– Espresso Machine
– FILTERED Water (bad quality water can affect the taste of your espresso and even damage your machine)
– Fresh Coffee
Before you even begin, be sure to preheat your machine, portafilter and cup by pulling a ‘blank’ shot, which means running water through the portafilter and cup without using espresso. Depending on your espresso machine, it make take 15-30 minutes to heat up.
Step 1: Grind
Always grind fresh whole beans right before brewing [this goes for any and every brew method]. The grind texture is an important aspect of shot quality. Too fine a grind will cause a slow, over-extracted shot that can taste bitter and burnt. Too coarse a grind will result in an under-extracted shot that is weak, watery and tastes sour.
The ideal grind texture you are looking for is something similar to that of granulated sugar, but to know for sure, you will need to test out your grinder and machine [as well as base it off your own personal preference].
Step 2: Dose
The dose refers to the amount of coffee you will need to fill the portafilter to make your espresso shot. The dose for a “double-shot” [the most common way espresso is made] should be between 14 – 18 grams [this also depends on your espresso machine and personal preference].
Step 3: Tamp
Tamping ensures uniformity of extraction by leveling and packing the grounds to ensure equal and consistent water contact is forced through the coffee. The proper tamp method is to hold your elbow at 90 degrees, rest your portafilter on a level surface and then apply pressure until the coffee has an even, polished look. Note: coarser grounds will require a firmer tamp than finer grounds.
Step 4: Brew
Place the portafilter into your machine’s brew head and place your preheated cup beneath it. Grab a timer and time your shot – this is critical to learning how to pull a perfect shot. Initiate the pull and watch carefully!
If the dose, grind and tamp are ideal, the first part of the brew should be be dark before it turns to a golden brown/foamy mixture that flows into the cup in a thin stream [without breaking]. The volume of water for each shot should be 1 oz. – so after your double shot has reached 2 oz., stop the shot and check your timer. The ideal brewing time you’re looking for is between 20 – 30 seconds – if you’re running too long or too short, check your grind, dose and tamp, then adjust it accordingly. If your shots are coming out unevenly from both spouts, your tamp needs to be more even.
You want to create a fine golden crema (that foamy mixture) that rests above a rich dark brew. Mix the crema in right before drinking.
All machines and all people are different, so practice and experiment. Following these general guidelines will help ensure your shot is pulled properly, but playing around with grinds and such is all up to personal taste preference.