The espresso machine, used correctly, creates that perfect layer of crema on top. The coffee will have a lot of body, aroma, and flavour to satisfy the most fanatic coffee drinker’s craving. “The perfect espresso” is a combination of the coffee beans’ quality, the espresso machine‘s quality, and the barista‘s skills.

Espresso machines can be pricey, so if you’re going to invest that money, we strongly suggest you ‘up’ your game and learn a few barista skills to make it worthwhile. It can be tricky and takes a bit of trial and error to figure out the optimum extraction pressure and time, water temperature, coffee grind, etc. If only one of your parameters is off, your espresso shot will be pretty average, or even bitter. But when you master the art, the rewards will be a balanced cup, full of flavour and depth in sublime harmony.

Espresso
What you’ll need:
Coffee beans
Espresso machine
Cup
Double basket, bottomless portafilter
Grinder
Scale
Tamper
Timer
Brew Time
25 - 30 seconds

Step 1

Remove your portafilter from the espresso machine’s grouphead. Place it on a scale and set the scale to zero.

Step 2

Flush your grouphead thoroughly with hot water.

Step 3

For a double shot, grind between 18–21g of coffee into your basket. (A single shot should take between 7-10g). The proper grind is fundamental to a good shot. The grind should generally be quite fine, but depending on the beans you are using, you might have to play around with the grind settings. Always grind your coffee just before you pull the shot for the best taste.

Step 4

Distribute the coffee using your forefinger and level the grounds.

Step 5

Place your portafilter on a flat surface and place your tamper on top of the grounds. Apply pressure downward. You don’t need to use too much muscle to tamp—just enough to seal the coffee in evenly. Gently turn the tamper a little to “polish” the grounds for an even extraction.

Step 6

If you are making an Americano, pour some hot water (not boiling) into your cup first. Position the portafilter in the grouphead and press the start button.

Step 7

After the dark syrupy liquid with the crema on top has graced your cup, rinse the portafilter and run a clear stream of water through the machine to make sure the machine is ready for your next cup of the good stuff!

 

Espresso troubleshooting

If it didn’t quite achieve the taste and look you were hoping for see if you can identify your problem here:

My shot tastes sour. This is probably an under-extraction. To fix it,

Increase water temperature OR

Dose less coffee OR

Grind coarser OR

Tamp lighter

My shot tastes bitter. This is called over extraction. To fix it:

Decrease water temperature OR

Dose more coffee OR

Grind finer OR

Tamp harder

My shot tastes weird. Sometimes water doesn't pass through the coffee evenly. To fix it,

Check for "channeling" (holes in wet grounds), THEN

Ensure even distribution AND

Ensure level tamp

My shot is watery. Espresso should have a thick, syrupy body, but achieving this requires a correct brewing ratio, adequate brewing time, and fresh coffee. Miss any of these, and your espresso will be thin. To fix it,

Decrease yield (i.e. volume of coffee extracted) OR

Dose more coffee OR

Grind finer OR

Tamp harder OR

Use fresh coffee (check the roast date at the back of your Pause Coffee pack)

My shot has little-to-no-crema. If you don't see any crema, either the grounds isn't sufficiently resisting the pressurized water or your coffee is just too old. To fix it,

Dose more coffee OR

Grind finer OR

Use fresh coffee

Check the sharpness of grinder blades

Other brewing guides: