How to make espresso with 9barista
This is a quick post on my new coffee kit, the 9barista, after several people asked about it. If you just want quick tips on how to use it then see immediately below. If you want more info on what it is, how it works, and whether it’s for you then see the end of the post.
Temperature: I have a gas hob. I use the second smallest hob on full temperature. I initially tried on the smallest/coldest hob but the 9barista didn’t get up to pressure in time.
Baseplate: I have to use the supplied baseplate because I have a gas hob. I’ve found that preheating the baseplate whilst preparing the 9barista reduces the extraction time to 3 minutes and creates my favourite results.
Water: I use filtered water because I live in a hard water area (London). I filter my water using a charcoal stick.
Coffee grounds: I grind the beans finely, as you’d normally do to espresso. However, I use the coarser-end of espresso grind. I am currently using Square Mile’s Red Brick seasonal espresso beans, own a Sage Smart Grinder Pro and use setting ‘17’. My grinder costs around £200 in the UK at time of writing. I think that Sage is called ‘Breville’ in countries outside the UK.
Other than this, I follow the instructions that come with the 9barista:
- you can see a summary of my first few attempts in this thread on Twitter
- you can also see James Hoffman’s guide and review on Youtube. Using the above method, the espresso starts coming through after about 2 ½ minutes and finishes after about 3 minutes. Espresso should take between 3 and 5-6 minutes to come through, and should never be on the heat for more than 8 minutes.
I’m getting good espresso with 3 minutes of heating and 1-2 minutes of preparation. Pretty impressive.
Frequently asked questions
What is a 9barista?
I’d describe a 9barista as a moka pot (or stove top pot) with a cleverly engineered, additional section that builds up enough pressure to create genuine espresso.
What is genuine espresso?
Genuine espresso needs 9 bars of pressure. This normally requires a traditional espresso machine. Other brewing methods like moka pot and aeropress that claim to create espresso don’t really produce espresso because they don’t generate enough pressure.
Why have I bought a 9barista?
I love espresso, it’s my favourite type of coffee. In the past I have made it using my Gaggia Classic espresso machine but in 2020 I became a dad and no longer have the time or space to use the Gaggia. It takes a while to warm up, and most of our kitchen top is now taken up with baby stuff. I’ve been using a moka pot for several months because it produces something a bit like espresso but in much less time and requiring much less space. However, I missed genuine espresso. Nothing beats the intensity of the flavour for me. So I was pleased to see my niche set of needs being met by the 9barista, a machine that is (kind of) a moka pot with an additional section that creates sufficient pressure to produce espresso.
How does espresso from 9barista compare with a traditional espresso machine?
I own a Gaggia Classic with some modifications and it is capable of creating espresso better than the 9barista. But not every time. The 9barista is capable of creating good espresso every time, based on a week’s use creating 1-2 shots per day. My Gaggia Classic has more things that I can vary when making espresso so allows me more scope to experiment and tweak. The flipside is that it allows more scope to go wrong. The 9barista only has one moving part and the only thing you can really vary is the grind size of the coffee beans. It has a lot less scope to tweak and improve. But the flipside is that it’s relatively easy and consistent. Based on 1 week of 1-2 espresso per day, I’ve got better shots overall than I did with my Gaggia Classic, to be honest. 9barista produces significantly better espresso then I’ve ever had from a capsule espresso machine.
Who would I recommend a 9barista to?
I think a 9barista is worth considering if you
- Mainly make espresso for yourself: making espresso for yourself using a traditional espresso machine requires letting the machine heat up first, then maybe 1-2 shots to get it working well. It takes effort. 9barista doesn’t require this effort. Flipside is that it is not suitable for making espresso for several people (in my opinion), it’s not what the 9barista is designed for and would be impractical.
- Aren’t too fussed about steaming milk: I mainly drink espresso without milk at the moment. When I do have steamed milk, I’m happy to heat the milk in a saucepan and use a French Press to froth it. But if you regularly have your espresso with steamed milk then I don’t think 9barista is practical unless you have a separate way of steaming milk.
- Want espresso, don’t want to learn how to use a traditional espresso machine, but don’t want a capsule machine: Making your own espresso at home using a traditional machine is a hobby and requires skills and practice. Most people can’t be bothered by this. Capsule machines allow espresso at home very easily but the results are not as good as from freshly ground beans. 9barista is a sweetspot between then two. You get consistent results better than a capsule machine but with less effort than a traditional espresso machine.
- Can afford £300 for the 9barista, around £200 for a decent grinder, and aren’t in a hurry: 9barista costs around £300 at time of writing. That is a lot of money for coffeee kit. It’s less than most traditional espresso machines (decent ones start at around £500) and is a fair price for what you get. But is still a lot of money. The company behind the 9barista is still small and all units are hand made to order (at time of writing) so it may take a couple of months to receive your order. You’re also likely to need a decent grinder if you don’t already have one, which is likely to be another £200.