espresso wiki

a concise list of espresso jargon

You get into this for the good espresso, but after a while you develop a certain inner need to interact with others for even better shots. To make use of decades of experience, you need to know what you are talking about and the factors which are crucial in pulling a good shot with abundant crema. You have not been asking for it, but you probably will, so, here it is: some insider jargon and other relevant terms explained.

Browse this section for tips and tricks. By the way, did you know that jargon just used to mean twittering in Old French?

  • choked shot happens when you cannot pull the shot. Most likely a problem with how compact the puck you made is (you tampered it down too hard or the grind is not right)

  • spice jar tamper if you do not have a good tamper at hand, you can use any flat household item that has about the right size to accomplish the job. Somewhat an ugly hack, but even a chrome salt shaker will do in case nothing better is around.

  • wet towel some lever machine users use them to cool an overheated device along with ice cubes possibly.

  • reverse osmotic water purified water. The purification method makes use of applied pressure and a filter membrane.

  • softened water is the type of water you get when mineral ions that cause the water to be hard are removed. Use softened water to prevent lime-scale deposit.

  • recocking is when you position the lever to be ready for another pull

  • Fellini move is doing one and a half pulls

  • baskets the metal basket-like container that you put the ground coffee into and tamp it down (then it goes into the portafiler). Get two of them if you want to make consecutive shots.

  • portafilter you put the basket into this and then screw it in using the handle.

  • bottomless portafilter is basically a large ring with a handle. Imagine sawing off the bottom of a usual one. The coffee will not flow through the small hole at the bottom of the portafiler but from full diameter of the the basket to the cup underneath in an unobstructed manner. Something for purists to gaze at.

  • multi-pull is when you do more than one pull/stroke with the same puck. Some go for two, but three full pulls is most probably over-extracting.

  • shot separationis when you multi-pull but into separate glasses. This can be interesting to discern between the quality of the shot you get when you extract with more than one pull. Using this technique you can taste the second pull separately and decide if it is something that you want to mix in regularly with the first.

  • spring piston is the type of lever that is connected to a spring. When not in use, this type of lever is always upwards. You pull it down and then spring pushes the lever up for you again. It is advantageous because it provides consistent extraction rates and you do not need to push the lever back. A friendly reminder: don’t pull piston down when empty or it may just hit you in the chin on its way back up.

  • direct lever is a fully manual lever. You need to do the pushing up and the pulling down too manually. You have more control over the process, but more can go wrong too. Counts almost as a physical exercise.

  • crema is the fine foam-like extract of coffee oils. Mostly probably unknown to mankind till the 1940s.

  • burnt shot happens when the water is overheated giving the shot a distinctly unpleasant burnt taste. The ideal temperature to pull the shots is around 95 C (202F).

  • god shot when you happen to get everything right and pull a divine shot crowned with a heavenly creama layer.

  • sugar support is something you can brag about if you take your espresso with sugar. A well-made shot may support a teaspoon of sugar for a couple of seconds. Time it and you got something to say.

  • tamperthis a mechanical device much like a stamp. It is used to make the ground coffee more condensed in the basket, so it provides more resistance and a higher pressure can be achieved. Many users find that the tamper shipped with their espresso machine is not the right size. Do get the right one, bad tamping can ruin a shot. They come in different sizes (around 40-60 mm) and you need to get one that matches your basket’s diameter exactly, so measure your basket. You want to use a heavy, flat and dry tamper all the time.

  • coffee resistance is what you are trying to build up and enhance when you tamp. The compressed coffee/puck is the resistant force against the mechanical power of the pull that pushes the water through it.

  • tamping is the act of using your tamp to compress the coffee in the basket. It is important to see that the force you exert is measurable. There are calibrated tamps that will click when you reached the desired pressure, which is often 30 pounds. You do not need to get a calibrated fore-feedback tamper though, just put the basket on a scale and measure the pressure you exert while tamping.

  • prefusion is how long the hot water sits on the ground coffee before it is eventually being pushed out to go through a wonderful transformation and begin its short life as an espresso shot. This is why you have much more control with lever machines than with any other type of coffee maker. You decide when to engage the lever and how fast the extraction should be (with direct levers). In that short interval of time the hot water wets the compacted coffee in the basket but it is not yet under pressure. It is before the pressurized fusion begins.