Making Espresso With A Home Espresso Machine

by Regina

As anyone who’s ever tried to make the perfect espresso knows, it’s not as easy as it looks. There are a ton of different elements at play, from the temperature to the right amount of beans ground just so. If any of those elements are anything less than perfect, you’re in danger of winding up with bitter, undrinkable sludge instead of the ultimate espresso that evokes memories of your summer in Italy.

But fear not. As the old adage goes, practice makes perfect. To help you reach perfection sooner, we’ve compiled this handy list of tips that will help you whip up the best espresso you’ve ever had without leaving your own cozy kitchen. Goodbye, morning runs to the coffee house!

If you’re lucky enough to have your own espresso machine, you’re more likely to wind up with a coffee house quality espresso than your stovetop-using counterparts. See what the best espresso machines under $200 are.

1. Grind your beans just before brewing. For espresso, you’ll want to select a fine grind setting. Don’t use the same setting as you would for brewed coffee – that would be much coarser than you’d want for a proper espresso.

2. Pour cold water into the water chamber. Making Espresso recommends using one tablespoon of ground beans for each ounce of water, and warns that anything less precise will throw off your espresso shot.

3. Pack the beans evenly into the coffee basket, and level off the top to avoid any overflow.

4. Press the coffee with a tamper to ensure the beans are evenly distributed in the basket.

5. Let your machine work its magic. Once the foam, or “crema” at the top of your espresso starts looking more white than brown, remove your cup and savor your perfect creation!

If you don’t have an espresso machine, an espresso can also be made by using a moka pot. Click here to find out how.

How to Use Your Espresso Machine to Make Perfect Espresso At Home

by Regina

Espresso is a touchy subject in the coffee industry. You can learn “the only correct way” from a ton of different sources and somehow, they always seem to differ. The honest answer is that there is no one way to make espresso that is universal and works for every espresso machine. Espresso machines are touchy and each one has a “best practices” list in order that you can make great espresso.

The 5 most important factors to pulling perfect espresso shots are: Water Pressure, Extraction Time, Water Temperature, Grind Consistency, and Tamping. If any one of these are off, your shots will lose a lot of flavor and you won’t enjoy your end espresso drink. For perfect espresso shots, all of these need to be set exactly right. Some of these are out of your control, however. The goal is to strive for perfection in all of these things and get as close as you can – or, if you can justify it, find a new machine that will allow you to achieve that perfection.

1. Water Pressure: It’s ironic that many home machines don’t output the proper water pressure. This is actually one of the most crucial parts to brewing great tasting espresso – yet many home machines are not calibrated, mis-calibrated, or not even capable of the proper water pressure. It’s important that you get 9 bars of water pressure.

2. Extraction Time: This is a fairly hotly contested subject in the industry. Ultimately, it depends on the espresso beans you are using in your machine. For our beans, we recommend a 25 – 30 second extraction time. This means that once you push the button on your espresso machine to start the extraction process, within the first 5 seconds, you should see liquid coming out of your portafilter into the cup. From that point, your shot should take no longer than 25 seconds to finish.

3. Water Temperature: Your water temperature should be around 94˚C or 201˚F. A variance of around 2 or 3 degrees in either direction won’t negatively affect your flavor so it doesn’t have to be “on the dot”. Just make sure you are conscious of keeping your machine’s temperature in that area.

4. Grind Consistency: Grind consistency and tamping (#5 below) are both big pieces to great espresso that interplay with each other a little bit. To ensure you have the best grind for pulling perfect espresso shots, you want to calibrate your grinder based on the extraction time and tamping.

5. Tamping: For prefect espresso shots, it’s recommended that you add about 5lbs. of tamp pressure (initially) and then achieve 30lbs. of even tamp pressure after cleaning the grounds from the edge of the portafilter back into the basket.