Espresso Brew Guide

Mastering Espresso: A Guide To Brewing & Dialling In

If you're passionate about coffee, you've likely experienced the allure of a perfectly pulled shot of espresso. The rich, concentrated flavours, the golden crema, and the aroma that fills the room—it's a coffee lover's dream. But achieving that espresso nirvana takes practice, patience, and the right know-how. In this blog post, we'll dive into the art of brewing and dialing in a shot of espresso.

Equipment and Ingredients

Before we delve into the process, let's make sure you have the right equipment and ingredients at your disposal:



  1. Espresso machine
  2. Espresso grinder
  3. Portafilter and basket
  4. Tamper
  5. Scale
  6. Timer
  7. Freshly roasted coffee beans

Step 1: Grind Your Beans

The foundation of a great espresso shot is freshly ground coffee. Espresso grind is finer than table salt but coarser than powdered sugar. The grind size is crucial for controlling extraction. Start by grinding your coffee beans just before brewing to preserve their flavour.

Step 2: Dose and Distribute

Now, it's time to weigh your coffee dose. A standard espresso shot is about 18-20 grams of coffee. Once you've measured your dose, distribute the grounds evenly in the portafilter basket. This ensures even extraction. Use a distribution tool or simply shake and tap the portafilter.

Step 3: Tamp with Care

Tamping is an art. Apply firm and even pressure to the coffee grounds, creating a level surface. The goal is to ensure water flows evenly through the coffee bed. Your tamper should be level with the basket's rim, not at an angle.

Step 4: Time to Brew

Place the portafilter in the machine and start your shot. The ideal shot time can vary, but a good starting point is around 25-30 seconds. Watch the liquid flowing from the spouts; it should be a consistent, syrupy stream.

Adjusting Your Shot: Dialing In

Dialing in your espresso means fine-tuning it to perfection. Here are some factors to consider:


1. Grind Size: If your shot runs too fast (under-extracted) or too slow (over-extracted), adjust the grind size. Finer for slower, coarser for faster.


2. Dose: If your shot is too weak or too bitter, alter the dose. More coffee for strength, less for a milder taste.


3. Shot Time: Time your shots to get the right extraction. A general guideline is 25-30 seconds, but this can vary based on coffee and personal preference.


4. Brew Temperature: Espresso machines allow temperature adjustments. A higher temperature can enhance extraction, while a lower one may tone it down.


5. Pressure: Some machines enable pressure adjustments. Higher pressure can result in a richer, fuller shot.

Tasting and Enjoying

The true test of a dialed-in shot is your taste buds. Pay attention to the flavours, the crema, and the body. A perfectly balanced espresso shot should have a harmonious blend of sweetness, acidity, and bitterness.


Brewing and dialing in a shot of espresso is both a science and an art. It takes practice to find the sweet spot that suits your taste, the coffee beans you're using, and the equipment at your disposal. So, don't be afraid to experiment, taste, and adjust until you discover that perfect espresso shot that satisfies your coffee cravings. Happy brewing!