How to Make Espresso at Home: The Guide for Beginners

How to Make Espresso at Home: The Guide for Beginners

Do you love lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and other great espresso drinks? Are you tired of paying for a good coffee every morning? Learning how to make espresso at home is not difficult at all. Here’s everything you need to know on how to make espresso.

Don’t be intimidated, you do not need to work at starbuck to craft great drinks. You also do not need to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on a fancy espresso machine or grinder to make a good latte. Knowledge is power with espresso, take your time and attempt to make one beverage every other day. With patients you will save time and money on a day when you want a good coffee and you don’t want to go out to get it.

Making Espresso at Home

So you are ready to start finally making some shots. The first think you need to make sure you do is clean your equipment. It is so easy to get neglectful with espresso machines, but I promise you – if you keep your equipment clean, you will save money and have better espresso.

  1. Turn on the machine and give it time to warm up: I try to give my machine a good five to ten minutes to warm up. You would be amazed at the difference in quality you receive by giving it a few extra minutes to get ready. During that time I prepare my milk, syrups, pick my beans, and make sure my grinder is clean.
  2. Grind your beans:  Using pregrounds is perfectfully fine, however we will stress, grinding your own beans will give you a vastly better pull. You want to grind your beans down very fine. You want to grind between 17 – 21 grams of beans for a double shot of espresso.
  3. Check your portafilter: This is an important step that should not be skipped. Check the portafilter to make sure it is clean and put the measured grounds in the basket. Once you have the portafilter filled with the grounds, shake it a little bit to even out the loose grounds.
  4. Tamp your grounds into a puck: The technical pressure to tamp is 30lbs. I would compare this action to the pressure your arms would feel when you put your arms on your knees, after working out.
  5. Put the portafilter into the espresso machine and start: Time to actually pull the shot.

Tools Needed To Pull Espresso Shots

Pulling a great espresso shot starts with the equipment you will be using to grind the beans and pull the shot. While picking the best coffee is half the battle, the other half is getting quality equipment that can help the flavors of the coffee shine. We are going to stay away from recommending espresso machines, as everyone has their own opinion and budget for a machine.

In my personal opinion, those that brew espresso at home fall to two very common mistakes that drastically affects how their shot pulls. The first is using filtered water. Do not use tap water. Most will tell you that it is fine, but I disagree. Use good filtered water, your favorite coffee shop isn’t getting their water to pull shots, from the sink. The second common mistake is that most people buy a cheap grinder. Spend the extra money on a nice burr grinder, you won’t regret it.

When you have a trusted grinder, spend time learning and testing different ways to grind your beans. For espresso beans, you want to have a very fine grind. The grinders you buy from your local grocery store can work for some time, but getting a reliable burr grinder will change your life.

The final piece of the puzzle is a good tamper. These can run you only a few dollars up to almost a hundred dollars. This is used to press the espresso grounds down into a puck. Make sure you measure the size of your portafilter so that you do not buy the wrong size.

Do You Need Espresso Beans to Make a Latte or Other Coffee Drinks?

Despite the marketing of espresso beans, it is a common misconception that you need espresso beans to make an espresso beverage. There is a difference between espresso beans and other types of  beans, however, there is not a difference in the way they are roasted. At the end of the day, any fresh bag of coffee beans can make you a great espresso shot.

How to Compare Different Espresso Roasts

You can spend countless hours learning about the different factors that go into creating a “robust” bean. We have found that all of those factors really boil down to a core 5. When you are evaluating your espresso pulls, try to pay attention to the following:

  1. Acidity: When most talk about flavor they are talking about the acidity that the shot produces. There is a difference in the acid and acidity. When you drink you shot, the acidity of the shot should make you want more because of the sourness. If you have a shot with too much acid – and trust me, you will know when it happens – you will really start to learn the difference.
  2. Aroma: When you first get a bag of espresso beans, open them up and take a deep inhale. The aroma of a bean is a good way to judge the overall freshness of the coffee as well as it’s quality. Learning what to look for when smelling beans will take some time, try to read the bag of beans and see what flavors are intended for the roast.
  3. Body: This is sometimes called the mouthfeel, an espressos body is perceived as a material impact on the sense of taste as the espresso coats your tongue when, swished around in within your mouth. Normally there are three types of bodies with espresso beans, light, medium, and full. This is in reference to the overall heaviness or thickness of the coffee within your mouth. The body affects the overall flavor and richness.
  4. Bitterness: The most primary flavor in coffee, the bitterness sinsation is described as a twinge near the back of the mouth.
  5. Sweetness: Most coffees’ have an element of sweetness which provides a mild or smooth flavor without disrupting the balance of the beans. Overly sweet beans typically are defective as the sweetness element can become harsh, quickly. The sweetness in a coffee is different from adding sugar, syrups, or sweet and low. The sweetness in coffee is often related to a fruity sweet, but are also related to a chocolate or caramel sweetness.

Geographic Location of Most Espresso Beans

When you are looking for coffee beans in your local grocery store, you might want to know a little bit about where they come from. If you have been paying attention to the news, you may have seen different bits about fair trade coffee. While that is a topic on its own, you may have heard of these places involved with the fair trade coffee movement.

  • Central/South America & Caribbean: South America produces a majority of the coffee consumed in America. These roasts typically have a light body, nice acidity, and good sweetness. This is similar to the coffee you get from Starbucks or Dunkin. This is where most coffee lovers start.
  • Middle/Eastern Africa: A very popular choice among those who love coffee, african coffee is like fine wine. You should give it a try once, but be careful, it’s texture is almost syrupy.
  • Indonesia: Known for having lower acidity than other choices, Indonesian beans are still great in taste and flavor. These robust beans are often earlthy with nice floral notes, and make a very complex taste. They are great for mixing to make drinks such as lattes, macchiatos, etc.