How To Make A Good Cup Of Espresso

How To Make A Good Cup Of Espresso

If you are new to the world of coffee, you must be asking what Espresso is. No shame in asking because we are more than happy to share and talk all about it. 

Espresso is a concentrated coffee beverage that is usually served in a single shot or a double shot. A single shot normally has a volume of about 1.5 ounces and double shot being twice this amount. A common way to brew Espresso is through a Semi-Auto Espresso Machine that will force hot water under extremely high pressure through a compressed bed of ground coffee. 

Coffee enthusiasts are very fond of a golden layer that is formed and sits on top of the Espresso. The fine golden layer that is formed is called the “Crema.” The crema is formed during the process of extraction. One of our favourite coffee experts, James Hoffmann explained why crema is created because when the water is under pressure, it dissolves more carbon dioxide, which is a gas that is trapped in the coffee beans during the roasting process. 

When brewing Espresso, consistency is the key. Coffee specialists and baristas need to keep ensuring that the same amount of doses, ratio, extraction time, and the whole process in order to make a delicious cup of Espresso. 

Espresso is also an ideal base for mixing coffee beverages such as Latte, Cappuccino, Flat White, and many more. With just a frothed milk with a single shot of Espresso, you get a Cappuccino. And with a good amount of steamed milk and a double shot of Espresso, you get a Latte. How exciting it is to play with different Espresso recipes and ingredients. 

Now you know the gist of Espresso, below is the equipment you need to have when brewing Espresso: 

To make a good cup of coffee using a semi-auto espresso machine, it is important to know the grind size of the coffee beans. 

Note: The size indication varies for different coffee roasters. For example, A definition of a fine-size ground coffee is different between Roaster A and Roaster B. For those who made their purchase from Mister Coffee, we recommend using extra fine size. 

Generally, a good starting point of dry coffee grounds will vary depending on your espresso basket. A single shot of espresso is approximately 25-35ml, which should be achievable with the extraction time for 25 seconds. We recommend you to follow these guidelines until you are ready to experiment with other espresso recipes. 

Keep in mind that these are adjustable guidelines. Every coffee is different and distinctive. Some will taste better with a shorter extraction time while others taste better with slightly longer extraction.

Now you have read the foundation, here are the steps in making a good cup of Espresso. 

Step 1: Clean your Portafilter 

To start off, make sure the portafilter is clean. Wipe it with a small dry cloth to remove any leftover grounds. The cloth will help remove oily residue and moisture from the last brew. 


Step 2: Dose accurately

For a delicious cup of Espresso, you want to grind your coffee beans to extra fine size ground coffee. An example of James Hoffmann says “If an apple is diced into smaller pieces, it will expose a lot more of the inside of the apple.” That same goes for Espresso ground coffee. The finer you ground your coffee, the more exposure you get when in contact with water. It is harder for water to flow because there are no gaps in between. Hence, it will give you a strong, concentrated, thick, and delicious cup of coffee. 

To achieve an accurate dose, place the portafilter on a scale and tare it to zero. Start grinding the beans and keep measuring until you have achieved your desired dose. By doing this, your extraction will be accurate. This will also help to make your Espresso delicious and consistent. You can also use an on-demand grinder that allows you to get your pre-set dose with just a push of a button.

Note: Always check your portafilter’s basket size before dosing as each type of basket has a fixed volume and line. Avoid overfilling up to the line as each volumetric base basket is different. For example, if you are using a 18 gram portafilter’s basket, you will want to use approximately 18 grams of coffee.

On a side note, we recommend a coffee-to-water ratio of 1:2. For example, 16g of ground coffee and water produce around 32g in 25 – 27 seconds. 

#DoseAccurately #FollowBasketSize

Step 3: Distribute the grounds evenly in the portafilter 

While you dose the coffee grounds to the portafilter, the grounds are most likely formed in a pyramid or a mountain shape. This causes an uneven distribution to the grounds. Part of the basket will have more coffee and some parts less if you don’t distribute the grounds evenly before tamping. 

To distribute the grounds evenly, hold the portafilter in your non-dominant hand. Your dominant hand should tap the basket side of the portafilter five or six times until the bed of coffee has leveled out nice and flat. 

Note: Bad distribution of the grounds might lead to channeling. 


Step 4: Tamp evenly and steadily 

To tamp the coffee grounds flat in the basket, keep your wrist straight to make sure the coffee bed is even. Place the tamper on top of the ground coffee and spin. This is to assure the surface of the ground coffee is smooth, flat, and ready to be extracted. 

Note: Tamping removes air pockets in the coffee puck and also ensures the coffee is completely leveled. This is to avoid channelling and over, under, or uneven extraction. In order to do that, you need to tamp until you feel the puck is compressed. After tamping, polish the surface of the ground coffee. 

#Strength #TampAngles #EvenSurface

Step 5: Insert the portafilter and start brewing 

Before locking in the portafilter, clean the sides of the coffee puck. Make sure there is no ground coffee around it. The reason why we do it is because to avoid any coffee grounds going into your coffee during the extraction time. 

Note: It’s important to rinse the group head before inserting the portafilter. This will wash out any old excess coffee from the previous brew. 

Once the portafilter is locked in, you need to start brewing the espresso immediately. Otherwise, the heat might cause the surface of the ground coffee to burn. Do not forget to put the scale with the cup on top and tare it to zero before brewing so that you can measure the yield.

#Cleanliness #Hygiene

Step 6: When you brew, start the watch (Both yield and brew time) 

Start your timer from the moment you start seeing the first drop of liquid. If you are using a semi-automatic machine, keep an eye out for the brew time and stop the button after 25 to 30 seconds. Check the yield from the cup and see whether you have achieved your desired result. This is to know the brew time whether or not your espresso is under or over-extraction. Again, we recommend brewing your espresso for 25 to 30 seconds with 1:2 ratio because the longer the ground coffee is in contact with water, the more extraction it is going to pull out. 

If an under or over-extraction happens, you might want to discard that espresso and make a new one. Only this time, you want to re-check your grind size and the amount of dose. 

On the other hand, if you are using a manual espresso machine, you should be looking at the yield. If the flow begins to decrease at the end, it means there is a lot of resistance. Thus, the pressure is off and your espresso will not be consistent. 

#Time #Ratio

Step 7: Ready to serve! 

Don’t forget to discard the puck, clean the handle and basket from any coffee particles and moisture, rinse the group head and insert the portafilter back to the group head. It’s important to keep the coffee station clean and tidy so it is much easier and faster to make the next espresso. 

And voila! These are the steps in making a good cup of espresso. With these basic instructions, it is crucial to also know and understand the foundations of good brewing that requires patience, and time. If you begin with this process and instructions, you’re off to making a good cup of Espresso.

To know more about what Espresso beans we offer. Here are our Signature Espresso Blends. 

Share with us your Espresso journey using Mister Coffee beans! We’d love to know and don’t forget to tag us. 

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