Espresso is prepared by pushing hot water through a layer of compacted ground coffee, contained in a port-filter. Espresso is a very concentrated coffee, with a lot of body, aroma, and flavor. It contains a lot of coffee oils and solids. The most distinctive features of espresso are the foamy layer on top and the low volume of the drink.
This is understandable, because making the perfect espresso is a complex, elaborated, sometimes intuitive combination of coffee quality, extraction pressure and time, water temperature, coffee grind, and roast, and more… If only one of these parameters is off, your espresso shot will be an average one.

The Perfect Espresso Recipe

The perfect espresso is a combination of the coffee beans’ quality, the espresso machine’s quality, and the barista’s skills.
This is what makes up a great espresso shot:

  • An espresso shot contains around 1 oz of brewed liquid and is made from 6 to 8 grams of ground coffee.
  • A double shot, or a doppio, is prepared with 12-14 grams of grounds.
  • The brewed coffee is a mixture of acids, proteins, sugars, aromatic oils, and other substances, in perfect concentration and proportion to enhance the aroma and taste to maximum.
  • The extraction is made by passing hot water – 190 to 202 °F (the espresso brewing temperature in Celsius is 88-94 °C) with a pressure of 9 atmospheres, through the ground coffee.
  • Coffee is placed in the port-filter and pressed with a special tool, (espresso tamper), with about 30 pounds force for that perfect stream of water to pass through the entire dose. If the coffee is too finely ground, the tamping should be lighter.
  • Espresso is just great as it is, with no additions to it, besides maybe a little sugar, or a biscotti. But many people love it as a base for other coffee beverages, such as latte, or cappuccino, or a macchiato.


Here are some tips for preparing your best ever espresso:

  1. Buy coffee as fresh as possible
  2. If you don’t buy an “espresso blend”, choose a “Full City Roast” or a “Vienna Roast” more about coffee roast
  3. The espresso is brewed at 195 °F to 205 °F, (90 °C – 96 °C). Some espresso machines need a warmup before pulling the shot. If your machine doesn’t have that in its program, just pull a blank shot.
  4. A regular, single shot is made with around 7-8 grams of ground coffee. You can play a bit with this but start with the standard to get a decent shot, and then experiment your way to greatness.
  5. Always freshly grind coffee, always.
  6. Tamp with around 20 lb to 30 lb pressure. As a beginner, you can tamp on a scale, in time you’ll get the feeling of it.
  7. The grind should be espresso grind size, and it dictates the tamping The finer the grind the lighter the tamping. But this is only if you want to play around. Most baristas will keep the tamping at 30 lb pressure and adjust the grind until they find the sweet spot.

Coffee beans choice: you can’t go wrong with Brazilian beans, but if you buy espresso marketed beans, you will be sure you bought good coffee. You can’t go wrong with Illy, but is more expensive.

"Berry India" is neither endorsed, sponsored nor has any affiliation with Nespresso, Dolce Gusto. Nespresso ® and Dolce Gusto® is a trademark of Societe des Produits Nestle S.A.