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Creating a perfect espresso with an espresso machine requires careful attention to detail and a bit of practice. Here’s a step-by-step guide to making espresso using an espresso machine:

Brew Method: Pressure
Grind Setting: Fine
Estimated Time: 2 min


Step 1: Gather Your Materials

Espresso Machine: Check that the espresso machine is clean and the portafilter is free of coffee oils and residue.

Fresh Coffee Beans: Select high-quality, freshly roasted coffee beans and grind them just before brewing.

Grinder: For the freshest tasting coffee, it’s best to grind your coffee just before brewing. Alternatively you could use pre-ground, however, with pre-ground coffee you will of course be limited to that specific grind setting and not be able to adjust it for a better extraction.

Tamper: Required to evenly compress the coffee grounds after dosing coffee.

Water: Check that the espresso machine is connected to or filled with fresh filtered water.

Clean Cloth: spills and splashes happen, to keep a tidy station, clean as you go.

Step 2: Preheat the Machine
Turn on the espresso machine and allow it to heat up. Most machines have indicators that show when they’re ready for use. Once hot, ensure the portafilter is inserted into the group head and run some hot water through to heat it up before brewing.

Step 3: Warming the Cups (Optional)
Fill the cup half way with hot water to pre-heat it. A cold cup will cool your coffee down fast.

Step 4: Prepare the Coffee

Dose the Portafilter: Depending on the portafilter and basket size, dose around 20 – 22 grams of coffee grounds for a double shot and 11 grams for a single shot.

The coffee to water ratio for espresso brewing is:

1:1 for a ristretto shot, 1ml water for every 1g of coffee. Meaning ‘restricted’ in Italian, a ristretto shot is a stronger, shorter form of espresso ideal for making a Flat White.

1:2 for a regular shot, 2ml water for every 1g of coffee.

Distribute and Level: Distribute the coffee grounds evenly in the basket, then use a levelling tool or your finger to create an even surface.

Tamp the Grounds: Place the portafilter on the counter and then place the tamper level on the coffee grounds and apply even pressure down to compact them and finish with a gentle twist before removing the tamper. The tamped coffee surface should be level and smooth. Wipe and remove any loose coffee grounds from the sides and rim of the basket before inserting into the group head.

Step 5: Brewing
Lock the Portafilter: Insert the portafilter into the group head and lock it securely in place.

Start the Extraction: Once the extraction has started, depending on the machine, the espresso should start flowing from the spouts within a few seconds.

Observe the Shot: A proper espresso shot should have a slow flow rate, almost resembling honey pouring form a honey bottle and have a thick, golden-brown ‘crema’ layer on top. The extraction time should generally be around 25-30 seconds.

Step 6: Evaluate and Adjust
Taste the espresso and assess its flavor, body, and balance. If the espresso extracts too fast the taste could be weak with a sour taste and if the extraction is too slow it will taste overly bitter and astringent. If needed, you can adjust the grind size, dose, or extraction time for your next attempt.

Step 7: Clean Up
Eject the Puck: After brewing, remove the portafilter and knock out the coffee puck into a waste bin.

Rinse the Portafilter: Rinse and wipe the portafilter and basket to remove any residual coffee grounds.

Step 8: Enjoy Your Espresso
Pour the espresso into your warmed cup and savor the rich, concentrated flavors. You can enjoy it as a shot or use it as a base for various espresso-based drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and more.

Remember, like all brew methods, making the perfect espresso may take some practice, but with time, you’ll be able to master the art of espresso making with your espresso machine.

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