The perfect espresso: How?

Making the perfect espresso sounds very simple. You grind beans, put the ground coffee in the filter, place the filter in the espresso machine, press the button and you're done ... Nothing could be further from the truth. A really good espresso involves more than just the actions you take. A really good espresso requires precision work.

What could go wrong while making an espresso? The answer is: a lot. Consider, for example, a wrong grind of the coffee, too little coffee or too much coffee and / or inconsistent tapping. Everything you do, from buying coffee beans to when you take the first sip of your freshly brewed espresso, will affect the quality of your espresso.

Everyone wants to enjoy a delicious espresso, right? We have listed a number of tips & tricks for you. This way you will become a real home barista in no time.

Tips & Tricks

The right bean
A good coffee bean is the basis of every coffee. Of course you can also use (quick) filter ground coffee to make an espresso, but we recommend using fresh beans. Filter ground coffee is less fine than espresso ground coffee should be. The taste of this is less intense, because when you make filter coffee, no pressure is exerted during the extraction: the water should drip easily through the coffee. When you use fresh coffee beans and grind them just before brewing coffee, the flavors are released as optimally as possible. You also control the grinding degree yourself. So that’s a win-win.

A clean portafilter
Make sure your portafilter is clean before you start making coffee. Moisture and residual coffee can cause the espresso to have a bitter taste.

Dose properly
Make sure there is enough coffee in your filter. With an on-demand bean grinder, the grinding process is very simple. You press the button and your filter is filled with the correct amount of coffee in an instant. If you exactly want the right dosage, you can view the amount of coffee with a scale. The right ratio: with 18 grams of coffee you can make 36 ml of espresso.

Correct grinding setting
When you are using fresh beans to make an espresso, which we recommend, you need to choose the right grind setting. A grind that is too coarse results in a watery, weak and sour espresso. This is because there is more space between the coffee particles, so the water will quickly flow through the filter when it is put under pressure. If you use a grind that is too fine, this also has consequences for the taste and strength of your coffee. When you grind your coffee very finely, it is assumed that many more flavors are released during the extraction than when you grind the coffee very coarsely. Too much flavor isn't always good, however. This way you can quickly ruin a delicious sweet coffee specialty, ending up with a bitter espresso.

Good distribution in the filter
When you grind coffee, a kind of mountain is often formed in the filter. When you then tamp the coffee with the tamper, a skewed dosage is created. Logically, there is more coffee in the middle of the filter than at the edges. That is why it is important that you distribute the coffee before tamping it.

Consistent tamping
Tamping the coffee seems like the easiest step in making the perfect espresso. But here too you can make the mistake of tamping the coffee too hard. The purpose of tamping is to remove the air in the filter. The coffee is sufficiently tamped when you feel that the coffee does not go down any further. Make sure the tamper tamps the coffee perfectly horizontally. This way there are no inequalities in regard to the coffee layer in the filter.

Make coffee right away
When you place your filter in the piston machine, you must immediately press the one-cup or two-cup button. Do you get a phone call while you put the filter in the machine? Do not answer. Are your kids being annoying again when you place your filter in the machine? Let them be annoying. Nobody should get in the way of your coffee moment, right? It is important to finish the preparation of the coffee immediately. Because if you don't do this, there is a chance that the top layer will "burn", resulting in a bitter taste.

Extraction time
You also have to keep an eye on things while the machine is doing it’s job. In the case of a short extraction time, there is under extraction. The coffee will then have a slightly sour taste. How is this possible? It could be for 2 reasons. Either there is too little coffee in the filter holder or the coffee is ground too coarsely. When there is a long extraction time, there is overextraction. The coffee then has a bitter undertone. This can also have two reasons. Logically, too much coffee is used or the coffee is ground too finely.

Now I can hear you thinking: what is the perfect turnaround time for an espresso? That is between 23 and 30 seconds. Grab the stopwatch!

We hope these tips & tricks will help you on your way to making the perfect espresso. We wish you lots of fun experimenting!


Mister Barish
North Star Coffee Roasters
Clive Coffee
Paulig: Barista Institute


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