It is said that 22 seconds is the optimum time for water to be pressed, at high pressure, through a group handle and squeeze out dark full flavoured espresso topped with a head of tight foamed crema. Now, to stop there and say that 22 seconds is all that is necessary for a champion espresso would be very wrong, in fact, it may only be a couple of steps behind sacrilege. Let’s be honest, it is a combination of extraction time, tamping, water type – bear with us if this means nothing to you– machine cleanliness, bean type, bean age, grind size. But for the coffee lover in you, knowing when to stop the machine and ensure that your espresso isn’t diluted by too much water – 22 seconds is a tasty place to stop at.
If you have a small espresso machine at home and you’re able to programme the machine with various extraction times, between 20 – 25 seconds should do it. It’s great knowing that you could be 22 seconds away from enjoying the smooth taste of roasted Arabica beans, with a little head of golden crema. The espresso with 4 or 5 millimetres of crema should be enough, and it usually is, but sometimes a small spoon of milk foam will give you a treat of drink. It is perfectly balanced by the deep tones of espresso with the natural sweetness of milk foam – The Espresso Macchiato has to be one of my favourites.
What do you think is the optimum time for extraction? How do you manage to get the thickest crema on your espresso? Feedback your comments below.