If you’ve ever asked yourself, “what exactly is espresso?” don’t worry, you’re not alone. Just like pour over, drip, French press, or cold brew, espresso is a type of coffee beverage, but it’s brewed in a different way. To make, pull, or extract a shot of espresso, you’ll need fresh, finely-ground coffee and hot water.
However, unlike other brewing methods, you need the hot water to meet the ground coffee with high pressure and for a short period of time. Due to the high pressure and short extraction time, the liquid produced is intense, full-bodied, and crowned off with a layer of “crema.” All of this can be achieved with the KitchenAid® Pro Line® Series Espresso Maker.
To learn how to get the most out of KitchenAid’s Espresso Maker, I turned to the pros: some of my favorite local baristas. One thing they all agreed on was that good, fresh beans are the key to a good shot of espresso. There’s a bit of debate as to how long you should keep your beans, but assuming they’ve been freshly roasted, you should be able to keep them for 15-20 days. Store them in a cool spot in an air-tight, non-porous container, away from direct sunlight and you’re good to go.
When you’re ready to make espresso, grind the beans in your KitchenAid® Burr Grinder.
I set my Burr Grinder to 8, as a fine grind is ideal for espresso. With freshly ground beans, you’re well on your way to a great shot of espresso.
The next crucial tip I learned was how to tamp. It’s not enough to just have fresh, finely ground beans; you’ll need to tamp the espresso properly to pull a great shot. I learned that after you’ve put the appropriate amount of ground coffee in your basket, you need to distribute it evenly. You can do this with your finger by simply drawing it right to left and front to back a couple of times. Next you’ll want to take your tamper and press it straight down with about 10 to 20 pounds of pressure. Finish it off with a twist of your wrist and your shot has been tamped.
Now you’re ready to extract. The shot will start with a slow drip that will quickly turn into a dark, steady stream, and will end with a “blonde” stream. This should last for about 25 seconds, which I learned is approximately how long it takes to pull a shot of espresso! If it takes much longer or shorter to go through those three stages, you should take a look at your grind and your tamping. Assuming your beans have been finely ground and properly tamped, you should be looking at a beautiful shot of espresso right now.
To turn your espresso shot into a cappuccino, you’ll need to steam some milk. What I love about this Espresso Maker is that it has two independent boilers that allow you to extract a shot of espresso at the same time as you steam milk. To get the best steaming results, start with cold milk and a cool pitcher. Angle the pitcher so that the wand is aimed diagonally into the milk and place the tip of the wand a couple centimeters below the surface. This is stretching the milk and after a couple of seconds of this, you should submerge the wand about halfway to create a whirlpool.
After you’re done steaming, be sure to give your pitcher a few taps on the counter and a couple swirls before using. And always, always clean your steaming wand by giving off a little steam and wiping the wand clean with a towel.
I love how many drinks you can create with this machine. Not only am I able to pull my morning shot of espresso, which I’ve lovingly dubbed “life-blood,” I can also easily turn it into a cappuccino, latte, or even an affogato. It’s been a game changer in our house and while its functionality would be enough, I’m equally smitten with its looks. The KitchenAid® Pro Line® Series Espresso Maker and Burr Grinder are head turners, and our friends always comment on how pretty they are. It’s safe to say I’m obsessed with this machine and I really can’t wait to hear about how much you love yours!
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*