The preparation of espresso-based coffee drinks is an art form. A person trained in this art form is called a barista. They can do amazing things with textured milk, almost like painting on the top of a coffee. But you can also become skilled in espresso coffee preparation, once you gain a solid understanding of espresso coffee, espresso blends, coffee varieties and the espresso equipment.
What exactly is espresso?
First of all, you need to know exactly what an espresso is: it is a coffee prepared with one to one-and-a-half ounces of the dark and bitter-sweet coffee, which is heavy-bodied and produces a brownish-red topping of crema. Crema is just a word for the emulsified oils of the coffee roast, produced by forcing the coffee through an espresso machine under high pressure.
The forced method of espresso preparation is what transforms the espresso bean or roast into a beverage that has a very specific feel, aroma, taste and density.
The other important characteristic that makes espresso what it is, is how finely the coffee has been ground. The finer the grind, the slower the espresso comes out of the machine. The say that the absolute best shot of espresso should take about 25 seconds for the water in the espresso machine to pass through the coffee.
When making espresso, remember:
It is vitally important when making an espresso coffee to never over-extract the coffee. To become a true barista of espresso you must learn to treat the espresso preparation as a ritual in itself. This means that you need to understand the difference between a good espresso and a bad one. You may be able to disguise a lesser espresso shot under a heavy head of frothed and textured milk, but it should always be your aim to prepare the best shot of espresso in the first instance.