Guide to Dialling in an Espresso

If you want to enjoy a perfect espresso shot, you need to understand the concepts of dialling in your espresso. This blog post is a  guide to dialling in an espresso.

What Is Dialling In an Espresso?

Dialling in an espresso means adjusting each of the variables, such as grind size, dose, and water temperature, to achieve the desired espresso extraction. Dialling in an espresso is a crucial in achieving a balanced and flavourful espresso shot. 

How to Dial In an Espresso?

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to dial in an espresso shot.

The goal is to achieve the following (based on Redber Coffee Roastery Café Francais Blend Dark Roast coffee beans):

16-18gm coffee grind > 25-30 seconds extraction time > 50-60gm of coffee



Single Shot Espresso

Double Shot Espresso

Grind Dose:









Extraction Time:

15-18 seconds

25-30 seconds


You will need around 500gm of fresh coffee beans, a scale, a stopwatch and a espresso shot glass.

The process is affected by coffee freshness, the type of coffee beans and roast, humidity, and grinder and espresso machine variables. As such you should routinely dial in your grinder at least with every new batch of coffee beans and every season change. High volume coffee grinders will need to be adjusted in even more frequently. With practice and experimentation, you'll be able to achieve a finely tuned espresso grind that produces delicious shots of espresso.

  1. Clean the coffee grinder: Start with a clean coffee grinder by removing any leftover coffee grounds and residue from the burrs and grind chamber.
  2. Set an Initial grind size: Set the grinder to a medium-fine grind size as a starting point. This will vary depending on each grinder and the condition of its burrs, but it should be in the range recommended for espresso.
  3. Prepare the portafilter: Insert an empty and dry portafilter into the grinder's holder or rest it underneath the grinder's chute. Make sure the portafilter is level and secure.
  4. Grind a test shot: Start grinding coffee into the portafilter. Aim for a dose within your desired range (eg 16-18 grams). Pay attention to the grind consistency and adjust the grind size if necessary.
  5. Tamp evenly and consistently: Compress the grind so that it is level in the portafilter. If you tamp lightly, always tamp lightly; if you tamp with medium weight, always tamp with medium weight; if you tamp with more weight, always tamp with more weight.
  6. Extract the shot: Place the portafilter into the espresso machine's group head and initiate the shot. Pay attention to the following factors:
    • Extraction time: Time the extraction from the moment the pump is engaged until the desired yield is achieved (coffee should appear at around 5 seconds and the total pour should be from 25-30 seconds). If the shot is too fast (under-extracted), meaning it runs too quickly, consider making the grind size finer. If the shot is too slow (over-extracted), meaning it runs too slowly, consider making the grind size more coarse.
    • Size of the serving: A single espresso is usually 25-30ml. A double espresso is usually 50-60ml.
  7. Evaluate the shot: Decide if the shot fits the flavour profile you are seeking:
    • Smell the shot: The aroma should be a pleasant and complex balance of rich, roasted and sweet nuances. There should be no unpleasant or off-putting smells.
    • Taste the shot: The taste of coffee is subjective, but the flavour profile of a good shot should always be a balance of sweetness, acidity, and bitterness.
  8. Make gradual adjustments: Continue making small adjustments to the grind size and keep pulling test shots until you achieve the desired extraction time and flavour balance. Note that minor adjustments are recommended to avoid drastic changes that may affect the overall shot quality.
  9. Repeat and refine: It may take several iterations of adjusting the grind size and pulling test shots to dial in your grinder perfectly. Be patient and make incremental changes until you achieve your desired espresso quality.

Remember to take notes throughout the process, documenting the grind settings and extraction times, as this will help you reproduce your desired results consistently.

You might be interested in The Story behind the Espresso

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