Background

Here's the unfortunate truth about preparing home espresso: To us, skimping on an espresso machine and expecting delicious shots is similar to skydiving with a threadbare parachute – you can certainly risk it, but we can’t guarantee exquisite (or even safe) results. Espresso is a finicky beast and deserves the proper equipment. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t nail a perfect shot right off the bat; it takes time and practice to dial in well.

Pulling a perfect shot of espresso is an art form. In fact, we believe that there is no such thing as the perfect shot – only an exponentially exciting (and humbling) goose chase toward perfection. There are a lot of opinions about what constitutes a beautiful shot, but for us it’s all about balance, sweetness and the proper representation of a coffee’s character.


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What you'll need

  • Coffee
  • Grinder
  • Scale
  • Espresso machine
  • Double basket, bottomless portafilter
  • Tamper
  • Timer
  • Demitasse
  • Espresso step 1
    Remove your portafilter from the espresso machine’s grouphead. Place it on a scale and tare the weight.
    Espresso step 2
    Purge your grouphead thoroughly with hot water.
    Espresso step 3
    For a double shot, grind between 18-21 grams of coffee into your basket. The proper grind is crucial to a balanced, delicious shot of espresso. It might be necessary to adjust its fineness a bit. In general, the grind ought to be quite fine.
    Espresso step 4
    Distribute the coffee by drawing a finger across it in a series of alternating swipes. It is most effective to alternate sides in a series of 90 degree increments (top to bottom, then left to right, etc.).
    Espresso step 5
    Place your portafilter on a clean, flat surface and position your tamper level on top of the grounds. Without driving your palm into the tamper’s base (which can cause gnarly wrist problems down the line), apply pressure downward. You don’t need to tamp incredibly hard – just enough to seal the coffee in evenly. Twenty to 30 pounds' worth of pressure ought to do it.
    Espresso step 6
    Give the tamper a gentle spin. This will smooth, or "polish," the grounds for an even extraction.
    Espresso step 7
    Position the portafilter in the grouphead and start your shot. We recommend pulling it into a pre-heated ceramic demitasse and serving with a sparkling water back.
    Espresso step 8
    The shot should start with a slow drip, then develop into a gentle, even stream. Near the 30 second mark, the extraction will end, causing the shot to thicken and start “blonding,” or turning yellow. Stop the shot just as this process begins.
    Espresso step 9
    Some people like to stir a shot after it’s been pulled; some like to sip immediately in order to experience its many layers of flavor. This is up to you. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. And again, and again...