How to Brew — Home Espresso

Arguably the most popular coffee brewing method, espresso is a classic. Whether you prefer a latte, flat white, or long black, it all starts with quality coffee and a good shot of espresso.

An Introduction to home espresso

Brewing the perfect espresso is like a delicious science experiment, mixing just the right amount of finely ground coffee and hot water under the right conditions to create a bold and flavorful shot. Whether you're a coffee aficionado with a premium machine or just starting with your first budget espresso machine, mastering the art of home espresso is totally doable and oh-so-rewarding. So, grab your favorite beans, fire up that machine, and get ready to dive into the precision brewing world of home espresso.

With so many variables impacting the end flavour of your espresso, and a wide range of equipment available in the market, it's difficult to drill down to a simple one size fits all approach. With that in mind, consider the below as a basic intro to espresso. For more advanced information including shot diagnostics and espresso-based drinks, check out our Advanced espresso brew guide and our Milk steaming guide.

What you’ll need

If you’re just getting started with home espresso, there’s no need to worry about all the extra pieces of kit like puck screens, bottomless portafilters, Wdt tools, and distributors before nailing the basics. While these tools can help with small improvements, it's important to get your fundamental recipe correct first. To get started all you need is:

  • An espresso machine

  • A burr grinder with specific espresso grind settings

  • Your favourite coffee

  • A portafilter

  • Digital scales (ideally with timing function)

  • Cold, filtered water.

  • Your favourite mug

Picking the best coffee for Espresso

When it comes to picking the perfect coffee for your espresso, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First off, you'll want to look for beans that are specifically labeled as "espresso roast" or "espresso blend". Our range of espresso blends are specifically crafted to deliver the rich, bold flavors that espresso lovers crave. 

Next, consider the origin of the beans. Single-origin coffees can offer unique flavor profiles, while blends often provide a more consistent and well-balanced taste. 

Finally, pay attention to the freshness of the beans. Opt for recently roasted coffee to ensure the best extraction and maximum flavor and aroma. We recommend brewing coffee between 10 days, and four weeks from roast date.

Whether you prefer a smooth and chocolaty espresso or something more fruity and complex, choosing the best coffee is all about finding the perfect balance of roast, profile, and freshness.

Recommended Recipe

For brewing espresso, the golden rule is to aim for a 1:2 ratio of coffee achieved within the desired extraction time. This may need to be adjusted based on your machine or basket size but for a double shot of espresso we recommend the below:

  • 18g fine ground coffee (fresh is best)

  • 40g water in, aiming for 36-40 out.

  • 26-30s extraction time.

Step-by-step guide for Home Espresso

Step 1 - Switch your machine on and let it come to temperature. Pulling a shot of water through the machine before you get started is a good way to heat your group head for a more even temperature when you begin.

Step 2 - measure out 18g of ground coffee and pack your portafilter, distribute the coffee evenly through the basket, and tamp firmly with a moderate amount of evenly applied pressure.

Step 3 - Place the portafilter into the group head, being mindful not to knock the portafilter, as this can cause channeling/uneven extraction.

Step 4 - Place your cup under the portafilter, on top of the scales, and tare to zero. Prepare your timer and get ready to pull your shot.

Step 5 - Press the brew button and start your timer. let it run until your scales are at 40g. This should take between 26 and 30 seconds.

Additional Tips

  • When brewing espresso, dose and time are the constants and we use grind size as the variable. If your shot is pulling too quickly and tasting sour, grind finer. If it is too slow and bitter, grind courser. 

  • Espresso requires a super fine grind. If you are grinding coffee at home, make sure to purchase a grinder with specific espresso grind settings to help achieve this.

  • If you don’t have the ability to control your grind at home, we recommend using a pressurized basket in your portafilter. This can help control the flow during your extraction and reduce the need for the perfect grind size.

  • With espresso brewing, fresh beans are best. However, for best results, we recommend letting fresh roasted coffee age for around a week before using.

Home Espresso FAQ’s

Can I use regular coffee for espresso?

Any coffee can be used for an espresso machine, as long as it has the right grind. Experimenting with a range of single origins and blends can help you discover unique flavour profiles. However, using the incorrect grind like filter or plunger ground coffee will always result in a watery cup and a poor extraction.

Can you make espresso without an espresso machine?

The simple answer is no. Espresso is a unique brew method and requires a mix of finely ground coffee and pressurized extraction that no other method can offer. The closest you can get to mimicking this is the stovetop method. However, this is still far off from true espresso.

Is espresso stronger than other coffee?

Generally speaking, espresso does result in a higher concentration of coffee than other brew methods with a single 28ml shot of espresso containing around 63mg of caffeine compared to around 16mg in softer brew methods. However, when it comes to soft brew methods like filter or plunger, who's stopping at 28ml of coffee?

Is espresso better for your stomach than other coffee?

Espresso is generally less acidic than other coffee brewing methods due to the shorter brewing time and higher pressure used for the extraction. Espresso blends are typically darker roasted coffee which can also help to reduce acidity and can be gentler on the stomach.