Taste the Difference: How an Espresso Machine Changes Coffee Flavor
Are you considering a new espresso machine? Not sure whether this rich, sweet kind of coffee is right for you? Let's talk about how your coffee experience changes with a switch!
Flavor and Consistency
Sometimes it can be hard to find a shot of espresso that's truly representative of what you can expect if you learn how to make your own at home. Often times larger coffee shop chains will serve espresso that tastes bitter. This is probably what has led to the impression that espresso is a necessarily acquired taste. In truth, it's actually a sweet, syrupy form of coffee that should be easy to drink. While it's true that it's a more concentrated option than a drip brew, it shouldn't really be heavier. Also, while it's called a "shot", that doesn't mean you need to drink it fast! Espresso is actually delicious as a drink to sip on.
If you're used to picking out specialty coffee, then you'll have an idea of what to expect from the notes of a shot. Espresso tends to bring those sweeter flavors out as mentioned above, making them more intense. This means that coffees that lean into chocolatey flavors tend to give the best early impression. However, there are plenty of fantastic floral and citrus options for espresso as well! Just expect those stronger notes to be amplified in an espresso shot.
Then of course, there's milk. If you like lattes already, you'll love them when you start making your own. You can find coffees with notes that pair wonderfully with milk, and finding what works best in a cappuccino or flat white is a joy.
Workflow and Learning Curve
The biggest change to your coffee life with an espresso machine is learning to use it. Making espresso doesn't necessarily take more time than brewing a pot of coffee. In fact, once you get quick at it you can have a latte in just a minute or two. To get there though, you'll need lots of practice. Brewing shots consistently means lots of minor adjustments to get everything just right.
You'll also need an espresso grinder that can handle grinding for espresso. While you might want to start by using pressurized portafilter baskets, you will likely want to move to unpressurized baskets. The latter will give you more control over your shots, and help you tease out the perfect flavor.
Then there's milk frothing. There's a careful technique to properly steaming milk for different espresso drinks, and you'll want to practice to get that perfect froth. Don't let any of this scare you off though! Learning to brew espresso at home is rewarding, and you might just find that you love it more than slow brew methods.
Oh, and of course, if all of this sounds too complicated, consider a superauto! Superautomatic espresso machines offer built in grinding, and many can steam milk automatically as well. Depending on what you look at you might be able to get perfect lattes with just a button press!