A man makes an espresso using a small container

Espresso Brewing Guide

Brewing the perfect espresso is an art form that takes patience, practice, and a lot of experimentation. With the right beans, tools, and technique, you can start your day enjoying the sweetness and depth of the perfect shot.

What You Need

  • Espresso machine with a portafilter
  • Tamper
  • Coffee
  • Burr grinder
  • Scale
  • Filtered water
  • Knock box
  • Mug or decanter
  • Timer

Steps

A pile of coffee beans both grinded and ungrinded

Step 1:

Start with the right beans. Espresso beans have very specific traits that will create the right taste and richness for this unique brew.

A container full of grinded coffee beans

Step 2:

Using an espresso grinder, grind the beans down to the size of a grain of salt, and fill the filter cup loosely.

A tamper presses the coffee down into the filter cup

Step 3:

Use the tamper to press the coffee down into the filter cup. This is where the grind is important – if it’s too fine and you tamp it too hard, the water won’t properly penetrate and extract the coffee.

An empty glass sits ready to be filled

Step 4:

Use a proper “demitasse” cup to serve your espresso - a conically shaped, thick porcelain, heated cup is best. The conical shape helps to ease the espresso into the cup forming a better “crema.”

An espresso machine dispenses liquid into two cups

Step 5:

Brew the espresso. The proper espresso is poured “short” – at about 1 ½ ounces. This is ideal for texture, taste, and mouth feel.

An overhead view of a fresh espresso

Step 6:

If brewed properly, the crema will be thick enough to support a teaspoon of sugar for 5 seconds – and the thick, heated cup will keep the temperature of the shot just right. Enjoy the perfect espresso!