What does it take to make a good espresso? According to various sources in the know it depends on the 4 M’s and it takes just one discordant stroke to disrupt the perfect harmony found in a good cup of espresso.
M # 1 Macchina, the espresso machine. A stable pressure and exact temperature are needed for the best possible extraction.
M # 2 Macinazione, the proper, uniform grinding of the beans. The size of the particle affects the brewing and extraction process. I leaned early on to invest in a good grinder . According to Ernesto Illy, president of Illycaffe’, the espresso grind should feel like fine sand, smooth to the touch. Slightly finer than granulated sugar.
M# 3 Miscela, the proper blend or mix. Classic Italian blends like Illy or Lavazza are crafted to deliver a chocolate or caramel flavored espresso with soft nutty tones. Colored chocolate to a darker chocolate color blends produce an full-bodied espresso with some sweetness that is not overly bitter. Lighter roasts can be suitable for espresso if done properly. Consider what you like. Remember that the quality of water can influence the flavors of the blend so be sure to use fresh filtered water when brewing.
M# 4 Mano, the skilled hand of the barista. Practice and passion, an understanding of the art and science behind the making of espresso are needed because even with the finest beans and the most advanced equipment, the shot depends on the touch and style of the maker.