My journey toward enjoying coffee has been a long and tedious one. My genes lean heavily toward the coffee-guzzler, so I grew up figuring I would probably end up guzzling too, one day, but it took me longer than anticipated to even appreciate the flavor of coffee.
First, I started to enjoy coffee ice cream. All the delicious flavor I smelled on the beans, without any of the bitterness on the tongue. What more could I ask for? I stayed at the coffee ice cream stage for many years, until I lived in Vienna, world-renowned for it’s coffee houses and for having brought the beverage to the rest of Europe. Soon I found myself able to stomach mochas and lattes, and by the time I came back to the states, I was a regular contributor to my family’s weekend Starbucks order.
A few months ago, our ROK Espresso Machine arrived, and it is this little wonder that has started me on the path to fulfilling my destiny as a coffee guzzler. I have fallen in love, and today I’m going to show you why, while sharing a “recipe” (in quotes, because it’s so obvious!) that I enjoy on a regular basis these days.
This is the ROK! Making a shot of espresso with it takes about five minutes, but makes my day five times classier and more delicious. Here’s how I do it:
Hot water is an obvious necessity. I usually fill a two-cup Pyrex measure with water and microwave it on high for 2-3 minutes, until it’s nice and hot. One shot of espresso will only require about a third of that water; the rest is for prepping and cleaning the machine.
You’ll need an espresso grind, not regular coffee grounds. We buy our beans at Starbucks, and when we’re ready to turn them into espresso, we bring the bag back in to have them grind it for us (you can also do this at home if you have the right equipment). It’s always best to store them in a cool, dry area, preferably in an airtight container that doesn’t let sunlight in.
I am probably years away from appreciating a straight shot of espresso, so I have a couple different “recipes” in rotation. For a flat white*, I like a dairy-to-espresso ratio of a little more than 1-to-1. This means I use about half a cup of dairy (sometimes just milk, but I really love to throw in a splash of cream or half and half, too). I take the edge off with a teaspoon of sugar, and toss the combination in the microwave for about a minute at 70% power while I prep the machine. You’ll see the result below!
Prepping the machine is as simple as popping in an empty basket and an empty espresso cup (or the pyrex, if I’m warming up some milk in the glass I plan to use), and putting hot water through it. This doesn’t make espresso, but it literally warms up the machine, it’s parts, and the cup, all of which create a better drink. Then I remove the basket and shake it out a little bit before packing in as much espresso as I can, and re-attaching it.
To make espresso, I place whatever cup I plan to use underneath the basket, fill the basin at the top with water, and slowly lift the arms. We’ve found it’s best to push down on the arms just until we feel resistance, and the espresso starts to drip, then let it sit for a few seconds so the water really seeps into the powder, before continuing to push the water through. Bring the arms all the way down, then lift them up again to push through all the remaining water. The best way to get crema (the foamy stuff on the top of a regular shot) is to hold the arms firmly down at the end of the second push — the machine will froth a little bit and spit out some wonderful bubbles. You can see how all of this looks below.
Beautiful, am I right? It has ruined me for other coffees. In fact, we’re all so spoiled that we actually brought the ROK along when we went out of town this weekend. Thank god it’s so portable.
Now, cleaning it is a necessary part of the job. Empty out the basket, then run another cup’s worth of water through the machine and back into the Pyrex. Wipe the basket, base, and the strainer (the part that rests on top of the basket) with a paper towel to get out the remaining espresso grounds and dry everything off. Enjoy your drink!