The derryX Espresso Experience

Those of you who brave the Jersey Shore reviews here have noticed that I start watching every episode with a nice double espresso just like they do in Italy.

Today, I’m gonna take you into the world of what I’m calling “The derryX Espresso Experience.”

Here’s the setup:

I currently have a Breville Café Modena machine, equipped with a 15 bar (218 PSI) pump and cup heater. Those of you who have been following from the very beginning know I was having a pretty nasty fight with my old espresso maker when I started this blog.

I have my very nWo, very derryX, and very cool espresso cup and saucer, painted by yours truly at The Pottery Place in Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany.

And, of course, I have a bag of freshly ground espresso blend beans from Uncommon Grounds. Yes, I know that they’re no longer freshly ground by now and that the quality diminishes every minute, no, every second, the grounds sit in that bag. Look, I don’t have money to fiddle with a burr grinder right now. But, if you’d like to donate to the cause, this one will work (I’ll even make the first cup just for you). The point is I like to get my coffee beans (ground or whole) at Uncommon Grounds, and that’s for a number of reasons. Ethically, they are good about dealing in fair trade beans; ecologically, they claim to try to deal with shade-grown beans, which means the beans are grown in ways that do not have a negative impact on the environment. Practically, they are local and sell the best beans I have ever personally used for espresso. That last reason alone should be enough.

After I let the pump and heating element warm up, I prime the pump by pulling 6 volumes of water through. I get my (approximately) 16 grams of finely ground espresso into the portafilter, press down on it with my fancy tamper with about 40 pounds of pressure,

…and I enjoy a nice cup of fresh espresso.

…and sometimes I watch Jersey Shore after that. Sue me.

You’ll notice that it looks pretty light. Well, a properly pulled espresso has a decent layer of less water soluble organic oils on top. This is named “crema” and is probably the best part of the espresso. I can assure you, however, that what lies under the crema is a strong, dark, tasty cup of the finest espresso this side of the University of Albany.

…and I love every damn drop, every damn time!


4 thoughts on “The derryX Espresso Experience

  • James

    I also used to own a Breville espresso machine before upgrading. Two quick cheap tips will drastically improve the quality of your espresso. First, your machine heats the water by passing it through a hot metal block. If your reservoir is filled with cold tap water, you quickly suck all the heat out of the metal and the temp drops at the end of your shot causing the extraction of some undesirable compounds and a cooler cup. Try filling the reservoir with your hottest tap water or microwaving the water so that the extraction temp is more consistent. Second, these machines come with “pressurized portafilter” baskets which force all the espresso through one tiny hole on the underside of the basket. Investing in a traditional basket from Breville (~$10), will help immensely with the depth of flavor in your shots. One last piece of advice, if you’re going to go for an electric burr grinder, you are wasting your time with anything under ~$150. A Hario Skerton hand grinder will blow the doors off any electric you can buy at a major retailer and costs only about ~$50.

    • derryX

      Thanks for the tips, James. The hot water tip is a really good point, and something that Honestly didn’t even occur to me. I’ll give it a shot!

      As for the burr grinder, input like that are the reason I haven’t bought one yet. If I’m gonna do it, I want to do it right!

  • Daniel B.

    In fact the crema is critical. You know this, but I’ll mention it explicitly for your readers…

    If you get a shot of espresso at a cafe and it is presented to you without a full layer of crema on top, you are well within your rights to send it back and ask them to make it again.

    It’s akin to ordering a Boston creme donut only to realize it contains no filling.


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