Hey! Joel here. We get asked quite a lot about how to brew the perfect espresso at home. I'll be honest, I've been in coffee for over 15 years and I still sometimes make a few small mistakes in preparation and brew a 'not-so-ideal' espresso at home. However, if you follow the steps below, I guarantee you'll be brewing delicious espresso coffee at home in no time.
Brewing espresso can be challenging, and sometimes, a little frustrating, but with the right tools and techniques, you can create delicious specialty coffee drinks at home. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to brew espresso.
Gather your equipment
Measure your coffee
Place a small cup/shot glass onto your scales and weigh out your whole beans. It's best to find out the size of your portafilter basket (found in the instruction manual of your coffee machine) which will let you accurately weigh out the correct amount of coffee that will fit into the basket.
For example, weigh out 19g of whole beans for an 18g shot. Most grinders will retain ground coffee, so we want to dose up a little bit extra in case this happens.
Grind your coffee
Place your whole beans into the grinder and start by grinding your coffee beans to a fine, even texture. A consistent grind is important for extracting maximum flavour from your coffee. Aim for a grind size similar to table salt.
Tip: Make sure to grind into the small cup/shot glass used to weigh out the whole beans. We want to weigh the ground coffee and make sure we've got 18g.
Purge your machine
Before brewing, it's important to purge your machine to remove any stale water or coffee grounds that may have built up inside. You can also use this as an opportunity to heat up your portafilter. We want the coffee machine to be hot, which also means we want the portafilter to be hot too, creating temperature consistency. A drop in temperature can create a different extraction and flavour to your coffee.
Load your portafilter basket
Next, load your ground coffee into the portafilter and tamp it down with the tamper to create a compact puck.
Extract your espresso
Place the portafilter into the machine and place your coffee scales and desired cup on the drip tray. We want to measure the yield (amount of coffee) in the cup, so we can track and ensure consistency when it comes to the extraction.
Tip: a great starting point is a 2:1 ratio (eg. 18g of ground coffee to 36g of extracted espresso)
Start the extraction process and aim for an extraction time of 20-30 seconds, depending on your taste preferences.
Tip: if your extraction time is faster, you'll get more of an acidic flavour profile, and if your extraction time is longer, you'll get more of a bold/bitter profile. Ideally, you want a balanced flavour profile (not too sour or not too bitter) to get the most out of the coffee. Play around with different grind sizes (courser for quicker shots and finer for longer shots) and taste the difference.
Serve and enjoy
If you're making a specialty coffee drink like a latte or cappuccino, you can use your extracted espresso as the base and add steamed milk and foam to your liking.
Remember, the key to brewing great espresso is to practice and experiment until you find the right balance of grind size, extraction time, and coffee-to-water ratio that works for you. With some patience and experimentation, you'll be able to create delicious specialty coffee drinks at home.
Want to know the recipe I'm using at home?
Coffee: Here Comes The Sun Blend
Yield: 40g if drinking with milk or 50g without milk.
Extraction time: 29 secs