Americano Perfectly Temped Water, Etc.

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
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boar_d_laze

#1: Post by boar_d_laze »

Something Dan wrote in his review of the Alex Duetto made me think that it was worth posting this idiosyncratic set of instructions (which may work for your particular circumstances, or not).
  • Pull a double shot into an appropriate 6oz mug or glass
  • Remove the pf from the head;
  • Knock the puck into the knock box;
  • Give the basket a quick rinse with water from the tap;
  • Replace the pf; and
  • Run temped brew water through the pf into the cup.

There is no need for too hot water from your machine's tap, nor the trouble of preparing water separately when water of exactly the same temperature of the water used to brew the shot -- perfectly temped water because you just perfectly temped it your own damn self -- is right in front of you.

If you like your Americanos sweetened, try prepping your cup with sugar (or sweetener in the empty cup) and pulling a little water onto it before pulling the shot itself so you start with simple syrup instead adding sugar at the end. It makes for a smoother texture -- and no need for stirring. It's an especially good idea if you make long blacks.

My wife likes her "Americano" with cream and sugar. "Americano" in quotes, because it's evolved into something which isn't an Americano.

I start with simple syrup into a Bodum Assam tumbler, add cream, build what's very close to a long black on top of them (i.e., more water, then pull the shot on top of that), and finish -- finally -- with a splash of hot water. That last splash mixes everything -- remember the Assam makes the entire drink visible -- while leaving a nicely swirled top. Crema is compromised of course, but people who like cream and sugar usually aren't that moved by perfect crema. At least Linda isn't.

:oops: With all the starting and stopping involved in making Linda's drink, it's easiest to pull a little hot water from the tap into a steaming pitcher and work with that rather than screwing around with hot water from the head.

BDL

PS. More :oops: After Dan's post, I made some changes in the first part of this one to address his many well-taken points.
Drop a nickel in the pot Joe. Takin' it slow. Waiter, waiter, percolator

SchillerM

#2: Post by SchillerM »

I have had issues with my water side of my steam wand, so I have tried just using the PF water, works well.. What I have found to be easier, and makes it faster to assemble after shot is pulled, is like you said at end, steam tap (well Brita for me) water. I turn on the steam (only about 1/4 volume) when I and about to tamp. By the time I tamp, and pull the shot my water is at temp. Can immediately assemble drink.

Going to try the cream& sugar Americano this weekend with the wife. I suck at steaming milk, so hopefully I can stop making whatever a failed attempt of a latte is. Then once I get the espresso side dialed in I will worry about milk..

There is probably something wrong with this, but its worked well for us for a number of years... When brewing a pot of coffee we add the sugar to the filter with the coffee. Dissolves it right into the pot. Have done same brew without doing that and sugaring to taste, end result is the same.

What is the "proper" temperature for water in an Americano? I have been doing mine to 150ish so I can drink it sooner.

Matt

fluke

#3: Post by fluke »

as a side comment, I was at a local cafe recently (one of those small places one likes, patronises, but more for location, personality but not necessarily for particularly refined espresso) and was a little taken back to see the americano technique. They basically pulled two lungos without removing the portafilter - double-extracted. :roll:

The next time I'm up there, I'll order one, and see if they use the same technique. And ask them where they picked it up from, and please not do it again.... :(

Dan Bollinger

#4: Post by Dan Bollinger »

After I knock the puck I begin running water through the grouphead to rinse the screen and PF, then, with water still running, attach the PF and slide the mug under to catch heated water for the Americano. The downside is that you've chilled the PF slightly, so recovery for the next shot can take longer, depending on your machine.

Another advantage of using brew water is that it is fresher. Water from the steam boiler is often stale and mineralized, depending on your maintenance schedule.

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HB
Admin

#5: Post by HB »

boar_d_laze wrote:There is no need for too hot water from your machine's tap, nor the trouble of preparing water separately when water of exactly the same temperature of the water used to brew the shot -- perfectly temped water because you just perfectly temped it your own damn self -- is right in front of you.
Problem is, drawing 6-8 ounces of water through the grouphead will crater the temperature stability of any home espresso machine that comes to mind. Even a commercial one group espresso machine would struggle to recover from that long a draw within 1 minute, at which point the "perfectly temped" water has cooled below serving temperature (especially if the cup wasn't preheated).
boar_d_laze wrote:...it's easiest to pull a little hot water from the tap into a steaming pitcher and work with that rather than screwing around with hot water from the head.
Good point, most prosumer espresso machines can heat water from room temperature to coffee serving temperature in 45 seconds or less using the steam wand. I'll update the review commentary to suggest that approach, i.e., fill small pitcher from sink, use steam wand to heat it to ~165°F, add to just-poured espresso.
Dan Kehn

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RapidCoffee
Team HB

#6: Post by RapidCoffee »

The no-brainer solution for hot water is an electric kettle. :wink:
John

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boar_d_laze (original poster)

#7: Post by boar_d_laze (original poster) »

HB wrote:Problem is, drawing 6-8 ounces of water through the grouphead will crater the temperature stability of any home espresso machine that comes to mind. Even a commercial one group espresso machine would struggle to recover from that long a draw within 1 minute, at which point the "perfectly temped" water has cooled below serving temperature (especially if the cup wasn't preheated).
Brew temp and dilution/serving temp are not the same thing. The first is around 200F, the second between 175 and 160F. So some cratering is acceptable.

The quantity of water necessary for an Americano is less like "6-8 ounces of water" and more like 3-1/2fl oz (or at least it should be), because you're starting with a 2fl oz shot in a 6fl oz glass (or mug), and leaving enough room for cream, sugar and stirring. Ozzie/Kiwi style long blacks are typically made with a similar dilution rate of 1-1/2 : 1 water to coffee by volume.

The time it takes to clean the basket after the shot, and to get the pf back in the head allows some recovery time. Enough recovery time? Enough for my machine. You're right, I forgot about machines which are slower to recover.

Another thing I forgot about is that some people like big drinks, especially in the antipodes. For example, a "typical" long black is made with two double shots of coffee. So we're looking at around 100ml of coffee on top of (wait for it) 150ml of water. And yeah, that's a lot of water -- way too much to pull from the group immediately before pulling two doubles as fast you can.

Drawing water from the machine's tap into a steaming pitcher and using that is more convenient than a separate kettle. If the home barista's machine doesn't have enough boiler capacity to do more than a couple of drinks, then a temp-stabilized kettle (like a Bonavita Variable) might be useful for someone making more than a few Americano / long blacks in succession.

A side benefit of using the hot water tap is refreshing the water in the boiler. It makes for better tasting water and steam.

And in any case, this is a worthwhile discussion.

BDL
Drop a nickel in the pot Joe. Takin' it slow. Waiter, waiter, percolator

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happycat

#8: Post by happycat »

boar_d_laze wrote: A side benefit of using the hot water tap is refreshing the water in the boiler. It makes for better tasting water and steam.
I've always (perhaps incorrectly) assumed that water sitting in my water heater might not be as fresh as the cold stuff... mineral buildup and whatnot. Granted I am part of a couple, not a family using up tons of the stuff. I guess a test would be to fill a cup with hot and a cup with cold, wait for them to reach the same temp then taste.
LMWDP #603

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JohnB.
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#9: Post by JohnB. »

happycat wrote:I've always (perhaps incorrectly) assumed that water sitting in my water heater might not be as fresh as the cold stuff... mineral buildup and whatnot.
As Rich mentioned using the boiler water daily will help keep it refreshed. I use the hot water tap to fill our Buono kettle every morning for syphon brewing & to rinse my PF/cups throughout the day so the steam boiler water stays pretty "fresh". For Americanos I use the Tea water function which mixes cold fresh water with the steam boiler water.
LMWDP 267

mfogliet

#10: Post by mfogliet »

Americano is my go to drink on weekday mornings. I used to steam to 160F but that was unnecessary noise. On my old Rocket I used 3 parts boiler water to 1 part cold water from the fridge dispenser. With the Elektra I have distilled in the boiler so an electric kettle provides the hot water that I mix with cold. If I fill the kettle with only what is needed and get it going before my shot making routine the water is boiling just in time.

I've never measured the temperature after mixing but it is perfect to start drinking right away. A double shot goes overtop and nothing else.