How to make the perfect Espresso Coffee


Hi, my name is Ash, and I'm head of coffee here at Rave, and today I'm going to take you through how to make the perfect espresso at home. Now this one's a little bit tricky because everyone's got slightly different machinery and a slightly different grinder setup.

I'm going to be doing the demonstration on a Sage barista pro, and with this we've got an integrated grinder and that just means that the grinder is within the same machine that we're going to get the coffee from.

What you will need, is the following:
- Espresso machine
- a grinder and
- whole coffee or pre-ground if you don't have the grinder
- scales and a timer.

Today, we're going to be using the Rave fudge blend this is a really versatile yet forgiving coffee and makes a great espresso or flat white in particular. You can buy pre-ground for espresso from our website, but because of the amount of different machines on the market with varying pressures, it really is worth investing in a burr grinder.

That way, you have much more control over the final taste. You'll find that lighter and darker roasts behave differently as what is the age of the coffee and even the water quality. But that's a whole other video is important that your machine is nicely warmed up and you want the portafilter to be warm too. So before you begin, run a dummy shot.

So you want to make sure that your basket is nice and clean and dry. So take a clean cloth and just wipe that out. We're going to use a set of scales to help us so pop the portalfilter onto the scales and zero the scales before grinding.

So we're looking for around 17 grams of coffee. This is a pretty snug fit. If you've got smaller baskets, you can reduce the coffee dose, but you also need to reduce your yield or output. But try and stick to a 1:2 ratio.

This means that the volume of dry grounds that goes into your basket should give you an espresso yield of double that. So 17 grams in 34 grams of espresso out. We want to level off the bed of coffee and just clean off the feet and the handle, and that will stop any coffee grounds from getting stuck up inside the machine.

Now we're going to tamp. We're going to take our tamp in the ball of our palm and place our thumb and forefinger right on the surface of it so that we know when we're applying pressure, we're doing so evenly across the bed.

Try not to worry about how much pressure you're using, as long as you can replicate a similar thing each time. So before we put the portafilter into the machine, make sure that you've done a purge shot between espressos. This just rinses off any old grounds that have collected inside the machine from the previous coffee. OK, so we're going to lock the portafilter in nice and tight, and we're going to use a set of scales again.

This feels a bit cumbersome, but with an automatic machine like this, you'll be able to just use them the first time. Save your settings and then the machine will replicate the yield for you, for your next shot. So we place the scales on the drip tray and our cup onto the scales right underneath the spout.

I'm going to pop the machine into a manual mode if you look at your own machine's manual to see if and how you can do this at home. When we press the double shot button. Water will start to pass through the bed of coffee.

You want to start your time at the same time you press this button. Luckily for us, this machine has a timer built in. Keep your eye on the flow and on the scales. We want to start seeing the coffee drip through around ten seconds, the flow should be slow at first and a nice golden brown and this will pale and speed up over the next few seconds. When we get to around 27 grams on the scales we're going to press the button to stop the flow again, and a small amount will continue to drip through and take us to around 34g.

Now you have your espresso. Your espresso should taste sweet, balanced and full bodied. The texture of espresso allows the flavours to linger and dance around your palate and should leave you wanting to sip more. It's important to note that this is just a guideline to get you started. You might want to make some adjustments, and you also might run into problems as well. The most common problems you'll find will be that your shot time is much too fast or much too slow.

So if your shot time is too fast, you will need to find the grind, so make the particle size smaller.
if your shots are running too slowly, you want to make those particles bigger, so you increase the grind size.

If you're buying pre-ground coffee, you obviously can't change the grind size, but you can change the dose. So if your coffee is running much too quickly, then you can try and pack a little bit more coffee into your basket. And if it's running too slowly, you can drop your dose down by gram or two and see if this helps.

Consistency is key here. So weight what goes in and what comes out? And use a timer to check how long it takes to achieve your espresso.

Make sure you find what tastes good for you and then note what you did, and then you can replicate this next time. You'll have to waste a small amount of coffee to get it dialled incorrectly, but believe us, it is worth it in the end.

This and other brew guides are available on our website ravecoffee.co.uk - best of luck with your brew.

Frequently asked questions

What is espresso?

An espresso machine pressurises hot water and pushes it through finely-ground coffee packed into a filter. The result is a creamy (the creamy top is called ‘crema’) caffeine packed short shot of coffee.

How much caffeine is in espresso?

Around 90-100 milligrams per cup. However, due to the size of an espresso shot, aprox 30ml, there is probably more caffeine in an average cup of coffee made using a cafetiere.

What's the best coffee grind size for espresso?

The coffee should be ground very fine, slightly finer than sand but not quite powder like. It should resits the flow of the brew water to produce a thick honey like shot of coffee with good crema in 25-30 seconds

How many grams of coffee for espresso?

On average a double shot of espresso uses Aprox 15 to 20g of dry coffee grounds.

What's the correct brew ratio for a double shot of espresso?

Espresso brew ratio is 1:2. One part coffee to two parts water. An example would be 18g dry coffee to 36g of brew water

What can I do if my espresso is pouring too fast?

If your extraction is too fast, less than 25 seconds, adjust your grind finer. If you are using ground coffee then add more to the basket and/or tamp harder.

What can I do if my espresso is coming out too slow?

If your extraction is too slow, greater than 30 seconds, adjust your grind coarser. If you are using ground coffee then add slightly less to the basket.

How old should be coffee be after roasting for espresso?

You can start to enjoy your coffee from day 5 after roasting but the flavours with further develop in the weeks after this. Before 5 days your espresso may be sour due to degassing after roasting.

My espresso is sour, what do I do?

Sour may be a sign that the coffee is under extracted ie it poured too quickly or is too fresh (less than 5 days from roast date). See FAQ for espresso pouring too fast.

My espresso is bitter, what do I do?

Sour may be a sign that the coffee is over extracted ie it poured too slowly. See FAQ for espresso pouring too slow.

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