Making espresso at home is a risky endeavor. You could spend a lifetime trying to achieve the perfect shot. Espresso is one of the hardest brews to perfect and always a moving target with so many variables in play, but also one of the most rewarding when done right.
There are many factors involved in producing a good cup of espresso and it’s not all about the machine. Taking the many variables into account yields a delicate cup of espresso with balance, viscosity, sweetness and depth in uplifting harmony. But where do you start? We will point you in the right direction.
Pre-warm your portafilter this can either be done by leaving it in the group head (without any old coffee in of course) or by running hot water through it. Clean and dry the inside of the portafilter basket to ensure no residual coffee remains.
Place the portafilter on a scale and tare the weight.
Flush the group head with a short burst of water this will not only clean off any remaining coffee that is on the shower screen but it will also freshen the water in the group head.
For a double shot, grind between 18–21 grams of coffee into your basket. The proper grind is crucial to a balanced, delicious shot of espresso. It might be necessary to adjust its fineness a bit. In general, the grind should be quite fine.
Distribute the coffee by drawing a finger across it in a series of alternating swipes. It is most effective to alternate sides from top to bottom and then left to right, and so on.
Place your portafilter on a flat surface and position your tamper level on top of the grounds. Without driving your palm into the tamper’s base, apply pressure downward. You don’t need to tamp just enough to seal the coffee in evenly. 20 to 30 pounds of pressure should do the job. Give the tamper a gentle spin. This will smooth the grounds for an even extraction. Step 6 Position the portafilter in the group head and start your shot. We recommend pulling it into a pre-heated cup.
The shot should start with a slow drip, then develop into a gentle, even stream. After nearly 30 seconds, the extraction will end, causing the shot to thicken and start “blonding out,” or turning yellow. Stop the shot just as this process begins. Some people like to stir a shot after it’s been pulled; some like to sip immediately in order to experience its many layers of flavor. This is up to your personal taste.