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The espresso must be creamy, full-bodied, aromatic and prepared with an industrial machine that modern technology has made perfect; yet making a good espresso continues to be an art that few have mastered.

Seeing a bartender who, with quick and easy gestures, prepares one espresso after another, one can think that it is easy, practically within everyone's reach.

Instead, behind those almost mechanical movements there is knowledge, training, technique and a lot of precision, but also cleanliness, accuracy, scrupulous care for the product and for the machines used to prepare it.
In fact, there are many factors that affect the success of a good espresso.

All the most sophisticated technique and a skilled barista will never be able to extract a good espresso from a poor blend.
Whether blend or single origin, the coffee must be good, that is, pleasant, sweet, fragrant, aromatic and leave a pleasant and lasting aftertaste.
Let us remember that, after drinking a good coffee, we must always feel the desire to enjoy another one. Within the limits of local habits and tastes, the coffee beans must be roasted to the right point, because if it is too dark it will be more bitter, if too light it will be excessively acidic.

Coffee beans can be kept for a long time in the original packaging, bag or jar but, once the package is opened, the product deteriorates quickly. To best preserve it, after use it should be placed in a watertight container and stored in the refrigerator.
The same technique can be adopted at home to preserve ground coffee, but in any case, even with this warning, the ground is about fifty times more perishable than that in beans. In fact, the surface of the coffee exposed to atmospheric oxidation increases from time to time with grinding. The barista should never store ground coffee in the dispenser for more than a few hours.

The normal bar grinder is made up of two overlapping flat grinders, whose distance is adjustable to choose the right thickness of the powder. The grinding must also be adjusted several times a day, as a consequence of the variation in atmospheric humidity, especially in areas with variable climate: high humidity requires a coarser grinding, otherwise the percolation is slow and stunted and the product will be over-extracted; the lack of humidity requires a finer grind. It is good to grind a little coffee at the rate, so that the product is always fresh: it must cover as soon as the fins of the dispenser moreover the flat grinders turn at high speed and a prolonged operation would overheat the coffee, giving it an unpleasant smoke of burnt. The grinders must be replaced about every 400 kilos of coffee. In the case of very light roasted coffees, the wear of the grinders is faster and must therefore be replaced more often.

The volumetric doser does not weigh the coffee, but doses a certain volume, which must be prepared and checked with great accuracy and with a certain frequency. The ideal dose should be 7 grams for a single cup, 14 grams for two cups. In the absence of precise scales, the calibration of the dispenser is done by weighing ten strokes and adjusting to seven grams.
Cleaning the grinder is very important, because coffee residues can turn rancid and ruin the taste of the product.

In the modern automatic espresso machine, the heart is the boiler in which the water is heated. It is good to remember that the water from the boiler is not used to make coffee, but, delivered from the special tap, will be used for tea and other uses. Steam is formed in the upper part of the boiler, which, through the other tap on the machine, will be used to heat the milk and other liquids.
The water for the coffee, pushed by a pump at a pressure of 9 BAR (atmospheres), passes into a heat exchanger inside the boiler where it is heated and kept at the right temperature of about 90 °.

After filling the filter from the dispenser, the coffee must be pressed with a force of 10-20 kilos. Generally speaking, a good barista will adjust by pressing the coffee in order to compensate for any small grinding defects. Before attaching it to the machine unit, the edge of the filter holder must be cleaned, because coffee residues could limit the closure (with consequent loss of pressure) and form deposits on the seal, which could deteriorate more quickly.
As the extraction of the espresso is released it must be smooth, resembling that of a “mouse tail”; the cup must be hot but must not burn the customer's lips.

Maintenance is essential to obtain a perfect espresso: the grinder bell must be washed regularly to remove all traces of grease. The inside of the grinder must be brushed carefully to remove all residues, while the dispenser must be cleaned with a brush. Every evening the filters from the filter holders must be removed and washed from the machine; the coupling area must be carefully cleaned with a metal brush, during the night it is preferable to leave the machine on especially to avoid excessive limescale formation; in this regard, it is very important to check the softener frequently. The limestone deposits limit the passage of water by lowering the temperature and compromising the success of the extraction.
By extraction we mean a rapid procedure established according to the degree of grinding, water temperature, pressure and contact time between the water and the coffee grind.

An espresso is defined as a small cup of concentrated coffee, extracted from freshly ground coffee beans and must correspond to the following average parameters:

• Amount of coffee required 7g
• Water temperature 90 ° C
• Water pressure 9 BAR
• Compression in the filter about 15 kg
• Extraction time 25 seconds
• Quantity in cup 25 ml
• Empty cup temperature 60 ° C

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