How To Make Espresso

by Dan Harrington on March 25, 2011

Five Steps To Making Perfect Espresso

Here are the five easy-to-follow steps that will allow you to become a Master Barista producing an intense and concentrated Espresso Shot, robust in in its flavor and body bringing out the finest coffee flavors and aromas and with a sweet, well-developed Crema on top.

How To Make Espresso

Step One: Acquire Fine Coffee

The first step in preparing a quality Espresso Shot is acquiring a fine coffee suitable for the purpose. Over time you will be able to sample a wide variety of premium gourmet coffees and will gain an understanding of how the world’s finest coffees differ depending upon the qualities of the prime coffee-growing regions where the beans are cultivated.

At this stage it also helps to have a general knowledge of coffee roast types. Most espresso coffees are given a Dark Roast, also known as an Espresso Roast.

There is some personal preference when it comes to Roasting though generally an espresso roast is quite dark, and the roast may also vary depending upon the particular variety of coffee beans being used (e.g., certain varieties of beans require more roasting to remove bitterness).

Step Two: Prepare To Brew the Espresso

First make sure you have ground the coffee to the proper grind size and that you follow the proper technical specifications for brewing Espresso. Pre-warm the demitasse. Also see The Perfect Grind for the Perfect Shot.

If possible use filtered water. For more discussion of the water you use see Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee.

Step Three: Tamp the Coffee Into the Portafilter

Now use two tablespoons of ground coffee and tamp it into the portafilter with a slight twisting motion that will help seal the cup. Compact the coffee firmly so that there are no weak spots where the water can blow through leading to under-extraction and a weak, watery shot.

Make sure the top surface of the coffee is very even and level, and also brush off the rim so that the portafilter fits securely as it is locked into the group of the espresso machine. Place the pre-warmed beneath the spout and hit the brew button. Aren’t you excited you are learning how to make espresso!

How To Make Espresso continued: Brewing Perfect Espresso continued:

Step Four: Monitor the Espresso Extraction Process

As the Espresso pours out it should be the color of maple syrup. A typical extraction time for an espresso shot is about 22 seconds. The goal is to extract a full-flavored shot but not too long as it may extract too much of the coffee’s bitter components.

On the top of a fine Espresso shot is a thin, light brown layer called the Crema which contains the espresso’s sweetness and retains its intensity. The body of the espresso shot should be dark brown in color, while the heart at the bottom will be slightly lighter.

Step Five: Troubleshoot the Espresso Brewing Process

Fine tune your brewing process by analyzing the Espresso shot. If the espresso flows too slow from the spout when the espresso is brewing it may be that you tamped the coffee too firmly or used to fine of a grind size.

Conversely if the espresso comes out to fast and appears watery then you may have used too coarse of a grind size or may have been tamped too loosely. Once you fine tune the grind size, tamping pressure and brewing time you will have the perfect espresso shot.

If the espresso shot is topped with a white ring it means that you used too long of an extraction time. This white ring signals that bitterness has been extracted and it will create a very unpleasant, acidic shot. To remedy this use a shorter extraction time.

Once you master the skills of pulling the perfect espresso shot see Steaming Milk/Aerating Foam so you can create creamy, velvety foam for delicious Espresso Coffee Drinks.

Thank You for reading How To Make Espresso!


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