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How to Use an Espresso Machine and Brew Coffee Like a Pro

Dave Carter

February 17, 2021

Knowing how to use an espresso machine is a skill as well as an art, and though it may seem easy, the reality is that it is not. There is a process that you need to follow exactly if you want to create that perfect cup of espresso.

One of the keys to producing a nice espresso is to have consistency, and some might ask if you need to weigh the coffee. Maybe if you are already an expert and have been using the machine for quite some time, you may not need a coffee scale anymore. However, for first-time users, it would be a good idea to use a coffee scale when dialing in your first shot.

Another tip in creating a good cup of espresso is by grinding the coffee just when you are about to use it.

How Do You Make Coffee with an Espresso Machine​

Guide on How Do You Make Coffee with an Espresso Machine

To make a perfect shot of espresso, you need to have the proper equipment and skills. And this article would teach you the entire process of espresso making.

1. Turn on and preheat your espresso maker

Before you even begin, you have to make sure that your espresso maker has been preheated, and this takes about 25 minutes, depending on the machine that you have. If you are opting for a quicker process, you can pull a blank shot by removing the espresso from the portafilter. This method also preheats your shot.

2. Measure and grind your beans​

Place your grinder setting to fine grind size and put your portafilter on the scale. Follow your portafilter’s capacity for the amount of ground coffee that you are allowed to put.

Take note of how much coffee grounds you use to be consistent throughout the dialing.

Some espresso machines have a built-in grinder, and for those types, all you have to do is to grind into the portafilter. If you see some little mountains of coffee grounds in your portafilter basket, simply use your hand to remove the excess coffee. You need to smooth it down so you can begin applying pressure with your temper.

3. Tamp your grounds​

The coffee beans need to be distributed evenly prior to tamping, and this can be done by tapping the side of the portafilter lightly or by leveling off the espresso grounds with the side of your finger.

An important tip when tamping is to press down straight and only use a good amount of pressure. A 30 lb. of pressure is way too much and make sure always to have an even puck.

Give a quick spin to your tamper to smoothen the top of the espresso puck and remove any excess coffee that is clinging to the side or top of the portafilter. Then you are ready to brew!

Be patient with tamping as it needs constant practice to get better at it.

4. Pull your first shot​

Pulling a shot may take you about 20 to 30 seconds per pull that will give you about 2 oz. Which is equivalent to a double shot. This shot of espresso should come out as rich, dark, and sweet.

5. Dial in the shot​

A good espresso machine will give you an indication of how good or poor your extracted shot is. If your machine has a pressure gauge, check the pressure as it will help you adjust your next shot. And if your espresso machine does not have a gauge, simply do it manually by tasting the espresso.

You may have to change to a finer grind if your espresso pulls too quickly, and change to a coarser grind if your espresso is taking a long time to pull. Note that every time you change your grind size, you also need to replace your portafilter.

A bitter taste means that your espresso is over-extracted, and sour taste means that it is under-extracted. Switching between light and dark roasts also means repeating the dialing process every time.

At this phase of espresso-making, determine how you want your coffee to be. Do you want it pure, or do you want a latte?

6. Steaming the milk​

If you have decided to make a latte, it would be great if your machine has a built-in steam wand because if not, then you need to use a milk steamer to make steamed milk.

To use the steam wand, first, you need to pour cold milk into the stainless steel milk pitcher, then turn on your steam wand quickly to remove any condensation. After this, place the steam wand tip under the surface of the milk, then turn on the steamer and froth the milk until your desired consistency.

When you have achieved the preferred consistency of the froth, stick the tip to the bottom of the milk vessel, and keep steaming milk until your desired temperature.

Heat is needed to foam the milk, and if you do not have enough heat, the foam will not stay together. However, if there is too much of it, the milk will have an unpleasant and burnt taste.

How Do Espresso Machines Work

Understanding How Do Espresso Machines Work

Making espresso is a daily task for many people around the world. But many also don’t understand how do espresso machines work. What makes the pressure so that it can brew espresso with 9 bars of pressure.

Espresso machines work as extended baristas arms. The espresso maker brews coffee by using pressurized water into the ground coffee. The filter is used to produce a dense and thick coffee called espresso. The 9 bars of water pressure the machines offer what makes espresso and steams to froth milk. Multiple designs have been developed to create espresso. Some machines share common parts, such as portafilter and grouphead. Others have steam that frothed milk for coffee beverages like caffe latte and cappuccino.

Copper tubes, intelligent firmware, stainless steel boilers, and hardware are some of the components of espresso machines. Everything was designed, programmed, and precision-engineered. The inside of the espresso machine is a jungle of metal, steam, and wires. Underneath the bells, chrome, and whistles, many espresso machines function the same, which is forcing hot water through finely-ground coffee.

Espresso machines' components are pump-driven or air-pump-driven, steam-driven, and piston-driven. It can also be automatic or manual. But how does an espresso machine work? What is the quickest and easiest way to understand their functions without needing to stir the mechanical thick?

You would be able to understand how the espresso machine works by following the water from the source to the coffee. Professional machines can be classified into two different categories of how the boilers are designed.

Heat Exchange Boiler

The most popular variety of espresso machines is the one with an HX or heat exchange boiler. There is a coffee boiler encased with a steam pot. The water in making espresso is warmed by the steam boiler and is called a heat transfer boiler. When using an HX boiler, there is a minimum temperature variation between shots due to the heat block and simplified build. Moreover, there are no such parts that need service or maintenance. This is the design of the first espresso machines.

Dual Boiler

Dual boiler means that the machines have separate water used to brew the espresso and the steam boilers as they both have their own heating elements, which can be adjusted separately. With a dual boiler machine, you can adjust the water temperature to suit your coffee. Having the right pressure and water temperature, you can achieve the perfect coffee that will suit your taste.

An espresso maker that is well maintained can easily last ten or more years. Although it costs quite a bit, it is worth keeping good care of. Besides, the espresso taste it brings is what is important.

Every piece of equipment has its own advantages and disadvantages, but most high-end machines produce high-quality results. They allow consistent results even in the hands of the most novice barista. However, some other factors take you from a good espresso to a great one. One of which is starting with an excellent quality coffee.

How Does an Espresso Machine Work?​

The inside of espresso machines is composed of wires, metal, and steam whose function is to force hot water down the finely ground coffee. But how does an espresso machine function?

Generally, in this machine, water goes through 4 phases, which include: water source – pump – boiler – group head.

The Water Source​

Water is required to make an espresso machine work, and for home espresso machines, water may come from 2 sources, which can either be: a plumbed connection to a consistent water supply or a reservoir that is found in the machine. The water source will be dictated by how the machine will be used.

The Pump – The Heart of the Espresso Machine​

Around 9 bars of pressure or 130 psi is the needed pressure to force the water through a tightly packed finely ground coffee, and a modern espresso machine already makes use of electric pumps, which makes creating a single shot much easier and convenient.

The two types of electric pumps used at home are vibratory pumps and rotary vane pumps. The vibratory pump is a piston that is attached to a magnet inside a metal coil, while a rotary pump is a more complex mechanism with a motor spinning a disc inside a large, round chamber.

The Boiler- Bringing the Heat​

To transform coffee into an excellent espresso, pressurized hot water is required, and the boiler is where the machine adds heat. A boiler’s main job is to heat and hold the pressurized water that is coming from the pump.

Crafting an espresso is said to be a delicate art as you need a great amount of precision, and small changes can certainly affect the quality of a single shot.

The Group Head​

The final stop of the water before it goes down the espresso machine is the group head, and it comes with four basic parts which are: portafilter, space for the portafilter to lock in, a method of activating the pump, and the passage for the water to move from the boiler to the portafilter.

How Do You Make Coffee with an Espresso Machine?

To make an excellent cup of coffee, there are 4 main processes involved, and these are: the grind, the pour or the extraction, texturing or heating the milk, and pouring the milk.

The first step, which is the grind, is where most people make mistakes because they fail to adjust the grind size. It is important to know that the grind needs to be set daily as humidity affects it.

The extraction or pour depends on the grind and the tamp, but since most machines are already automatic, the size of the shot of coffee should already be set. A nice golden and even- looking crema is what you are looking to achieve, and if you do not have this, you would have to start all over again because it means that your coffee will not be good at all.

The milk needs to be equally perfect as it needs to be smooth and silky and not very hot. All these processes are fairly as important as the other, and each component needs to be precise to achieve a perfect espresso.

List of the Best Espresso Machines

How Do You Make Coffee with an Espresso Machine?​

To make an excellent cup of coffee, there are 4 main processes involved, and these are: the grind, the pour or the extraction, texturing or heating the milk, and pouring the milk. Your espresso machine does not have to be an expensive device. You can choose among the best espresso machine under 500.

The first step, which is the grind, is where most people make mistakes because they fail to adjust the grind size. It is important to know that the grind needs to be set daily as humidity affects it.

The extraction or pour depends on the grind and the tamp, but since most machines are already automatic, the size of the shot of coffee should already be set. A nice golden and even- looking crema is what you are looking to achieve, and if you do not have this, you would have to start all over again because it means that your coffee will not be good at all.

The milk needs to be equally perfect as it needs to be smooth and silky and not very hot. All these processes are fairly as important as the other, and each component needs to be precise to achieve a perfect espresso. With milk, foam and espresso, you can make many types of espresso drinks.

How Do You Use an Espresso Machine at Home?​

If you want to use an espresso machine at home, there are several of them in the market. Choose one that is easy to use and is capable of making high-quality espresso. Choose a compact machine, has a good quality, and is sturdy. With these at home, the only thing you need to know is how to make espresso coffee.

To use an espresso machine:

First is to pull out the reservoir and fill with water then slide it into place. Then ensure that the water intake tube is placed inside the tank.

Next is to depress the button, which will turn red. Wait for about 40 seconds to preheat the machine. When complete, the green light will turn on.

Then comes the frothing of the milk, which is done by filling the pitcher with an adequate amount of cold milk. Do not fill to the rim as it will overflow.

Next is to depress the button on the lower right of the machine to prepare steam for frothing, and the green light will turn off. After a few seconds, it will turn on again. Note that the 1st few seconds of heating the milk is highly essential because it is when you can produce the most froth.

Once done, pull away from the steamed milk from the wand and turn the knob off. Immediately and gently wipe the wand with a clean and wet washcloth to remove the milk residue.

When through with this process, wait for the green light to turn on again, then put the portafilter beneath the brewing group while it is empty—then press the top- right button to bring a shower of hot water into the portafilter.

When it is filled, and the espresso has been tamped, align the handle to 45 degrees, and insert it into the group head. Twist the handle back and fit it tight.

Ready for the shot of espresso!

What Kind of Coffee Do You Use with an Espresso Machine?​

You can use any type of roast for an espresso maker, like the Keurig espresso machine, but a dark, espresso or French roast will give the best results. After choosing the roast, select the type of coffee that you would like to use, such as Ethiopian, Colombian, Espresso Roasts, Indonesian, and Blends. There are some who are concerned about how much caffeine in espresso. For them, it is best they choose their own blends.

Do You Use Regular Coffee in an Espresso Machine?​

You can use regular coffee, but it is not recommended as you need fine grounds. You can use any coffee beans or espresso grounds. A super automatic espresso machine can use any type of coffee bean. The machine will automatically grind the bean according to the type of beverage.

Conclusion​

If you are an espresso lover, knowing how to use an espresso machine is definitely worth the time and effort as you can make one for yourself anytime that you like, and you would appreciate espresso even more.

More Posts in this Category:

Nespresso Vertuo Vs Original: Which model is Superior?
Cafe au Lait vs Latte: What Makes them Different?
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