - adjust the grinder to a coarser setting. The only way to set the correct flow rate is by experimenting with different grinds.

ESPRESSO

EXTRACTION

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Once the water starts flowing, two things should happen. First, the espresso should flow out off the machine in a slow but steady stream, resembling a 'mouse tail'. Secondly, the colour of the stream should change from dark to light as the water extracts the oils from the grounds. The sour flavours are extracted within the first few seconds; the bitter elements are extracted from the last part of the shot. When the stream starts to dance, your shot is ready.

ESPRESSO

EXTRACTION

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Once the water starts flowing, two things should happen. First, the espresso should flow out off the machine in a slow but steady stream, resembling a 'mouse tail'. Secondly, the colour of the stream should change from dark to light as the water extracts the oils from the grounds. The sour flavours are extracted within the first few seconds; the bitter elements are extracted from the last part of the shot. When the stream starts to dance, your shot is ready.

ESPRESSO

CLEANING THE PORTAFILTRO

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Rinse the portafiltro and dry with a clean cloth after every use. It should always be left in the machine - even when not in use - so it maintains the correct temperature.

 

PREPARAZIONE DEL LATTE

MICROFOAM

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An espresso is the foundation for a cappuccino, macchiato and a latte macchiato - all of which require microfoam (milk froth) which is made using the steam pipe of the machine. Like espresso, producing the perfect microfoam requires skill. But there are two basic rules: always use whole milk and always use cold milk.

 

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MICROFOAM

WHOLE & COLD MILK

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Only use whole milk to make microfoam. It contains the best balance of proteins and fats and produces a thicker foam than skimmed or semi-skimmed milk. You can also use organic whole milk but - just like single-origin coffee - its composition is more inconsistent. This means you can have perfect froth one day, but not the next. Always use cold milk straight from the refrigerator - and also keep your milk jugs in the refrigerator. Cold milk works better because it gives you more time to create a smooth, velvety foam before reaching the correct temperature.

MICROFOAM

POSITIONING THE STEAM PIPE

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Put the steam pipe in the jug so that it's just a few millimeters below the surface. Turn on the steam and keep moving the jug downwards as the milk rises so that the pipe always remains just below the surface.

MICROFOAM

SWIRLING

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If there are any bubbles on the surface of the microfoam, pound the jug on the counter a few times. Then swirl the milk for about 20-30 seconds to create a smooth, velvety top layer. If bubbles still appear, just pound the jug a few more times.

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ESPRESSO MACCHIATO

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An espresso macchiato is nothing more than an espresso with a small drop of milk froth in it. 'Macchiato' means 'stained' in Italian. So an espresso macchiato is literally a 'stained' espresso: stained with milk. Don't pour any liquid milk in - just a small dash of foam using a teaspoon.

 

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ESPRESSO MACCHIATO

MILK OR FOAM?

 

Espresso Macchiato got its name because baristas needed to show waiters what the difference was between an espresso and an espresso with a tiny bit of milk. So they literally 'marked' the latter (macchiato means 'marked' or 'stained' in Italian). Traditionally, this drink is stained with milk, not foam.

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CAPPUCCINO

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A cappuccino is one third espresso, one third hot milk, and one third foam - in that order. Patterns are often created in the foam. Shaved chocolate, raw sugar, cinnamon, or other spices are often sprinkled on top. You can also melt chocolate into the coffee before adding the milk.

 

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CAPPUCCINO

FOAM SKILLS

 

Creating intricate patterns in the foam of a cappuccino requires additional skills. However, making a basic flower pattern is relatively easy. Start by pouring the milk the milk into the middle of the cup - over the espresso - in one steady flow. When the cup is half full, gently shake the jug from side to side whilst slowly moving it backwards. To finish your flower, sweep through the pattern you've ust made - right to the centre.

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LATTE MACCHIATO

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Latte macchiato literally means 'stained milk' - stained with espresso in this case. The exact opposite of an espresso macchiato. It shouldn't be confused with a caffè latte, however. In this case espresso is added to the milk - instead of milk being added to the espresso. It has more foam.Only half (or less) of an espresso shot is used. And it's a 'layered' drink. Simply put: with a caffè latte, the emphasis is on the coffee; with a latte macchiato, the emphasis is on the milk.

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LATTE MACCHIATO

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Warm up the milk and pour it - along with the foam - into a tall glass until it's almost completely full. Then let it settle for a while. Because foam is lighter than liquid milk, the milk will separate into two layers - the milk at the bottom, the foam on top. Next, pour the espresso - very slowly - into the centre of the glass of milk. To do this, it's best to use a paper cup as you can bend it to form a spout. You could also flow the espresso off the back of a teaspoon.