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Sales of espresso machines have risen by more than 50% in the US in the last two years. https://drinkycoffee.com/coffee-statistics/

A bit of a learning curve is involved in making espresso compared to making filter coffee, especially if you own a manual espresso machine.

Here we are going to go through the essential steps that you need to go to to make a superb espresso at home.

1. Weigh Your Ground and Liquid Coffee and Aim for a 1:2 Ratio Between the Two

Espresso should be brewed around a 1:2 ratio between the ground coffee you use and the liquid in your cup.

This means you want to weigh your initial dose of ground coffee and your final drink to make good-quality espresso.

Try to get your hands on a small scale that can fit underneath your cup when you brew your coffee. This will allow you to tell your machine to stop brewing as soon as you hit this desired ratio.

Suppose you have a machine that dispenses a preset amount of water in each espresso automatically. In that case, you can still weigh out your espresso shots and adjust the settings on your machine to achieve your desired weight.

Then, so long as you use the same amount of ground coffee in each espresso, you should have the correct coffee-to-water ratio.

2. Experiment with Different Grinds of Coffee

Once you have your brewing ratio sorted, the best way to adjust the flavor in your espresso is to change the coffee grind size you use.

The finer you grind your coffee, the more its surface area comes into direct contact with water, and the more compounds within the coffee will extract into the water.

Although we want much extraction to happen (as this is what makes coffee, coffee rather than hot water), too much will pull out some undesirable compounds in coffee that make your drink bitter.

Using coarser ground coffee in your espresso will create sharper notes, and using finer ground will make more earthy and bitter notes.

Adjust the settings on your grinder, or experiment with different fineness levels of pre-ground coffee (they often say on their packaging how finely the coffee is ground) until you get the flavor profile you want.

3. Warm-up up Your Espresso Machine with a Dummy Shot Before You Make Your Coffee

Espresso should ideally be brewed at around 195 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since an espresso machine’s internal brewing mechanism is made of steel, there can be a significant loss of heat between the water being heated up and it actually making contact with the bed of ground coffee.

This heat loss can reduce the brewing temperature, producing poorer extraction and espresso that tastes too sharp.

You can mitigate this by pulling a “dummy shot, without any ground coffee in the machine, to warm up its internal brewing unit and portafilter.

Pulling a “dummy shot” after your espresso can also help clean out the brewing unit of any stray coffee grounds.

4. Use Dark or Medium Dark Roasts

Espresso has been traditionally made with dark or medium dark roast coffee.

While it is possible to make a good espresso from a lighter roast, the current “best practices” as far as espresso making is concerned (such as the 2:1 brewing ratio) assumes that you are brewing with dark roasts.

Therefore, if you use dark roast coffee when making espresso, there is much more advice that is relevant to your needs.

If you brew with lighter roasts, you will need to experiment much more to get good results.

5. Use the Amount of Ground Coffee that Your Portafilter Basket Was Designed For

Unless you have one of those fancy superautomatic espresso machines, you will likely be dosing your ground coffee in a portafilter.

Every portafilter has a removable “basket” that holds the ground coffee.

An often overlooked fact is that each basket is designed to hold a certain amount of coffee.

Putting significantly more or less than the recommended amount of coffee in your portafilter basket will be tough to get a good extraction when brewing.

The recommended amount of coffee is usually printed on the outside of your portafilter basket.

If it is not printed there, then consult the instruction manual of your espresso machine or portafilter (if you bought it separately).

The amount of coffee you use in your espresso is a fixed variable in your brewing. The amount of liquid you produce in your brew should be a product of this, and then you adjust your grind size according to taste.

We hope you enjoyed reading these tips and that it helps you make better espresso at home.

About the Author.
Oli Baise lives in London, UK, and has been around coffee most of his life as his parents own a coffee shop. Oli writes reviews and articles on coffee products and everything about coffee. You can contact him at oli@drinkycoffee.com

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