Espresso 5 M's

The 5M's of Espresso

There are many factors that effect the production of an espresso, for the perfect shot of espresso they must all be right. In Italy they use the 5 M's rule: whilst the "M’s" are Italian words, their importance is indisputable in the making of an exceptional ESPRESSO.

1. Miscela (Espresso Blend)

Only use fresh, high quality espresso blends like Bristot. Although it is possible to make a bad coffee from a good blend you can never make a good coffee from a bad blend. Choose an espresso blend, as a single origin coffee isn’t any good for espresso. Not all coffee beans are the same – or are meant to be used for espresso. A quality blend can contain as many as 14 different origin coffee beans from all over the world. The best blends will contain a high percentage of arabica beans, although this will not necessarily be 100% arabica. Robusta beans add a depth of flavour and body to a blend, giving it a bit of extra oomph. Most of the best espresso blends contain a small percentage of very high quality Robusta. This is true for about 98% of Northern Italy's blends.

2. Macinadosatore (Grinder)

Always use the best quality grinder you can get, as the most important aspect of any grinder is the ability to make very small changes to the coarseness of the grind. The job of your grinder is to control the flow rate of your espresso through adjusting the grind. Conical burr grinders are considered the best as they can operate at lower speeds, reducing the amount of heat created during grinding, causing less damage to the flavour of the coffee. Aim for an extraction of 25-30 seconds. If your espresso is coming out too fast, the grind needs to be finer. Too slow an extraction means that the grind needs to be coarser. Blunt Burr plates in your grinder will create heat & burn coffee as it is ground. Grinder plates should be changed regularly, at around every 1000kg for conical burr grinder plates, every 500kg- 750kg throughput for flat burr plates. For the best results, the coffee should be ground immediately before use, as once ground it has a larger surface area and is more vulnerable to oxidization, which ruins the flavour of your coffee.

3. Macchina Espresso (Coffee Machine)

Look for high quality build and design when choosing a coffee machine. When buying a machine approved by The Italian Espresso National Institute (such as WEGA, a founding member), it means the quality of the machines coffee making ability has been approved by the Italian body in charge of promoting quality espresso. The machine must also be set correctly for your chosen coffee blend i.e. the correct water temperature (88-92ºC for Bristot blends) and pump pressure (8-9 Bar). A high quality espresso machine is not essential to make great espresso as with skill and luck you can produce a great shot of espresso from any espresso machine. However, if you don’t want to rely on luck and produce consistently good espresso shots you need to buy a quality machine as an inferior machine will not provide consistency in water temperature or pump pressure – necessities for great espresso.

4. Mano dell'operatore (Skill of the Barista)

Whilst you don’t have to be a Barista champion, you do need to understand the espresso process if you want to serve high quality coffee. Even if you have the best tools available unless you practice and understand what makes a good espresso from the bad and the downright ugly, a great espresso will be hard to achieve time after time. Looking at your grind and checking your extraction time enables you to see when it is wrong! Finally only grind coffee as you need it, it hates being left in the grinder to oxidise and go rancid. Freshly ground coffee is the only flavour to go for, every time!

5. Manutenzione (Maintenance)

Last but by no means least this ‘M’ is the most often neglected - it is important to keep all of your equipment in good clean working order. Look after your espresso machine and grinder properly with a daily, weekly and monthly cleaning schedule and regular servicing and it will repay you with a long life. As coffee is 90% water it makes sense to only use clean, calcium treated water to make it, always make sure your CTU/ water filter is changed at the correct intervals. A quality espresso will never be achieved through an uncared for grinder or machine.
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