Right we will talk about the bean first. The bean itself, ideally it should be used within 3 weeks of roasting. It is best not to keep the beans in the fridge as they are porous they can absorb other flavours and also will inhibit the natural oils, just keep them in a cool place and in a sealed dry container if not in the grinding hopper.
The ‘crème’ comes from the oil excreted from the bean when roasted, try and buy a bean that has the honey coated look and that coupled by the correct grind and hard even tamp will give you the nice thick ‘crème’. A dry bean will reduce crème as well.
So to summarise –
• Nice shiny bean
• Correct grind
• Tap to get the grind flat in the handle. Lightly tamp then tamp 30lbs of pressure finishing off with a polish
• Use grind within 30 minutes
• If you don’t know when the bean was roasted buy enough for a week to 10 days. Tip - plenty of online shops selling them freshly roasted to order.
• A shot of espresso should take 20-30 seconds to dispense. Time it from when it first starts to come out. Adjust the grinder accordingly.
• The ‘puck’ should be dry and crumbly in about 15-30 sec after you have taken it off the machine to look at it. No blow holes; if there is it indicates either not enough coffee in there to tamp or a bad tamp. Too wet and your grind will need adjusting.
• Spend the next 6 months like me trying to find the perfect bean (which I have just found).
What a load of hassle but when you get it right it’s a dream. Don’t forget that there is training required to become a coffee maker in a proper coffee house so don’t expect perfect results first time, it takes practice.