Pulling an espresso is both art and precise science, where even the slightest change can make or break a shot. To help along both those that have just graced their benches with a shiny new espresso machine and those that have been in the business for years, we’ve put together this brew guide full of advice on how to get your Killer Coffee espresso shot tasting just the way you like it.

Before we begin: Be Consistent!

Be exact, be consistent. Make sure you’re doing things the exact same way with each pull, and when you’re experimenting make sure you’re changing just one thing at a time. This way, you’ll learn exactly how your espresso changes with each tweak, leading you closer to your perfect recipe.

Brew Temperature

Let’s start with the most common pitfall for folks looking to brew their cup of Killer Coffee: brew temperature. Generally speaking you want your brew temperature to be between 92 to 95 degrees Celsius when pulling an espresso shot, and even small differences in brew temperature can change the taste balance and aroma of an espresso shot.
94 degrees Celsius is one of the more common settings home baristas like to use, but is very unsuitable for our Killer Coffee blends. When brewing up a cup of Killer Coffee Industrial Strength or Darkerside we recommend a brew temperature of 92.5 degrees Celsius. Dark roasted blends like ours are quick to burn at higher temperatures: anything above 93 degrees and you’ll get that unpleasant bitterness and dry, ashy aftertaste.

Adjusting your Dose

A higher dose of coffee will give you a full-bodied brew with intense taste, but might result in too much acidity. A lower ratio (lower dose, higher yield) can draw more flavour from the coffee but risks over-extraction, leaving a thin-bodied, burnt-tasting brew.
A 1:2 coffee to water ratio is a good start for balanced flavour and clarity. The exact ratio you’re looking for depends on taste – if you wanted a stronger cup, try upping your dose half a gram at a time until you get the coffee kick you’re looking for.

How coarse or fine you need to grind

Extraction Time and Grind Settings

Espresso generally runs at between 25 – 35 seconds, depending on the roast level and origins of the blend. With our Killer Coffee blends, we find 30 seconds (give or take 2) does the trick.
Slower risks over-extracting your coffee, causing a burnt or acidic brew and dry aftertaste like mentioned above, while quicker can lead to a watery, sour, under-extracted shot.
Our ‘Ground for Espresso’ option should work well for espresso machines, but if you’re grinding your own beans you might end up having to adjust how finely you’ve ground your coffee to meet that 30 second goal. Finer ground coffee will lengthen the brew time, while coarser ground coffee makes for shorter extraction.

When To Stop Extraction

The flavour of an espresso shot comes in thirds: simplified, the first part is acidic, the second part is sweet, and the third part is bitter. The end result is a complex mix of all the parts, and knowing when you should stop extraction to achieve your perfect balance can take practice.
One conventional point to watch for is ‘blonding’: you want to stop your shot before it begins turning from rich brown to light yellow. Another visual cue is when the flow starts to thin out and shake, signifying that you’ve drawn out all the good stuff from your coffee.

The Killer Coffee Espresso

Putting it all together, here’s what we suggest when brewing your Killer Coffee with an espresso machine:

Killer Coffee Industrial Strength (1:1.8 ratio)
Dose: 22g
Yield: 40g
Extraction Time: 30 seconds (give or take 2 seconds).
Temperature: 92.5 degrees Celsius

Killer Coffee Darkerside (1:1.75 ratio)
Dose: 21g
Yield: 37g
Extraction Time: 30 seconds (give or take 2 seconds).
Temperature: 92.5 degrees Celsius

We suggest using this as a starting point – playing around with the variables to fit your taste is part of the fun! Here’s a quick summary of how you might achieve your perfect balance:
To increase body: Increase dose or decrease yield.
To reduce sourness: Increase extraction time or temperature.
To reduce acidity: Decrease dose or increase yield.
To reduce bitterness: Decrease extraction time or temperature, or increase dose, or decrease yield.

Try tweaking one thing at a time, making small adjustments until you find your own personal recipe for the best Killer Coffee espresso shot.

How do you brew your Killer Coffee? We’d love to hear of you and your espresso machine’s exploits – let us know in the comments below!