12 Tips for Making a Better Espresso Coffee

Struggling to achieve great tasting espresso at home? Or do you find your brews vary between tasting great and sometimes bitter? Nail your espresso technique every time with these 12 tips.
  1. Keep your portafilter clean

Cleaning your portafilter is important. Coffee residues that build up over time will only give a rancid tasting espresso shot. This is a result of oils sticking to the metal water screen (and behind it) in the portafilter. To prevent this from happening make sure to rinse your portafilter every few shots, and also make sure to soak filter basket and portafilter in cleaning solution frequently for at least 15 minutes to remove any residual build-up.

  1. Get dose right

Dosing is all about the amount of coffee in grams that you are using in for your espresso. 18-21g is generally recommended for a double shot. Find your preference and remember that slight variations will influence the flavour of the espresso. 

  1. Distribution- Ensure equal

This is an important one- Ensure that your coffee is evenly distributed in your portafilter. This is because water will always choose the path of least resistance. Uneven distribution can mean there is both under- and over-extraction in the same cup which is going to give an unpleasant tasting espresso shot. If in doubt about this we recommend a ‘naked’ portafilter which will clearly indicate if extraction rates are unequal.  

  1. Tamp and even consistently

Tamping is important. Make sure both tamp and portafilter are level. If tamped unevenly this will create a path of less resistance.

  1. Rinse group head

This will help give a more stable temperature during extraction as well as remove any coffee residue from previous shots that might add unpleasant flavours to the espresso.

  1. Start brewing immediately

Leaving the coffee in the portafilter for too long may burn the surface of coffee, resulting in bitter notes in cup. The World Barista Championships are very fussy about this and will even deduct points for failing to do so.

  1. Watch your brew time

Ideally an espresso will take 25-30 seconds to brew, with slight variations from machine to machine. Longer or shorter than this could indicate sub-optimal extraction and result in unpleasant flavours in coffee.

  1. Use freshly ground coffee

The best tasting espresso will require coffee that has been freshly ground right before brewing. Additionally we recommend using freshly roasted coffee, ideally not more than 2 weeks after the roast date. Our advise is to use coffee that has a ‘roasted on’ date rather than ‘use by date’ as this gives a better indication that the coffee is fresh. Check out our Coffee Selection ideal for espresso. 

  1. Pick the right coffee 

Generally speaking, dark and medium-dark roasts will serve you best. You can experiment with other roast profiles. Extra dark roasts tend to be quite ashy in flavour, whilst lighter roasts will retain more intrinsic flavours such as fruitiness and acidity. The ‘classic’ espresso flavour however will be best achieved with a dark or medium-dark roast. 

  1. Get grind size- Factors that might change this

Grind size is important. Too course will give you a watery or acidic espresso, whilst too fine can give you overly bitter flavours. Make sure to check this every now and then as even factors such as air temperature and humidity interact with grind size which influences taste. On warmer and more humid days beans will absorb more moisture, which will lower the rate at which water infiltrates the coffee grounds. If you don’t use a grinder an espresso grind should generally serve you well, just be aware that pre-ground coffee will stale faster than whole beans.

  1. Use the right water

This is important on two levels. For looking after your machine and getting that right balance of flavour in your espresso. Our advise is to use filtered water, know when a filter needs replacing, and be aware of changes in water hardness over the year as there can be some seasonal variation. Given that over 90% of an espresso is water, getting this right is important.

  1. Preheat your kit

Especially important for the first brew. Preheating will lower heat loss during extraction. We recommend pulling a blank shot through the portafilter (no coffee in the basket). Failing to do so may lead to unequal rates of extraction which in turn will decrease flavour quality.


Comments 0

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

All Blogs

The Art of Slow Coffee

By Petra Jones on Apr 07, 2024

Slow coffee is more than just a method; it's an experience that emphasises manual brewing techniques, allowing you total control over the brewing variables. Slow coffee...

Read more
Crafting the Perfect Italian Espresso: A Journey Through Beans, Roasts, and Rituals

By Andrea Agostini on Apr 05, 2024

Ah, espresso. It has a deep, inviting smell and a creamy top that promises rich flavours. It wakes you up with a strong boost of energy. But espresso is more than ...

Read more
How Filter Paper Influences Your Coffee Extraction

By Petra Jones on Mar 20, 2024

When it comes to brewing the perfect cup of coffee, every detail matters. From the grind size to the water temperature, each element plays a crucial role in the final flavour of your coffee. One often-overlooked component is the filter paper used in your coffee maker. But how exactly does filter paper influence your coffee extraction?

Read more
Ocean Bottle: Leading the Charge in the Battle Against Plastic Pollution

By Petra Jones on Mar 06, 2024

In today's environmentally conscious society, Ocean Bottle stands as a shining example of innovation and hope. Launched in 2018, this visionary social impact company has set its sights on a monumental missio...

Read more
What is Filter Grind for Coffee?

By Graham Jones on Feb 29, 2024

Filter grind refers to the consistency of coffee grounds optimized for use in filter brewing methods. This encompasses a broad spectrum of devices from the classic drip coffee maker to pour-overs and the Aeropress. The grind size for these methods is typically medium, resembling coarse sand. This size ensures that hot water can properly extract the coffee's flavours and aromas without passing through too quickly, as it might with a finer grind, or too slowly, as with a coarser grind.

Read more
How to Fine-Tune Your Coffee Grind with Baratza ESP

By Petra Jones on Feb 20, 2024

As avid coffee lovers, we can all agree that the secret to a perfect cup of coffee is largely in the grind. With the right grind size, coffee flavours and aromas are accurately extracted, resulting in a delicious cup of coffee. For many of us, there is an ultimate grinder that perfectly accomplishes this task - the Baratza ESP coffee grinder. 

Read more
The Ultimate Guide to the Best Coffee Beans in the UK: 2024 Edition

By Andrea Agostini on Feb 14, 2024

Embark on a gourmet journey with our comprehensive 2024 guide to the UK's most exceptional coffee beans. This essential read takes you through the nuanced art of selecting beans that resonate with both the palate and the principles of sustainability. From the aromatic heights of Ethiopian Yirgacheffe to the robust depths of Brazilian Santos, we cover the beans that define the coffee landscape. We also spotlight the craftsmanship of leading local roasters like Redber Coffee, whose dedication to quality ensures your espresso is a luxurious ritual of taste and aroma.

Read more
The Best Valentine Gifts for Coffee Lover

By Petra Jones on Feb 06, 2024

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and if your loved one is a coffee enthusiast, you're in luck! We've curated a list of the best Valentine gifts for coffee lovers that are sure to make their heart s...

Read more
Exploring Baratza Grinders: Which One is Right for You?

By Graham Jones on Jan 28, 2024

Choosing the right coffee grinder can significantly impact the quality of your coffee. With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to decide which one is best for you. Baratza, a company dedic...

Read more
Tips for Making a Better Cafetiere Coffee at Home

By Petra Jones on Jan 14, 2024

Making a great cup of coffee with a cafetiere can be tricky especially if you are new to the world of coffee. But don't worry, with a few tips and tricks, you can make a delicious cup of coffee every time.

Read more
Top 5 Coffees to Try If you Love Cappuccinos & Lattes

By Petra Jones on Jan 02, 2024

When selecting the best coffee beans for cappuccinos and lattes, it's essential to choose beans that are medium-bodied and have a balanced flavour profile. Some of the our most popular coffee beans for cappu...

Read more
Coffee Of The Month January 2024 - Kenya Bora

By Petra Jones on Jan 01, 2024

Grown at high altitudes, between 1500-1700 meters above sea level, the coffee beans benefit from the perfect combination of rich volcanic soil, ideal climate, and skilled farmers. The coffee is made of varie...

Read more
Introducing Yes! Definitely Bottled Water with Breath-taking Illustrations from Independent Artists

By Petra Jones on Dec 05, 2023

Yes! Definitely, the bottled water brand that is making a difference in South Africa, is now making its big debut in the UK. And it's not just any ordinary bottled water - each bottle is a work of art, showc...

Read more
Best Tea Gifts for Tea Lovers

By Petra Jones on Nov 16, 2023

If you have a tea lover in your life and you're looking for the perfect gift, look no further. We've curated a list of the best tea gifts that are sure to delight any tea enthusiast.

Read more
35 Best Gifts for Coffee Lovers

By Petra Jones on Nov 05, 2023

If you know someone who can't start their day without a cup of coffee, you can surprise them with the perfect gift. Whether they prefer iced coffee, espresso, or a filter coffee, there are plenty of ways to show your appreciation for their caffeine addiction. From flavorful grounds and beans to coffee subscription and gift sets, and coffee accessories like mugs, grinders, and coffee storage canisters, we've rounded up the best gifts for coffee lovers to make their morning cup even more enjoyable.

Read more