Coffee grounds for espresso in portafilter

Guide to Brewing Espresso

Doppio Espresso in mug at home

Making Espresso at Home: A Guide to Brewing Perfection

Welcome, coffee lovers! There's nothing quite like the aroma of freshly-pulled shots of espresso to kickstart your day. Today, we're delving into the process of making espresso at home, bringing you the secrets to brewing perfection. So grab your espresso cup and let's embark on a journey to unlock the true potential of your home espresso experience!

(Are you in the market for a home espresso machine? We recommend this one for its size, consistency, and ease of use.)

1. Start with Quality Beans

To achieve exceptional espresso, it all begins with selecting the finest beans, though it’s important to note you don’t need beans labeled espresso. Any and all roasts can be used, as espresso is a brew method and not a type of coffee, bean, or roast. Here at Window Seat Coffee, we like our Red Eye Blend for espresso as we love the dark chocolate and nutty profile is has. Overall, just keep in mind investing in high-quality coffee beans means you’ll enjoy that morning cup that much more!

2. Dial in the Dose

Now it's time to determine the ideal dose for your espresso. We suggest starting with a ratio of 18 grams of ground coffee for a double shot (around 2oz or 60ml) of brewed espresso. However, feel free to adjust this to suit your personal taste preferences. Remember, consistency is key, so use a digital scale to measure your coffee accurately.

3. Grind for Perfection

To extract the delicate flavors and aromatic oils locked within the coffee beans, a consistent and appropriate grind size is essential. This is true for all types of coffee brewing, but especially for espresso. The best option is a quality burr grinder (great budget option here), as it allows for precise control over the grind size. For espresso brewing, a fine grind is the key. On most grinders, this means starting almost as fine as it will go and adjusting for taste from there!

Finely ground coffee for espresso in portafilter

4. Tamp with Care

Tamping is a skill that ensures even water distribution and optimal extraction. Place your weighed coffee grounds into a portafilter, level them, and then apply gentle, even pressure with a tamper. Aim for a compacted puck, ensuring a flat and level surface. This step plays a crucial role in the extraction process, so take your time and practice your technique.

A helpful hint is to grab an analog scale and use that to measure your pressure. While there is debate on how hard to tamp, we generally aim for ~30 pounds of pressure. If you really want to up your home espresso game, purchase an automatic tamper. This device ensures consistent pressure and, with regular cleaning, the perfectly flat and level puck surface.

5. Master the Machine

Now it's time to bring out the star of the show—the espresso machine. Preheat your machine, allowing it to reach the optimum brewing temperature, typically around 195-205°F (90-96°C). Ensure that your machine is well-maintained, clean, and calibrated, as any inconsistencies can affect the final cup. Remember, each machine is unique, so consult the manufacturer's instructions for specific guidance.

Extraction of two shots of espresso

6. Extraction: The Magic Begins

Place your portafilter into the espresso machine and begin the extraction process. Ideally, a double shot of espresso should take 25-30 seconds to extract. If it's too fast or your shots taste sour, try making your grind finer, weighing out a larger dose, or tamping with more pressure. If the extraction process takes much longer than 30 seconds or your shots taste exceptionally bitter, try changing the grind to a coarser setting, weighing out a smaller dose, or tamping with less pressure. Aim for a steady stream of espresso, accompanied by a rich, honey-like texture, and a beautiful layer of crema—the golden-brown foam that crowns your shot.


7. Savor the Result

Congratulations! You've successfully brewed espresso at home. Now, take a moment to appreciate the aroma and flavors within your cup. Sit back, take a sip, and relish the rewarding experience of expert-level espresso, right in the comfort of your own home. Ready to steam some milk and make a latte? That post is coming soon!

Brewing espresso at home is a (fun) skill that demands patience, precision, and passion, but if you’ve made it this far, you're well on your way to mastering the craft. Remember, the quality of your coffee beans, the grind size, the dose, and the extraction process all play crucial roles in your final cup. And if you're seeking an extraordinary espresso experience, don't forget to try our Red Eye Blend—it's sure to elevate your home brewing to new heights. So go ahead, embrace the joy of brewing espresso at home, and savor every sip of your expertly crafted creation. Cheers to extraordinary espresso!

Some items linked here use affiliate links. When you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase Window Seat may receive a commission. Thank you!

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