Saturday, December 20, 2008

Making the Perfect Coffee on Your Cafetera!

In my previous post I explain what a Cafetera is. In this post I will give step by step instructions on how to make the perfect coffee.

A Cafetera has three sections. The bottom section is where you put the water. The middle section is where you put your espresso grounds. The top section is where the espresso will be at the end of the process.

Step 1- Use filtered water: Water tastes different from place to place depending on the chemicals that local municipalities use or the age of your pipes. While it is not always possible to filter your water, if you can this will improve the flavor of your coffee.

Step 2- Pour the water into the bottom section of the cafeterra. It is important not to overfill this section. You should get the water level as close to the steam release valve (it looks like a bolt on this section of the cafetera) as possible without going above it.

Step 3- Add Coffee Grounds: Place the next section of the cafetera into the water reservoir. If water starts to enter into this section you have too much water in the bottom section and need to dump some out. Now, fill this chamber with your espresso grounds. (Note- Espresso grounds tend to be a darker roast and also tend to be a finer ground then what you would place in a drip coffee. If you grind your own beans you will need to grind them longer than you normally would for a drip coffee maker).

Step 4- Tamp the Grounds: This is one of the most import parts in making a good espresso. You must tamp down the coffee grounds (simply pack the grounds tightly). In the cafe we had a special piece of a equipment to do this, but in you home you can use a spoon. With a spoon it is probably not possible to pack it down too tightly. (Note- If the coffee never perks, it is an indication that you have either tamped the coffee too much or ground the coffee to fine).

Step 5- Brew it: Screw on the top of the cafetera. You will want to make sure that it is tight so that no steam escapes. Then simply set on the stove on high. The heat will turn the water to steam and the pressure will force it up through the grounds and into the top section of the cafeterra. The espresso will slowly fill the top chamber. You will know it is finished when it starts to make a gurgling sound of steam escaping through the top quickly. Once you hear this you should remove it from the flame immediately to avoid burning your brew.

Step 6- Prepare your cup: The most typical way to drink a coffee in Spain was to mix it with hot milk. This would be the loose equivalent to a Latte in the states. The ideal milk temperature is between 140-170 degrees Fahrenheit. If you burn the milk it ruins the coffee! A typical Spanish version would be about 1/3 espresso to 2/3 hot milk. If I want a particularly strong coffee I may do half and half, but remember... A shot of espresso is the equivalent to a mug of coffee. Warning- If you fill an American sized mug of coffee with espresso and down it, you may experience twitching, stomach pain and anything else you would experience if you were to chug an entire pot of coffee.

If you follow these steps you will be able to make a wonderful coffee at home whenever you want. Not only that, but you will save some cash in the meantime without having to sacrifice your coffee.