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How to Brew Espresso Perfectly at Home

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My husband and I are avid coffee drinkers. We used to drink a lot of coffee at coffee shops, and now we love making our own coffee at home.

Did you know? The cup used for espresso is called a "demitasse," meaning half cup.

Did you know? The cup used for espresso is called a "demitasse," meaning half cup.

A Passion for Coffee

My husband and I are avid coffee drinkers. We used to drink a lot of coffee at coffee shops, and now we love making our coffee at home. After moving to a new house three years ago, we decided to purchase an espresso coffee machine to accommodate our passion for coffee. One of our favorite coffee drinks is espresso.

What Is Espresso?

Espresso is a full-flavored, concentrated form of coffee that is served in shots. Espresso is often blended from several roasts and varietals to form a bold—not bitter—flavor. It is made by forcing pressurized hot water through very finely ground coffee beans using an espresso machine.

What Does Espresso Taste Like?

If you have made espresso at home or have had it at a coffee shop, you will notice a bolder flavor than typical black coffee. In addition, you will notice that espresso is topped with a creamy brown foam, called crema. In Italian, crema means cream. The crema is formed when air bubbles combine with the dissolvable oils of finely ground coffee. It's essential to have the cream foamed because it adds a rich flavor and lasting aftertaste of espresso.

When to Drink Espresso?

You can have an espresso any time of day. Have it with a little pastry! Traditionally an espresso would be the preferred choice of coffee to drink in the afternoon or evening as it does not contain milk. It's easy in your stomach.

We purchased a Breville BES840XL Infuser Espresso Machine online, and ever since then we have enjoyed making our favorite coffee (including espresso) at home. If you don't own this espresso machine, don't worry; most machines have a similar brewing style. If you follow the correct brewing procedure, I'm sure you will achieve the great taste or flavor that you're aiming for.

Brew Guide

  1. Use good water. Fill up your water reservoir. The best water is spring water, but distilled water works too.
  2. Turn on the power. Turn on the espresso machine and ensure the boiler is hot. Here's a trick: Have your espresso cup on top of the machine, so it gets warm.
  3. Dose the espresso. The dose is the anchor of every espresso recipe. It is the weight of dry ground coffee that you are using to make an espresso, and depending on your espresso style.
  4. Grind the espresso. Grind your espresso finely. The grind size is smaller than for drip coffee. For comparison, the grind size should be comparable to table salt.
  5. Fill portafilter. Dump your espresso grounds in the portafilter, aiming to distribute them evenly in the filter basket.
  6. Tamp it. Give it a good tamp. Aim for about 30 pounds of pressure.
  7. Start brewing. Lock the portafilter into the brew head of your machine and press the brew button.
  8. Pull the shot. Aim for a 25 seconds extraction time. Depending on how fine your coffee grounds are, this can vary up or down by 5 seconds.

Photo Tutorial

The espresso machine. In front is the portafilter.

The espresso machine. In front is the portafilter.

Fill up your water reservoir. The best water is spring water, but distilled water works too.

Fill up your water reservoir. The best water is spring water, but distilled water works too.

Turn on the espresso machine and ensure the boiler is hot.

Turn on the espresso machine and ensure the boiler is hot.

The espresso beans.

The espresso beans.

The coffee grinder that I have set up for 2 shots of espresso.

The coffee grinder that I have set up for 2 shots of espresso.

Grind your espresso finely.

Grind your espresso finely.

Dump your espresso grounds in the portafilter, aiming to distribute them evenly in the filter basket.

Dump your espresso grounds in the portafilter, aiming to distribute them evenly in the filter basket.

Give it a good tamp; aim for about 30 pounds of pressure.

Give it a good tamp; aim for about 30 pounds of pressure.

Lock the portafilter into the brew head of your machine.

Lock the portafilter into the brew head of your machine.

Press the brewing button.

Press the brewing button.

Aim for 25 seconds of extraction time.

Aim for 25 seconds of extraction time.

This is my espresso with the brown crema on top.

This is my espresso with the brown crema on top.

© 2021 Liza

Comments

Liza (author) from USA on January 09, 2021:

Yes, it is. We never get tired of making espresso and coffee at home nowadays. After all, we are spending a lot less time outside. Therefore, having a good espresso machine is worth it! Thanks for reading and your comment, Sp.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on January 08, 2021:

That's so handy that you can brew your own drink whenever you want to. It's great you've got the technique down on how to make a great cup of espresso.

Liza (author) from USA on January 07, 2021:

My younger sister doesn't drink coffee at all. She prefers tea to coffee :) which is okay. Everyone has their preference. My husband and I are coffee connoisseurs. However, we still drink tea occasionally. Thanks for reading!

Liza (author) from USA on January 07, 2021:

Hi Peggy, my husband used to have a simple espresso machine too. However, we decided to get this one during the Black Friday sale three years ago, and it's worth it! I'm pleased to hear that you and your family enjoy drinking coffee (including espresso). For me, the best time to enjoy espresso is after a heavy meal :) Thanks for commenting.

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 07, 2021:

Although I'm not a coffee drinker, my daughter is. You have explained this well and obviously love your cuppa.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 06, 2021:

Hi Liza,

We do not have as fancy an espresso machine as you do, but we do own a more simple one. We do enjoy drinking espresso as well as regular brewed coffee.

Liza (author) from USA on January 06, 2021:

My coffee obsession started when I was a student in Italy, Linda. I remember stopping at the bar (in Italy, a coffee shop called a bar) to get coffee before walking to the university. I used to drink instant coffee too! Thanks for reading!

Liza (author) from USA on January 06, 2021:

Thank you for reading and commenting, Umesh!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 05, 2021:

This is an interesting article. For me, coffee generally means the instant version. It's nice to read about other types.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on January 05, 2021:

Well explained. Nice.