You might enjoy drip coffee or a single brew pod every morning, but when you really want to experience the true taste of coffee, you need an espresso machine. If you’ve never learned how to make espresso in an espresso machine and you don’t know where to start, I’ve got a quick list that will have you whipping up espresso like a barista in no time at all.
What is espresso?
Espresso isn’t just really strong coffee or coffee with a kick. It’s not a specific coffee bean or a certain type of grind or coffee roast either. Espresso is actually a coffee drink created by a certain method. In most cases, espresso is created by an espresso machine. You can also make a type of espresso using a French Press or a Pour Over Espresso Machine.
Espresso is strong so it’s served in small portions of one to two ounces at a time. That’s why you’ll hear espresso called a “shot.” You can drink espresso on its own or you can use espresso to create other coffee drinks. Some coffee favourites include Americano, Cappuccino, and lattes.
How to make espresso
When you have an espresso machine, making shots of espresso is easy. The ingredients list is simple too. There are only two important ingredients if want to make the best espresso:
- Ground coffee beans
- Distilled water
Grind your coffee beans
Although you can purchase ground coffee beans, for the freshest and most flavourful cup of espresso you should grind your own beans in a coffee grinder. The beans should be ground as fine as possible. If you have a coffee grinder with different settings, make sure you use settings for the highest possible grind.
Filter your water
Tap water isn’t the best option when you’re brewing espresso. It tends to be full of particles and other matter that can alter the taste of your espresso shot. If you’d like the best cup of espresso, be sure to use purchased filtered water or water you purify via a pitcher with carbon filter. Ice cold water is best for espresso.
When you’ve got your water and coffee beans, you’re ready to learn a useful few terms that will help you when making espresso.
What is tamping?
To make espresso you’ll need to add coffee grinds to your espresso machine’s portafilter. Portafilter simply means “portable filter,” and when you add the grinds you’ll need to use the espresso machine’s tamper to compress the coffee grinds.
What is a dose?
When making espresso, a dose refers to how many grams of coffee grinds you’ll be using to make your shot of espresso. A double shot is the usual serving size, and that takes around 20 grams of coffee bean grinds.
What is the right water temperature?
Your espresso machine will heat up your water to the best temperature for creating an espresso shot. The temperature usually ranges around the 200-degree mark, although some of the automatic espresso machines let you control the temperature and make it even hotter.
What is yield when making espresso?
A perfect shot of espresso should be around 2 ounces. That can include the crema, also known as the thick skim that sits on top of your espresso shot. For a reference point, that size should be enough to fill up an espresso shot glass.
8 steps to making the perfect shot of espresso
You’ve got your water, you’ve ground your coffee beans, and you’re ready to make espresso.
- Fill up your espresso machine’s water reservoir with cold, filtered water.
- Turn on your espresso machine and go through the steps required to get it ready to brew. Some machines take longer to heat up the water than others, so use your machine’s manual to determine how long to allow the water to heat up before brewing.
- Espresso experts say you should lock an empty portafilter and turn on the machine for a minute, running through fresh, hot water. This will get every part of your machine ready to brew espresso.
- Using a clean, dry portafilter, add approximately 20 grams of ground coffee.
- Tamp your coffee grinds evenly with the tamper and lock your portafilter in place on your espresso machine.
- Turn on your machine and begin brewing.
- If your machine is a manual machine, end your brew when your shot reaches two ounces. If your machine is an automatic or super automatic, it will already know when to stop brewing for the best shot of espresso.
- Mix the crèma into your shot and enjoy your espresso.
How to make foam milk with an espresso machine
Making espresso shots is the main reason to use an espresso machine, but you can use it to steam milk too. Many espresso machines include a steam wand that will either dispense hot water or create steam to make steamed milk for lattes and cappuccinos.
To make foam milk with an espresso machine you’ll need to let it heat up for a few minutes. Once your water has heated, you can switch to the steam wand function. Insert the steam wand in a stainless steel cup half filled with milk.
Let the wand move between the surface of the milk and the center of the cup. Some people have a precise method for steaming milk, but I’ll move the wand between the middle of the cup and the top of the cup for a few minutes. The foam ends up being fairly low volume, and the milk is very hot.
In my experience, I’ve found any type of milk will foam, but some will foam better than others. For light foam, you can use non-fat or skimmed milk. Whole milk is great for foam used in latte art, and it’s more flavourful than non-fat or skimmed milk. Almond milk and coconut milk will also steam, but the foam won’t be as thick.
Coffee drinks you can make with an espresso machine
Now that you’ve made an espresso shot, the sky is the limit to what you can do with it. Want to make your own coconut latte? Just use a single espresso shot, foam some milk, and add one or two pumps of coconut syrup. An espresso machine has hot water ready for your Americano, and creating the perfect Cappuccino is simple when you’ve mastered the espresso shot.
Enjoy making espresso! If you need your own espresso machine to create espresso at home, check out all of the great espresso machines on Best Buy.