Ten Tips on How to Make Espresso

by dan on February 13, 2011

Barista Tips for the Perfect Espresso

Do you love that espresso at the local coffee shop and would like to make it yourself at home. Do you want to learn how to make espresso better than anyone ever in the history of espresso! Read on!

Before we get started, check Out this Classic Irish Coffee Recipe!


Get a good espresso machine (espresso coffee maker). There are many great choices but don’t get a cheap one. See the link for you choices and all of the pros and cons of the different types of espresso machines. The machines provides pressurized extraction so you can get all the fine flavors and aromas from the compressed bed of roasted, ground coffee.


Get some really good coffee beans meant for espresso which means they have been given a Dark Roast or Espresso Roast.


Make sure the beans were shipped and stored properly in a cool, dry dark place though not in the freezer or refrigerator. Ideally they were just roasted.

Four - How To Make Espresso

The grinding of the coffee is very important and needs to be appropriate for you particular espresso machine. In general the grind will be very fine so it can produce a very robust shot of espresso with a thick consistency and intense tastes and aromas. A burr coffee grinder is best, and in particular a conical burr grinder. Follow the instructions in Grinding Coffee For Espresso to make sure you get it right. A good grind can make all the difference. By the way, never use coffee that was pre-ground as most of the fine nuances have already dissipated.


Take the portafilter off of the espresso machine and run it under very hot water. Some machines will automatically pre-warm the portafilter. It is crucial that the brewing temperature of the espresso is not lowered by a cold portafilter which would disrupt the proper extraction.

Six - How To Make Espresso

Place the pre-warmed demitasse so that the espresso flows directly into the demitasse from the spout of the espresso machine. Fill up the portafilter of the espresso machine with roasted and ground coffee and apply a tamp, or compaction, with firm pressure and just a very slight twisting motion.

This will provide the ideal compaction while avoiding any weak spots where the water may blow through and cause under-extraction. Now clamp the portafilter into the espresso machine and hit the brew button of the espresso machine.


Observe closely as the espresso begins to brew and pour from the spout of the espresso machine. The espresso should be a deep brown color, somewhat like maple syrup, and now comes the most crucial part of espresso brewing, deciding how long to brew the shot.

Try brewing for twenty-two seconds to begin and then you can fine tune from there. The goal is to avoid a weak shot due to insufficient extraction while also avoiding excess bitterness by excess extraction.

A proper extraction will bring out the coffee’s fine aromatic oils and pleasant flavors. The espresso shot should have a fine intensity and a concentration of flavors that can be consumed “solo,” all at once, and with ceremony!

Eight - How To Make Espresso

Troubleshoot all of the various components that go into making the perfect espresso shot including checking the brewing temperature, the fineness of your grind. Also make sure your burr coffee grinder and your brewing equipment is very clean with no leftover residues that may taint the perfection of your espresso brewing process.

Make sure you are using freshly-roasted, freshly-ground coffee and make double sure that it is stored properly. Double check that you are getting the particular roasting of the coffee beans that you desire. Grind the coffee just before you brew it.

Watch the stream of espresso as it emerges out of the spout. If the espresso is streaming out too slow then perhaps you ground the coffee to fine, or perhaps you compacted it too much.

Barista Job Description - What Is A Barista

Changing one or both of these items can help to fine tune the shot so it streams out properly. If you allow it to flow very slowly the result will be an espresso shot that is over-extracted, and it will likely be very dark and perhaps bitter.


Double check the crema of the coffee to make sure it forms properly atop the espresso in a light brown layer that helps retain the intensity of the espresso shot.

You should start to see the crema flow from the machine after about one-third of the shot has been poured. The finest tastes and aromatic qualities of the shot are in the fine cells of the crema.

During the last third of the espresso shot pouring you should be able to see the shot separating into layers. Make sure the body of the espresso isn’t too dark as it might taint the shot with a burnt, over-extracted flavor. This might occur if you tamped the coffee too firmly or used too fine of a grind size.

The heart of the espresso at the bottom of the demitasse shouldn’t be so light that it is watery and blends with the body. It should separate cleanly. Weak shots can be fixed by using a finer grind size or tamping the coffee more firmly.


By experimenting with your particular espresso machine and you will be able to fine-tune and control all of the variables that go into pulling a perfect espresso shot. When learning how to make espresso be patient.

The flavor should be concentrated and intense with just the right amount of sweetness. The caramel-colored crema on top should be infused with the finest of the specialty coffee’s aromatic properties. See more tips on proper espresso grind size and follow the Technical Specifications for a proper espresso.

In the end it is the barista who decides on how to adjust and control the various factors in the given situation to produce the finest espresso. A true barista is a coffee artisan creating an excellent shot of espresso.

Now Enjoy Your Fine Espresso!

It’s best to drink your espresso within the first thirty seconds, and all at once. This is the Italian tradition of consuming it “solo” and enjoying the espresso at the very peak of its intensity and freshness. This is also the best way to appreciate the subtle nuances of the espresso.

Also see World’s Best Coffee Quotes

More Tips on How To Make Espresso

Barista Resume

Barista Job Description

Barista 2011

Great Espresso Drinks

How To Make Coffee

A Coffee Guide for the Ages!

Also see All About Coffee for information about coffee plants and coffee cherry and the world’s finest gourmet coffee beans.

Coffee and Espresso Brewing Equipment

Also included are full details about Coffee Makers (Automatic Drip Coffee Makers, Single Serve Coffee Makers, Coffee K-Cups, Pod Coffee Makers, Coffee Pods, T-Discs, and French Press, (also see Best Coffee Makers), and Espresso Machines (including Pod Espresso Machines) as well as Instant Coffee and Decaffeinated Coffee.

Premium Gourmet Coffee - The Process Farm to Table

Learn about coffee harvesting, processing, grading, roasting, grinding, packaging, storing, brewing as well as the coffee beverage itself. Also covered is Organic Coffee, Fair Trade Coffee, Bird Friendly Coffee and Shade-Grown Coffee.

Appreciating the Finer Points of Coffee

Discerning coffee lovers will be interested in coffee flavors and qualities including the coffee’s body, aroma, acidity, bitterness, sweetness, and finish or aftertaste). You can also learn about coffee cupping (professional coffee tasting), read great coffee quotes and then take the coffee quiz.

Brewing the Finest Espresso

Tips on espresso brewing can be read about beginning with Pulling A Perfect Espresso Shot and Steaming and Frothing Milk and then reading the Barista Guide to Perfect Lattes and Cappuccinos which includes information about Espresso Drink Recipes.

Also see:

Five Best Coffees In The World - Best Coffee Beans

Barista Job Description - How to Make Espresso

Coffee Quotes - Funny Quotes

The Coffee Party Movement

How To Clean A Coffee Maker

Latte Macchiato - Barista Tips for the Perfect Macchiato

The Three Strangest Types of Coffee - Enjoy a Unique Cup of Coffee

Crema - Essence of Espresso Shot Expressed in Crema

Calories in Coffee Drinks - Know Your Coffee Calories

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