Espresso For Beginners: Step By Step Guide

Today we are talking about espresso because there are some common mistakes that you want to avoid when pulling shots.

We’re going to be talking about what espresso is, what espresso is not, and the steps you need to take to pull your first espresso shots. So let’s get brewing.

My name is Keith Mallinson, and I’m with coffee beans 101. A place for you to go and learn more about brewing and enjoying better quality coffee right at home.

Today you’re talking about espresso, and to get started, you should probably define what espresso is.

It can be a little bit difficult, not just because everyone’s preferences are different. You all like different espresso types, but a lot of it is also based on this beverage’s culture and history.

I will just be using the definition that I learned when taking classes through the Specialty Coffee Association.

That definition is the 25 to 35-milliliter beverage prepared from 79 grams, 14 to 18 grams for a double of coffee through clean water Of 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit or 90.5 the 96 one degree Celsius.

It has been forced at 9 to 10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such, that the brew times are 20 or 30 seconds.

While brewing, the espresso flow will appear to have warm honey’s viscosity, and the resulting beverage will exhibit a thick dark golden crown. Espresso should be prepared specifically to be served immediately.

That was quite the mouthful, but it’s important to understand that this definition is constantly changing.

People are changing variables and finding good results and other methods, but I believe it’s a good reference point for starting when talking about espresso.

Espresso is a method of preparing and extracting coffee, and it’s also the term used to describe the actual beverage or the liquid you have as the end result.

Now I think it’s a little more important to define what espresso is not, and first, espresso is not x-presso.

It’s an S, not an X. but more importantly, in a very common misconception, espresso is not a type of coffee.

You can use any coffee out there as espresso. Still, you see coffees and blends specifically designed for espresso because espresso is such a demanding beverage that darker roasted coffees will typically be a little bit more forgiving and easier to extract in an espresso machine.

It is also a taste that you are accustomed to, and they also shine through a little bit better once you add milk and have a cappuccino or a latte.

So that isn’t to say that you can’t use a super-light roasted coffee for espresso; it definitely can.

It may just be a little bit more difficult to dial in, and you may not like to taste, and that’s fine.

Now really quick. I just want to say that this article is meant to explain to you the basics of espresso.

We could have an entire article talking about tamping and the effects of tamping, and you could have another article on your dose and how different dose amounts will affect your espresso. That’s not what this article is.

The goal of this article is for you to understand what espresso is and how to prepare it.

Preparing The Dose

So first step is to prepare your dose. Your dose is the amount of coffee you’re going to be using for your espresso, and your dose will vary based on the basket size that came with your machine.

The basket I use is rated for 18 grams, So I only brew 18-gram doses with your machine.

I highly recommend just starting with one dose when you’re first starting with an espresso and experimenting with variables like grind size and your end yield before even playing around with your dose.

Now that you have your coffee in your basket, you will see that it’s in mounds and it’s all clumpy, so you want to take those grounds and level them off before you tamp.

This is one of those subjects where there is a lot of conflicting information on the best methods to level out your dose.

It would be best if you start by taking your finger and gently moving it over the top of the basket, being careful not to spill too many grounds to make an even surface.

Then you should tamp. When you tamp, you’re just going to take your tamper and hold it like a doorknob.

Put your arm at a 90-degree angle and set it flush on top of your coffee grounds.

Traditionally it’s said that you want to apply 30 pounds of pressure onto the coffee.

I’d recommend just pressing down until you feel it pushing back at you, and that’s good.

It’s more important to be consistent with yourself as you keep pulling shots than trying to breach this thirty pounds of pressure.

I don’t recommend twisting it at all. You can give it a quick little polish if you want but don’t press it down and twist, or else you may ruin your puck that’s inside the basket.

So you have our coffee tamp and before you insert this into the group head, make sure that you have no coffee on the sides.

You want to make sure everything’s nice and clean, and you’re not getting too much coffee up in there.

Now you have a nice flatbed of coffee grounds, and you’re ready to get brewing.

First, take your cup and purge the group head. That’s going to preheat your cup and rinse out any little coffee grounds that may have still been on the screen, even though you should be wiping it off after every shot.

Now you want to make sure that you have everything in place before you pull your shot.

So it would help if you got your scale back out because you are going to weigh your espresso. So you know when to stop it.

It would help if you also had a timer to have a reference point of how long it went and how to adjust the future settings.

Take your clean cup and put it on the scale. Now your are all set. It’s important to have everything ready to go because as soon as you insert the puck into the group head, you want to start brewing as soon as possible. After all, there’s a lot of heat up in there.

You don’t want the coffee grounds just sitting in the heat underneath the screen for too long before you get brewing.

Insert the puck into the head, but the weighing scale and your clean cup under the basket, start the machine and set your clock timer going. (I use my cell phone to time the flow.)

As to how much espresso you should pull, I start with a 1 to 2 ratio. I started with 18 grams of coffee, so I was aiming for 36 grams out.

You should stop the shot just short of hitting 36 grams because it still had a few drips come out at the end when I press to stop.

I would recommend starting with a 1 to 2 ratio. See If that suits your preferences and adjust from there. So those are the basics of espresso.

Hopefully, by now, you understand what espresso is and what it is not and the basic steps to pull your first shots.

Now you will be making more advanced articles in the future, looking at steaming melt and pour in latte art, and experimenting with all these different variables on how to dial in your espresso.

Recent Posts