How to make espresso


Espresso is the building block for almost every other coffee drink. If you know how to conjure up a delicious espresso, then adding whipped milk in a specific ratio will create a number of popular drinks such as lattes, cappuccinos and more. Espresso is a coffee extract with a highly concentrated flavour and aroma that we love it for. It's small but packed with all the enticing ingredients of the coffee bean. These make their way into the espresso through pressure and hot water, into which they are extracted from finely ground roasted coffee beans.


That's why it's important to know its exact temperature, pressure, grammage and grind coarseness. To be familiar with these characteristics of espresso and to know how to work with them. This is how you create your espresso recipe. You won't find the ultimate recipe for an absolutely perfect espresso every time. While the basic recipe is similar in every preparation, it may be slightly different for every coffee, coffee machine, grinder, barista and even time of day.

The general definition of espresso speaks of a coffee with a final volume of 25 - 35 ml (2 times as much when making a double batch) prepared with 7 - 9 g of ground coffee (again, for a double espresso we use 14 - 18 g), through which water at a temperature between 90 - 96 °C has been run. How did the world come to such a drink, why is it so and why do these values in recipes vary slightly? We will explain in a moment.


At the beginning of the 20th century, a miracle happened for all coffee lovers. Thanks to the innovations brought about by the Industrial Revolution, the very first version of espresso was created. The original concept of espresso was built on making it as fast as possible. Did you know that espresso in Italian means express, hurried, on demand? That's because espresso is prepared after it's ordered, without any prior preparation. The Italians say that the customer must wait for the espresso, whereas the espresso cannot wait for the customer.

The birth of espresso was the work of two men. They both lived in Italy at the turn of the 19th century. Thefirst, Angelo Moriondo, started the coffee craze in 1884 in Turin when he patented a steam-controlled instant coffee machine. It was a machine that controlled the supply of steam and water separately through the coffee mixture. This was the first time in history that the device prepared espresso in single portions, rather than large quantities of the drink at a time, as is the case withfilter coffee, for example .

The second man who significantly influenced the shape of today's espresso wasLuigi Bezzera. In an attempt to shorten coffee breaks, he used the pressure of steam to make coffee. It wasn't long before Bezzera patented several of Moriondo's technological innovations 17 years after he invented the machine.

However, industrial production of Italian espresso machines did not begin until four years later, when Luigi Bezzera sold his patents. These machines were truly timeless in their design. This is evidenced by the fact that today's coffee machines haven't changed much from the original ones. In all that time, coffee machines have only undergone visual modification (shrinking) and automation (uploading software). But the principle has remained the same.


A lot has changed since the early days of espresso machines. The third wave of coffeehas arrived and roasters have become interested in choice coffee. Theroasting range has expand edto include lighter roast coffees, which means treating coffee gently to bring out its diverse and wide range of natural flavours. Lighter roast coffees also require slightly different brewing conditions than dark roast beans.

The barista's main task is to prepare a unique espresso recipe for the actual coffee. That is, to set up the grinder, the coffee machine,correctly . Toidentify well the taste and origin of each coffee served in the café. Modern espresso is not just a fast coffee with a strong taste. It is a balanced and charming combination of the best flavours and aromas coffee can provide. All in one small cup that instantly makes any coffee lover's day.


When looking for the right recipe for your espresso, you work with the factors that influence its extraction. You are trying to find the right point, the "sweet point" of extraction, when the coffee is simply at its best. It's sweet with a balance of bitterness and acidity. With good structure and body. In order to make such an extraction successful, you keep an eye on the following parameters during the preparation:

  • pressure
  • weight
  • grinding coarseness
  • volume
  • temperature


The consistent pressure exerted by the pump of the machine is also important and should be 9 bar throughout the preparation. Less or more pressure during espresso preparation can cause poor extraction.


The amount of ground coffee is one of the most important parameters for making the perfect cup of espresso. The amount of coffee is determined by the degree of roasting. For darker roasted coffees, choose a smaller quantity. This amount is around 8 grams per serving of espresso. For lighter roast coffee, around 9 to 10 grams.

Always try different weights for a new coffee before offering it to your guests. For accurate measurement and control of the amount of coffee, use a barista scale that clearly displays the weight of the coffee batch to tenths of a gram. Limits in coffee quantity are set by the volume of the cup in the lever. This can be sized for 18 g of coffee, for example. This should therefore be the basis from which you start and you can adjust the quantity to 18.5 g or 17 g of ground coffee, for example, as required.


The coarseness of the grind plays perhaps the biggest role when making espresso. If the coffee is ground too finely, the espresso will taste bitter and bitter. Conversely, if the coffee is ground too coarsely, it will cause the espresso to under-extract. This espresso will have little or no crema to look at. The taste is then unpleasantly sour and empty.

Awell-adjusted grinder, then, is the basis of proper espresso preparation, and this skill is essential for the work of a barista, whether professional or home.


In any espresso preparation , the ratio of coffee to water matters. This ratio is called thebrew ratio. For example, if you put 20 grams of ground coffee into a portafilter and the resulting drink is 40 grams, you will have a brew ratio of 20:40, or 1:2 . Many baristas consider the correct brew ratio for espresso to be 1:2 or 1:2.5. You can work from these and then create the best brew ratio for your espresso based on yourself, your tastes and most importantly the coffee in question.


We should always use filtered waterto make espresso . This is free of impurities such as chlorine and other unwanted smells and tastes. The filter removes minerals from the water and minimises the build-up and scaling in the coffee machine. Damage to a coffee maker caused by using unfiltered hard water tends to be quite expensive to repair. Filtered water has a great effect on the final taste of the coffee. Not to mention that a cup of coffee is 98% water.


Water for espresso is hot but never boiling. Usually water around 93°C is used. Coffee makers are equipped with a thermostat that monitors the temperature of the water so that it does not fluctuate. The thermostat is located inside the coffee maker. The technician who takes care of your coffee maker should help you disassemble and adjust the temperature. Coffee makers with a display and electronic temperature setting are easier to adjust. Just a few clicks on the coffee maker's button and you can adjust the water temperature as needed.


Most often you will come acrosssingle lever, double lever and triple lever coffee machineson the market . In this case, we are talking about the number of levers, or heads of the coffee machine, where the lever can be placed. If we talk about a double lever, a single portafilter, a double espresso lever... in these cases we are talking about differences in the lever itself (portafilter). So whether such a lever is designed to prepare a single espresso or whether you prepare a double shot of coffee at the same time.

For the best espresso, we recommend that you always prepare it from a double lever, even if you only need one cup, for example. Why? There are a few drawbacks to making coffee from a portafilter with a smaller basket for single espresso. Usually the coffee flows thinner, more watery, has less crema, and the body is not as strong and full-bodied. The single-serve basket and its shape are to blame for this. The distribution of the coffee in the basket is uneven, and therefore the extraction can't go well and evenly. We recommend, for best results, to always use the double espresso lever.

If you want to prepare espresso from the single shot lever, we recommend you get abetter basket from La Marzocco, which is more cut out inside. However, you also need asmaller 41mmtamper to go with it to tamp the coffee.

The double cups come in 15g, 18g, 20g and 22g sizes. For example, the Lamarzoco brand makes cups in 14g, 17g and 21g. They should always hold the number of grams of coffee (+/- 1 gram) that the basket is designed to hold. This is because of the space that is created between the head of the coffee machine and the tamped bud.


  • 18 grams of coffee
  • 36 ml volume
  • approx. 25 seconds

Determining a basic espresso recipe is very difficult as it depends on many factors. In addition, the recipe also changes with each type of coffee selected. Each time you prepare a new coffee, taste the first espresso and then fine-tune other details such as grind coarseness and gram ratio to achieve the most delicious espresso.


  1. Always keep the cups in the lever carefully cleaned. It is best to use a cloth designed just for this cleaning.
  2. Whenever you remove the lever from the machine, run clean water through the machine to clean the head from the previous coffee.
  3. Place the lever on the scale and reset it. Grind the coffee in the grinder into the lever.
  4. Reweigh the ground coffee to match your desired dose. The maximum deviation is 0.1 grams. If you have more or less coffee, add or subtract with a spoon.
  5. Use your hand to fold the coffee in the lever so that it is evenly distributed. This is because the distribution of the coffee also affects the final taste.
  6. Keep a rubber pad on the table to rest the lever on. The pad will prevent it from slipping. Rest the lever on the pad and tamp the coffee with a tamper. Push lightly on the tamper to align the coffee nicely.
  7. Always wipe the lever with the palm of your hand before placing it in the machine to get rid of any coffee that sticks to the edge.
  8. Put the lever in the machine, turn it on and with it the stopwatch that measures the correct time.
  9. Keep an eye on the amount in the cup using the scale.
  10. Serve the finished espresso quickly.


  • COFFEE CREMA. Whenespresso is made correctly, it has a beautiful creamy foam on the surface, called crema. The crema should be a nutty-chocolate colour. It may have tiger maps on it. If the espresso has too light and thin crema, several things could be to blame. The beans used may have been too old, and the coffee may have run out of coffee. Another common mistake could be in the grinder settings. You may have set it too coarse and the water ran through the coffee too quickly. Or the coffee dose was insufficient. If the crema is too dark, it indicates that the coffee was ground too finely and the extraction was too long.
  • ESPRESSO AROMA. We don't knowanyone who doesn't smell of coffee. That's why it's also one of the factors how we know if an espresso is done right. The aroma of espresso should be strong and intense and above all pleasant. Then it depends on the coffee you are drinking whether the aroma is more nutty, chocolatey or fruity.
  • WANT ESPRESSA. Recognising the flavours in individual cups of coffee takes a lot of practice, just like with wine. The main thing, however, is whether you like the coffee or not. We can then distinguish different flavour profiles in coffee flavours.


Are you following all the above recommendations and your espresso still doesn't taste good? Read the most common problems associated with espresso preparation and our possible solutions.

Coffee extraction takes too long/no coffee is coming out of the portafilter.

  • Coarser grind.
  • Make sure your batch is not too big for the basket in the portafilter.

Coffee extraction is too fast.

  • Finer grind.
  • Make sure your batch is not too small for the portafilter basket.

The resulting espresso tastes bitter.

  • Probably caused by over-extraction. You can:
  • Reduce the brew ratio (if you've extracted 40g of beverage, try 36g for example).
  • Set a coarser coffee grind to reduce extraction time.

The resulting espresso tastes sour.

  • Most likely caused by insufficient extraction. You can:
  • Increase the brew ratio (for example, if you have extracted 36 g, try 40 g).
  • Grind the beans more finely.

The resulting espresso is watery.

  • Grind finer.
  • Reduce the brew ratio.
  • Check that the coffee is correctly aligned in the cup.
  • After extraction, check for a crack in the coffee bud.

The espresso flow is uneven.

  • Water will always follow the path of least resistance through the portafilter. If the puck is not horizontal or is seated incorrectly, water will flow unevenly through the puck.
  • Ensure an even coffee surface by using a tamper

Recommended products3