THE SKILLS


The name Gaggia is almost
synonymous with espresso.

I t was Italian bartender Achille Gaggia's skill and passion to produce the most delicious coffee in Milan that led to the invention of the crema layer – the measure of the perfect espresso.

The coffee connoisseur knew there was no singular pleasure in life greater than this diminutive drink: it's visual allure, rich aroma, seductive froth and lingering after-taste. But creating the perfect espresso shot requires patience, precision and practice. Master the art, however, and it will soon become a sacred daily ritual.

E SPRESSO - FLOW RATE

Brewing an espresso takes between 25 and 30 seconds. We call this the flow rate - the speed at which the water flows through the portafilter. If the flow rate is too fast, the coffee has been ground too coarse, resulting in under-extraction. In this case, you need to change your coffee grinder to a finer setting. This reduces the space between the coffee grounds making it harder for the water to pass through. If your flow rate is too slow - known as over-extraction - adjust the grinder to a coarser setting. The only way to set the correct flow rate is by experimenting with different grinds.

E SPRESSO - EXTRACTION

Once the water starts flowing, two things should happen. First, the espresso should flow out off the machine in a slow but steady stream, resembling a 'mouse tail'. Secondly, the colour of the stream should change from dark to light as the water extracts the oils from the grounds. The sour flavours are extracted within the first few seconds; the bitter elements are extracted from the last part of the shot. When the stream starts to dance, your shot is ready.

E SPRESSO - CLEANING THE PORTAFILTER

Rinse the portafiltro and dry with a clean cloth after every use. It should always be left in the machine - even when not in use - so it maintains the correct temperature.