The real secret to making good espresso starts with the espresso grinder. Here we are going to give you some quick tips based on four B's for making better espresso. Some espresso machines are certainly going to do a much better job than others at extraction so no matter how good the grind you may still be a little disappointed. With that being said, let's talk about grinding. The first thing is to start with a decent burr grinder that allows a pretty wide range of adjustments from fine to course. We really recommend investing in the best grinder you can afford. The grind is truly one of the key components to all brew methods and it isn't limited to your espresso only. It will help you make better coffee in general including your drip coffee, pour overs, French press or anything in-between.
There are multiple factors in making good espresso, but here we want to solely focus on dialing in the grind. For now, we are going to assume you have a good baseline extraction that you want to improve. Once you have pulled your shot give it a taste. What is your overall impression of the espresso. Is it sour, bitter, flat or even overpowering? Here is the wonderful way the grinder can improve these off flavor notes. Let's keep this simple for future reference with the four B's:
1. Bright Espresso: Try making the espresso grind a little finer here to lower the brightness or acidic flavors down a bit.
2. Bitter Espresso: Here you are gonna want to use a courser grind to help kick out some of those overly bitter notes.
3. Bland Espresso: If the overall flavor is good but a little flat, you simply need to increase your dose a bit. More espresso in the portafilter basket will equal a little more flavor in the cup.
4. Bold Espresso: Simply the opposite of bland, so naturally we now want to decrease the dose.
Notes: Keep in mind that it is always best to make small adjustments on the grinder at any given time. Remember to always purge the grinder each time after making grind setting adjustments. This gets the old grind out of the way and allows the grinder burrs to adjust as well. Keep in mind the roast level of the coffee you are extracting will play a factor. Your goal here should be to create the best shot possible that offers the most well balanced/rounded espresso.
This whole process may seem like a bit of a grind, but we assure you the end results will be worth it!