Make Espresso at Home
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Making a Great Espresso

How do YOU make a Perfect Espresso at Home?

The delicious sounds produced by the word, Espresso! The commonly known beverage amongst coffee drinkers, which is becoming increasingly more serious in the way it's produced. In other words, a serious espresso lover knows the proper equipment, measurements, time table, and grounds selection when the time comes to executing the perfect cup of espresso!

In my love of coffee, I've too also become very fond of espresso. I've had only a few amazing consumptions of the wonderful brew, and a couple want-to-be consumptions that left my head shaking. From my standpoint, an amazing consumption of espresso begins with a barista who believes they are in constant competition with the world in making the most flavorful cup.

This is my understanding of how to fascinate the taste buds with the ultimate taste of espresso at home. Quality beans, storage, recent roast date, exceptional grind texture, well maintained equipment, tamping, and a serious barista.

It starts with the proper, fresh, whole coffee beans, which means quality. Great quality beans, equals great flavor and crema of the espresso. After considering the quality, the storage is the next process. The ideal storage of fresh beans is in an airtight container, away from heat and light maintaining a constant temperature. Storing them in the freezer isn't necessary, but using them within a three week time span is. With this, the phenomenal roasted taste is of utmost importance. The roast date of the beans, which is typically located on the back of the bag, is vital when the taste is being recognized. Recognizing the grind of the bean has much to do with the outcome of the flavor. With coarse grounds, your espresso is more apt to have characteristics to that of being watered down and flat. Fine grounds may lead to a burned or ashy flavoring of your espresso. The ultimate flavor would be the product of grounds that are similar to that of flour with small portions of a salty texture added.

When it comes to the care of your porter filter and basket, keeping these clean of any old residue and dry is the best upkeep for flavor and aroma of your espresso. It is said that tamping can improve the extraction, flavor, and aroma of the espresso as well. If the process is done properly, when turning the basket upside down the grounds should stay in place.

Ratios are different according to taste buds. Some espresso drinkers prefer two parts dry coffee to three parts wet espresso, while others suggest 30mls to 30 seconds. Meaning if your espresso takes longer than 30 seconds to brew, the flavor and aroma may not be satisfactory. Indications of fabulous coffee are having the brew delivered to your cup of consumption enabling you to enjoy all the components of your coffee, including the crema. As your espresso is brewing, you may notice a select few drips followed by slightly viscous streams that may appear as though the streams are springing back up due to the oils in the beans.

Now for my curiosity, what are your thoughts?

  • How important is the crema to you? Considering when purchasing espresso from most coffee shops in the U.S., most, if not all of the crema which contains much of the flavorful components is left behind in the initial container as it's poured into your serving cup.
  • Do you prefer grinding the beans at home, or is pre-ground coffee okay?
  • Is tamping coffee grounds an absolute must before brewing your espresso?
  • What's your opinion on how and where to store your coffee beans?
  • Do you believe that the temperature plays an important role in the storage of coffee beans?


Share Your Thoughts
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Luciano De Luca - September 10, 2015
To make a GREAT Espresso at Home you need a high quality coffee machine (around the $1,000 budget range) and fresh 100% Arabica coffee beans. Grind the beans finely to increase the surface area and improve flavour extraction. Next fill the portafilter with freshly ground coffee powder and firmly tamp to ensure even distribution of water through the coffee. Insert the portafilter into the grouphead and lock it securely. Water temperature is very important, the espresso will taste bitter if the water is too hot and lack flavour if it's not hot enough. That's why you need to invest in a high quality temperature controlled espresso machine. Then extract the wonderful flavour quickly by allowing the water to run no longer than 30 seconds. Once again this is where a high quality machine can made the difference an average cup of coffee and the perfect espresso. Finally enjoy it while it's HOT!

Massimo Zanetti September 3, 2015
Making a good Espresso at Home is relatively easy if you follow these FIVE Golden Rules:

1. Water Quality: Use filtered water. Tap water may contain limestone that will eventually reduce the performance of your machine.

2. Coffee Quality & Quantity: Invest in premium quality Italian 100% Arabica coffee beans and grind them at home, just before making the espresso to preserve their freshness. Then measure out 7 grams (or 14 grams for a double shot) and place in the porta-filter basket.

3. Firm Tamp: Strike the porta-filter basket gently on a firm surface to evenly distribute the coffee grounds. Then tamp firmly with a correctly fitting tamper.

4. Extraction Time: If the ground coffee is tamped correctly the espresso should flow from the nozzle in an even stream and take between 20 to 25 seconds to fill a small espresso cup. If the espresso comes out too quickly the full flavor of the coffee is not being extracted, tamp the coffee more firmly. If it takes longer check the pressure of your coffee machine.

5. Coffee Machine Maintenance: Always clean the filter of previous powdery remains and run a small quantity of hot water from the machine through the empty filter basket before each new cup of espresso. Allow the coffee machine a couple of minutes to regain its ideal operating temperature.

Mario Rossi - August 26, 2015
You've gotta start with premium quality freshly roasted beans from Panama (if you can get them). The best tasting espresso is made from freshly ground beans that contain their natural oil content. Then you need a good quality coffee machine. If you like strong coffee don't waste your money on a capsule / pod machine. The pods just don't contain enough coffee to make a decent double shot strength espresso. Want to know more? Check-out The Home Barista's Guide to Espresso by Jim Schulman, it's a website dedicated to the home espresso and coffee enthusiast!

What Makes a Great Espresso?

Coffee is a morning staple in millions of kitchens across the country, serving as the holy grail, routine beverage of households since its trade in the 15th century; despite the way it has single-handedly taken over the kitchen domain of many a home, the roots of a 'good' coffee starts far from any marble countertop. The process begins before the coffee reaches the doorway of a home, before the package hits the shelf of a market or a store. It starts in the earthy soil, the strangely precise amount of water that feeds it, and the particular amount of sunshine it receives. It continues in the harvesting, in the heartfelt roast of the beans and the meticulous grinding into powder, and only then, does it find its way into the hearts and homes of the coffee consumer.

Coffee has taken such a deep root into the lifestyle of many, in various forms; as a morning jolt, an energizer for the work day, a pleasant swish of flavor for the idle tongue. Regardless of the reason, it's high consumption and demand has led to the production of numerous in-home coffee makers and machines. A good quality espresso maker can become an indispensable addition to one's kitchenware, whether its to spruce up a delicious morning routine, or to add a luxurious addition to an evening snack, and end up being an investment worth well beyond its initial price.

In 2004, coffee was the top agricultural export for twelve countries; the next year, it was the world's seventh-largest legal agricultural export. In the annals of history, coffee has been seen to be a delicacy for the wealthy, a luxury well sought after by the countries that had yet to indulge itself in the import. Doubtlessly, it has taken over the hearts of much of the world's population, enjoying its place in the ritzy coffee shops and confectionery stores of the nation, from worldwide big name brands to small, local stores. To some, the beverage is a morning ritual followed devoutly, and to others, its a social rite of passage to spend the afternoon with friends and a nice latte or espresso. With a good espresso machine at home, the coffee drinker can enjoy a tastefully made cup of coffee for a fraction of the high cafe prices, in the privacy and comfort of one's own quarters, as well as impress any guests who have visited.

If you have any comments or suggestions, whether it's knowledge you have to share about the production of premium coffee, or a recommendation of your favorite brand of ground coffee or coffee maker, please share them here.


One thought on "What Makes a Great Espresso?"

Bruno Tassone - August 16, 2015
Great post. Here's my tip for making a decent espresso at home: After selecting a good quality freshly ground coffee, you MUST always firmly tamp the coffee grounds before brewing. Packing the finely ground coffee tightly into the portafilter slows down the brew process enabling greater extraction of flavor.