September 26, 2017 4 min read

How to Make Espresso at Home

What is Espresso?

Espresso is a richly flavored, highly concentrated form of coffee that is brewed by forcing small amounts of pressurized, nearly boiling water through finely-ground coffee beans. Due to its method of preparation, espresso is generally thicker than coffee and it is served in shots with each shot measuring about an ounce. Espressos are usually poured into small, often white espresso cups known as demitasse cups. Getting the right variables and equipment for brewing espresso is a crucial step to the successful preparation of quality espresso shots and espresso drinks.


Variables are very important and they generally apply while making coffee of any kind. However, there are some variables that are only unique to when you make espresso.

Water for Espresso

The quality of your water is a huge determinant of how good your espresso shot or espresso drink will taste. You can purchase water test kits from your local hardware store so you can test the quality of your water for unwanted minerals, scale, and sediments and you can contact your local water source so you learn about the quality of water you receive.

Dose for espresso

The dose is more dependent on the taste you would prefer for your espresso. However, the standard serving size, or dose, for a double-shot ranges between 18 and 21 grams of coffee, so the more coffee you add, the more the intensity and concentration your espresso would yield. Preferences vary for different individuals, so long as you feel great about your creativity.

Yield for Espresso

The water-to-coffee ratio is an important factor for brewing coffee. However, when preparing the perfect espresso pull, we measure the coffee input and beverage output. The dose and coffee size will go a long way to determine how you measure the coffee and beverage input for a perfect yield. It may be best to shoot about two ounces of espresso out just enough to fill a shot glass. If you would prefer weighing the dose for the espresso shot, starting out with 30 grams will give you the perfect yield.

Espresso Coffee Grind

Coffee beans must be cut into smaller pieces before you can go on with brewing your espresso shot. Making the best espresso demands a finer grind than the regular coffee brewing methods and the finer the coarseness of the coffee grind, the more the available extraction surface area. When coffee is ground to small fine pieces like talcum powder, the target compounds can easily be extracted – though not everyone may love how quickly the extraction takes place.

There should be a balance between the texture of the coffee particles and the extraction time. Even when your espresso is produced from a quality bean, the coffee must have a fine grind as a coarse grind may make the coffee bland and near tasteless. When the coffee grind is too fine, the coffee could become too bitter due to the extraction of high levels of acids.

Tamping for Espresso

For extraction to be even, tamp is another important factor. If your coffee grind is compacted with a tamper, the flow of water could be restricted, forcing the interaction of water and coffee. Hence, a firm, yet level tamp is crucial to for the extraction to be even – producing quality, tasteful coffee.

Temperature for Espresso

Temperature is a huge determinant of the rates of extraction and solubility. The ideal temperature for how to make the best espresso ranges between 195-205°F and this temperature can be controlled in some espresso machines. Temperature also affects the solubility of caffeine content to some extent and it strongly affects the solubility of acids.

Time for Espresso

Timing is very important when preparing espresso. To get the perfect extraction, allow one 40ml shot of espresso to pass through the coffee grind within 20-30 seconds.

Espresso Equipment at Home

How to Make Espresso at Home—Equipment

Espresso Machine

Making your best espresso definitely starts with the espresso machine! Choosing the perfect espresso machine may look easy, but you need to be smart about making your selection. The best espresso machines should have stable temperatures, solid components, and a sensible interface.

Coffee Grinder

The coffee grinder is used to grind your coffee beans into small grounds so it is absolutely necessary. For quality, tasty and consistently satisfying espresso, you would need to use a coffee grinder that would provide great results. The burr coffee grinder is preferred to a blade grinder as it grinds the coffee beans into fine particles and there are many possible steps of adjustments while this process is ongoing.


Your espresso machine would most likely have a filter. To begin, use a two-sprouted portafilter then insert a double basket.


When your espresso machine arrives, it would most likely come along with a plastic tamper. While this tamper may perform the basic functions of a tamper, you may not get your desired coffee quality and blend. For a good shot of espresso, there must be even distribution and tamp – this you would not get with a plastic tamper. It is best to purchase a tamper with stainless steel, a hand fitting handle, and one that fits your portafilter basket seamlessly.


A gram scale better equips you to monitor your results to ensure they are consistently providing the quality you desire. You would also be able to detect any problems with your brewing as you can always monitor the progress from time to time. Scales with low resolutions of about 0.1 to 1-gram reading increments may be ideal so you can easily keep track of your measurements without sweating it.


Having a shot glass to catch your perfect espresso will definitely come in handy. A shot glass with volumetric readings may be ideal so you can have a good idea about how much espresso you are pulling out of the machine. This will be especially helpful if you do not have a scale for measurements.

It is very possible for you to make quality, consistently tasty espresso shots and espresso drinks at home so long as you follow the steps above – judiciously. Ensure you are putting on the right clothes before you begin and make sure you start out with all the necessary variables, coffee equipment and always ensure your espresso machine is in the best possible condition. Yes, you can be your own barista.