Espresso Brew Guide

Early espresso machines were developed to produce individual service coffee almost instantaneously, using large copper boilers and steam pressure. The core difference between espresso and filter coffee is the use of pressure to accelerate the brewing process, giving you a lightning fast brew in around thirty seconds, compared to the ponderous three minutes of a drip filter. The speed and pressure element of espresso makes it uniquely volatile, and tricky to master, but also incredibly satisfying when you do get it right.

Brew Guides / Espresso

What you'll need to get started...

Espresso Machine

Coffee Tamp

Fresh Coffee Beans

Coffee Grinder

Weighing Scales


Knock Box


Starting Espresso Brew Ratio

18g Coffee, 32g Water (30 - 35 seconds)


Allow your machine to come up to temperature. If your machine allows you to set a precise temperature, start at 92°C.


Remove the portafilter from the espresso machine, and flush some water through the group head. This rinses any old coffee off of the dispersion screen.


Knock out any old coffee from the basket, and run a dry microfibre cloth round the inside. Any old coffee in the portafilter is going to impart some bad flavours to your shot, so start from clean.


Place your portafilter on a scale, and zero out the weight.


Add 18g of freshly ground coffee to your basket. For espresso the grind should be very fine, with a little granularity. Slight adjustments to the grind setting can make a big impact on the resultant espresso, so it’s important to invest in a decent burr grinder. You might find that 18g is too much for your particular machine, in which case refer to the table in the troubleshooting section below, and swap the number sighted accordingly.


Holding your portafilter, rest the shoulder on the edge of your counter, so that the basket is level.


Place your tamp on top of the coffee bed, and just using the weight of the tamp, level it out.


Push down firmly, until the tamp stops moving, then lift it off the coffee. You should be left with a flat and level surface on your compressed coffee puck. Getting this bit right will encourage the water to flow through the puck evenly, as any thin bits or defects will allow the pressurized water to channel through, and ruin the espresso.


Brush off any loose coffee on the basket rim, and flanges. This will help create a good seal, and make cleaning the machine easier.


Lock the portafilter onto the group head.


Set your cup on the scale, and zero out the weight.


Start a timer and your espresso machine simultaneously. Let the coffee flow until the weight in the cup reaches 30g, and then stop the timer and machine. It will usually drip a little, bringing the total weight up to 32-34g.


If all has gone well, the timer should read somewhere between 30-35 seconds. Enjoy as is, or lengthened with steamed milk.

If it hasn’t gone to plan, take a look at the below troubleshooting guide to help you dial it in.

Common Problems & Troubleshooting

Too Fast
The shot ran through in under 20 seconds, it probably tastes super sour. Grind the coffee finer to restrict the flow of water. You only need to go one or two notches at a time.

Too Slow
The shot ran for 40+ seconds, or struggled to produce any coffee at all; this results in bitterness. Take the grind setting a couple of notches courser to free up the flow through the basket.

Thin & Bitter
Try pulling the shot 2-3g shorter. Same amount of coffee, but less water will result in more body and take away some of the bitterness at the end of the shot.

Dry Coffee Weight Espresso Weight Extraction Time
14g 25g 22 - 27 seconds
15g 27g 24 - 29 seconds
16g 29g 26 - 31 seconds
17g 30.5g 28 - 33 seconds
18g 32g 30 - 35 seconds
19g 34g 32 - 37 seconds

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