How to make barista-quality espresso coffee at home

Perfect daily grind

10 min read

Preparing good espresso doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might think. With the correct equipment and a little bit of know-how, you’ll soon be pulling great shots from your own home coffee station.

  • Espresso is a 25–35 ml beverage prepared from 7–9 grams of coffee through which clean water of 90.5-96.1ºC has been forced at 9–10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brew time is 20–30 seconds.
  • Good coffee starts with good coffee beans. “First of all, you should have a specialty coffee,” Kim tells me. “We could say, one that’s fresh, recently roasted, with tones of chocolate, red fruits, sugar, caramel… slightly less acidity because the acidity always comes to the forefront in espresso.
  • Good equipment won’t guarantee a barista quality espresso, but it does help create it. You’ll need are a grinder and an espresso machine.
  • When you’re ready to grind, consider grind size. Grind size is important because it affects the extraction rate of the flavor and aroma compounds in the beans. The finer the grind size, the quicker extraction takes place.
  • How much water should you use? Well, that depends on how strong you want your coffee to be. Kim recommends starting with a 1:3 ratio. For every gram of dry coffee, you want 3 ml of espresso in the cup.
  • It’s not just about how much water you use: it’s also about what kind of water. Poor-quality water can damage your equipment. Hard water, in particular, can lead to limescale build-ups that can affect the machine’s performance. What’s more, water quality can influence the taste of the coffee. If your tap water has been treated with chlorine, it can make your espresso dull. Water that’s too hard can lead to dull brews. On the other hand, soft water can leave your coffee flat or lacking in body.
  • And finally, you’re ready to pull that espresso shot. But stop: before you begin, what happens if your coffee is unevenly distributed in the portafilter? The simple answer is: bad coffee.
  • Once your coffee is correctly distributed, you can proceed to tamping. Danilo tells me, “We need to tamp the coffee evenly and consistently to extract flavors and sugars into the cup. Even as a home user, you have to do it to get a great result.”