• Alex

Espresso Basics

Whilst so many people are currently at home making coffee for themselves, there are some SIMPLE rules to stick to when pouring an espresso.

Ratio of 2:1 in 30 seconds

But first, what is an espresso?

Think of an espresso as the foundation for all coffee drinks you can order from a coffee shop. Or for anyone out there who enjoys an alcoholic beverage, its the shots that build a cocktail.

Over time, the measurement of an double espresso has changed and with this change it enables you to find your own take on it. Traditionally a double espresso is a 60ml shot pulled in 30 seconds, and this is where I would tell you to make your first easy change...weigh don't measure your shots.

Unless you have some shot glasses with 2oz marked on (roughly 60ml) in the kitchen, it is a lot easier to pull balanced espresso shots using a set of scales. How we do this, is we calculate a ratio of ground coffee in, to extracted coffee out.

Here are some easy numbers to explain.

15g of ground coffee

2:1 ratio

30g of espresso out

Pulled in 30 seconds


Try yourself...

  • Place your portafilter (handle) on the scales and zero.

  • Grind your coffee into the portafilter basket [weight will vary dependant on the machine you have and can range from 14g-22g] and take a note.

  • Place portafilter into your machine.

  • Place your cup on the scales and zero.

  • Now place the cup underneath the portafilter.

  • Extract a double shot whilst starting a timer.

  • At the end of the double shot cycle, stop the clock and place the cup back on the scales.

You're trying to get two things

  1. The espresso to pour out in 30 seconds

  2. The espresso to weigh twice as much as the ground coffee you put in

After you have pulled your first shot, you are likely to require some adjustments. This is how I teach...imagine a jar filled with pebbles. If you were to pour water through the jar and needed to slow it down, you would need to add some sand into the jar. On the flip side, if you wanted to speed up the flow rate, then you would need some larger pebbles. (Don't forget to re-weigh your ground coffee after you've made any adjustments).

In coffee terms, if your espresso pours out faster than 30 seconds you need finer coffee (more sand). If it pours out too slow, you need to make your coffee more coarse (larger pebbles).

If you try to pour an espresso using these principles, I don't doubt that you will be happy with the results. It will also provide a baseline for how good coffee at home can taste.

I do understand that there are several other factors which can affect taste and flow rate, but in my opinion this is the best place to start. Also, different machines will have different controlling factors and going into too much detail won't necessarily apply to all.

[NOTE: I'm a big believer in 'stick with what you like'. Therefore, if you find a style espresso that you do like, then stick with it. However, if you want to experiment with how an espresso could taste, 100% try the 2:1 ratio in 30 seconds out.]

Enjoy and please send me any questions.

Check out my youtube video going over the points discussed in this blog. Thank you.

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