Enjoying a cup of coffee is one of life’s simple pleasures, and to make it a great cup, there are four key elements that have to be considered. These are known by the experts as the 4M’s of espresso.
The grinder used to powder the coffee beans. It has to grind them to a perfect point: too thick and they won’t release all their coffee goodness, too thin and the powder will pass through the filters and end up in your cup giving it a terrible texture. Also, it’s vital to grind the right amount of coffee for a proper espresso: 6 to 7 grams per shot. And last but not least, it has to be ground fresh on the spot, because once done, the aroma and flavour starts to decay just after 30 seconds (so, if you order a coffee and they don’t grind it in front of you, consider it a big red flag).
The coffee beans blend. Even though good beans won’t guarantee good coffee, bad beans will make bad coffee for sure. It has to be stored properly (dark, dry and covered container) and of course, be made of high quality material. The arabica beans are known as the finest (their counterpart, robusta, is less expensive but rougher on the palate).
The espresso machine, which has to be properly calibrated to extract the espresso shot. This means, that water should reach a temperature of 88 °C and a pressure of 15 psi (pounds per square inch).
The “mano” (italian for hand) of the barista is the fourth M for great coffee. The barista’s skill and precision will be necessary for everything else to work (or fail!), his mano will grind the beans in a timely manner, store them and treat them with care, and operate the machine to get the best out of it.
Assuming that all 4M’s are taken care of, and we could add a fifth “M” to make your coffee even better, we’d say Moment. Just think about it: You have technology (macinazione and macchina), nature (miscela) and skill (mano) converging to give you something special in that cup, now it’s up to you to take a moment to realize how amazing that is and truly enjoy its content, feel its aroma, taste it and appreciate how simple it seems and yet how much passion and effort goes into it.