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Why Fresh Espresso Is the Best Espresso (And How to Make It) by Coffee Life, an EspressoWorks blog

It might seem like an espresso machine does all the work to get you that satisfying, steaming hot cup of espresso, but it’s not as easy as pulling a switch — there are lots of steps that you can take to ensure that your cup packs the most flavor and punch as possible. 

Here’s why fresh espresso is the best espresso (and how to make it) — to put it simply, fresh espresso is like the best cup of coffee concentrated into a perfect shot that you can enjoy in a variety of ways! Since there are a couple of steps involved in how to make it, let us be your guide as we show you how you can make your mornings even better with fresh espresso.

Choosing Your Coffee Bean

To make sure that your espresso is the freshest possible, you’ll need to grind your coffee beans for each shot of espresso right before you pull the shot because coffee can go stale rather quickly once it has been ground.

Regardless of how fancy your espresso machine might be, you will not get the best taste if you don’t start with prime coffee beans. While some people may feel more comfortable using coffee beans that have been specified as being intended for coffee, the choice is really up to you. Experiment with different roasts; and to find the freshest beans, check for a stamp or sticker that notes the date that the beans were roasted. 

To keep your espresso beans fresh in between use, store them in an airtight container in a cool and dark place. Ideally, your coffee beans should be consumed sooner rather than later, to enjoy your espresso as its freshest. It’s recommended to buy your coffee in small amounts that you can refresh often.

Dosing Your Shots

“Dosing” is a fancy way of saying measuring your coffee grounds. The coffee grounds used for your espresso are measured by weight. The type of shot that you’re pulling — such as ristretto, lungo, or doppio often determines how much coffee grounds that you use.

Taking the basket to be filled with the grounds, you should have just over 14 grams of grounds, which will be slightly overflowing from the basket, creating a small mound of grounds on top.

Settle & Clear Espresso Grounds

Everyone likes to put their own touch on how they settle their grounds. The goal is to get the grounds to settle into the portafilter, and it’s as easy as giving the basket a couple of little firm taps against a hard surface. Properly allowing your grounds to settle will ensure that you get a delightful taste from your espresso, which will lead to a lot less wasted shots.

After you’ve allowed your coffee beans to settle, next it’s time to clear the excess grounds from the basket. Use your finger to level off the top of the basket just by running your finger over the top with minimal pressure, and wipe off any remaining grounds with the tip of your finger.

How to Pull a Shot

Before you pull the shot of delicious fresh espresso, to get a barista-quality espresso, you’ll need to tamp the grounds. A tamper will compress the coffee grounds and will allow the pressurized water to flow through the grounds with ease when the shot is pulled. A tamper is used by placing it over the portafilter to apply pressure onto the grounds before it is locked into the espresso machine’s group head and pulled. 

Also, before pulling a shot of espresso, it is often recommended to run a few practice shots to warm up the machine and get the temperature just right.

Once you’re ready to pull the shot, place a cup under the group head and pull! Once you do this, the machine’s water pressure will start up and send pressurized water into the grounds and your fresh espresso will start pouring out. It’s recommended to observe the shot as it is extracted to ensure that you get a deep brown color, which is often an indicator of a desirable flavor. Based on what you observe in your cup, then you can adjust the amount of grounds the next time if necessary.

How to Froth Milk

Adding steamed milk (cow or milk alternative) to your espresso can enhance its flavor and take your cup of fresh espresso to the next level. A steam wand can be used by positioning its nozzle at a slight angle near the wall of your cup or pitcher so that it remains just below the surface of the milk. Once the wand is turned on, it will make your milk a steamy, frothy delicious addition to your fresh espresso.

So now that you know why fresh espresso is the best espresso (and how to make it), we encourage you to never stop learning and take your espresso-making adventures to the next level.