Doesn’t the best espresso selection in Eugene deserve the best espresso brewing equipment? Yes! There are many rules, principles, techniques, steps, and strategies that all play into “pulling” (brewing) a great shot of espresso. It’s both a discipline and an art that requires study, consistency, flexibility, and experience to achieve. Not to mention the proper, professional equipment.
As a matter of fact, proper espresso extraction is so demanding that unless you patronize one of maybe three or four coffee roasters or espresso houses in Eugene, you likely haven’t had the opportunity to experience a truly excellent shot of espresso! A bold claim, I know. But with 28 years of experience in the Specialty Coffee Industry, having worked as a professional Barista in 30 different retail coffee and espresso businesses throughout the Pacific Northwest, I know what I’m talking about.
I highly recommend visiting the Equiano Coffee Tasting Room in Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood if you haven’t done so yet. Equiano Coffee specializes in sourcing (buying) and roasting the finest small farm, single varietal coffees from around the world. And the tasting room always offers a choice of two different single varietal espressos for you to choose from!
The Art of Espresso
The goal of your barista, when using an espresso machine, is to extract the flavor oils from the coffee beans in a short amount of time. Extracting these flavor oils in such a way that leaves all of the oils intact and producing the espresso coffee’s optimum flavor is where art, science, experience, and quality of equipment all come into play.
Common Problems With Espresso
If your Barista is using old or otherwise sub-par equipment that doesn’t hold the espresso machine’s internal water to the proper temperature, you won’t get an excellent shot of espresso. Too low a temperature won’t be able to extract all of the flavor oils from the ground coffee. Too high a temperature and it will cook and scald those precious oils.
If you’ve had an espresso at Equiano Coffee’s tasting room you’ve probably noticed your Barista meticulously weighing each dosage of coffee grounds for your shot of espresso. This is the only way to ensure that your shot of espresso is properly extracted every time! Just a gram or two shy of the proper dosage will result in an over-extracted and weaker shot that leans to the sour side. A gram or three over the proper dosage will result in an under-extracted shot with unpleasant bitter characteristics.
The name “espresso” itself relates to the pressure, pressing or forcing out of the flavor oils from the ground coffee. In order to force those delicious oils out in the proper amount of time requires an espresso machine that can perform this action at 9 atmospheres of pressure. Simply put, your espresso needs to be extracted with a pressure 9 times that of the naturally occurring pressure present in the earth’s atmosphere!
Timing as it Relates to Degree of Grind
Finally, we come to the critical element that Baristas have the toughest time being consistent with. No, a Barista can’t simply set an espresso machine to extract an espresso shot for one specific number of seconds and then forget about it. That’s because timing an espresso shot is a matter of ratio. Simply put, the degree of grind (the particle size of the coffee grounds) as it relates to the coffee dosage (amount of ground coffee used) will determine the optimum extraction time. Whew!
So how does a Barista keep track of all of this and stay consistent shot-after-shot? They don’t. That’s the sad truth of most Baristas, espresso bars and espresso drive-throughs that we patronize. Unless of course, you’re a well trained, passionate, and professional super-Barista with a decade or more of experience. This is the reason that not just anyone can get a job as Barista at Equiano Coffee’s tasting room, and why your Equiano Baristas take care to weigh each dosage of espresso grounds, and why the tasting room is stocked with the best equipment, from their digital scale and espresso bean grinders to their brand new, state-of-the-art espresso machine!
The Synesso MVP Hydra Espresso Machine
For 2019, Equiano Coffee has taken espresso extraction into the modern age with its brand new, top-of-the-line, and cutting-edge MVP Hydra espresso machine by Synesso! Not to remotely be confused with Starbucks short-lived attempt to take control out of their Barista’s hands with those fully-automatic machines that they tried out for a while. No, quite the opposite. Equiano’s MVP Hydra actually gives your Barista unprecedented control over every aspect, and every step of the extraction process.
The tasting room’s new espresso machine is a beautiful addition to the Whiteaker neighborhood’s cozy little boutique-style specialty coffee cafe with clean lines and an aesthetic that will blow your socks off when you see it. This espresso machine just screams quality.
I had the very good fortune of using this machine when I worked behind the Barista counter at a hip little espresso bar inside Amazon headquarters in downtown Seattle before stepping up to Barista at Equiano Coffee last year. As a passionate, professional Barista who loves delighting coffee and espresso lovers with top-quality drinks, having the opportunity to man the helm of the MVP Hydra was a fun learning experience and a real treat!
This computer programmable espresso machine gives the operator (Barista) control of so many nuanced variables that I can’t take the time to go over them here. Suffice it to say, the Hydra comes with a programmable computer interface kind of like a handheld tablet connected by wires directly to the machine.
Through this control panel, the Barista can calibrate and program each step of the machine’s operation for each different espresso that she happens to be offering at the tasting room on any given day. Each type of coffee bean at each different degree of roast demands its own unique brewing parameters to coax all of the optimum flavors out of it. This is where the Hydra really shines and can outperform any other machine at any other espresso bar, cafe or coffee shop in Eugene!
The Results Are Delicious!
When you pair the best equipment with top-quality ingredients like Eugene’s finest roasted coffees, locally raised dairy, homemade organic Cashew milk, and hand-made chocolate ganache, the outcome is Eugene’s best coffee!
Stop into Equiano Coffee’s tasting room today for an espresso and sparkling water, a cashew milk cappuccino, or chocolate latte, it’s definitely worth the trip to the “Whit”! The tasting room is located at 300 Blair Blvd., next door to Vanilla Jill’s Scoops & Soups.