One of the keys to making great espresso is knowing exactly what's happening with every shot. That way, you can make small adjustments to take your coffee from good to great. It also means you can lock in the recipe for that perfect cup when you nail it! Whether you enjoy your espresso straight or drink a cappuccino, taking the time to learn to dial in your shots will be incredibly rewarding.
What you’ll need
- Espresso Machine
- Digital Scale
The industry standard is a 1 to 2 coffee to espresso ratio. Meaning your espresso should be double the weight of the coffee used to brew.
At Little Things Cafe we use:
- 20g Baskets
- Dose (coffee used per shot): 20-21g
- Yield (weight of brewed shot): 40-42g of espresso
- Time: 25-30sec
As a general rule, try and base your dose within 1 gram of what your basket is made for. E.g. for a 20g basket, dose 19-21g.
- Before you get started, make sure your machine is fully warmed up, you've got fresh coffee in the grinder hopper.
- Remove your portafilter and wipe dry with a tea towel. If you leave it a little wet, or even worse with some grinds sitting in there, you can risk an uneven extraction (water will flow to the clean dry holes in the basket first).
- Weigh your dose. By keeping track of how much coffee goes in each time, you'll be able to make the fine-tuning needed to produce consistently great coffee.
- Tamp the coffee. Your priority is to be even. You want the coffee to be evenly spread around the basket so that once you tamp, the puck is the same thickness and density all over. An uneven tamp will lead to an uneven extraction. You only need to press hard enough to get all the air out of the coffee grounds. Anywhere from 1 to 10kg of pressure if enough to get the job done.
- Run the water through for a few seconds. This will clean off any old coffee that could be stuck on the shower screen. It will also help stabilise the temperature for your brew.
- Lock your portafilter into place, then pop your cup on a digital scale below the spouts.
- Start your shot and your timer, then watch your shot. You want to see a little dripping before a stream of espresso forms. It should go from looking dark and syrupy to a caramel colour, then ending shortly after it becomes blond and watery.
- Stop your shot and timer. When your espresso is close to hitting the shot weight you're aiming for, try and stop it 3g before your target weight. It should drip out to your perfect number.
- Boom. You've done it! Do you like your espresso straight? You're ready to go! Feeling like a Cappuccino? Dust a bit of chocolate on there, steam some silky smooth milk, and pour away!
Ready for another?
- If that last cup was awesome, make sure to check your timer and note how long the shot pulled for. Use that as your reference point for future adjustments.
- If that last shot was a little out of the 25-30 sec window; change your grind. A bit finer for a slower pour, or courser for a faster pour.
- Make your adjustment if needed and try again!