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10 Tips for Making Perfect Espresso Coffee

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Are you wondering how the baristas at coffee shops can make that perfect cup of espresso coffee? In this article, we will share 10 tips that will help you make that perfect espresso coffee.

Espresso is the base for many coffee drinks such as cappuccinos and lattes. Perfecting your espresso will also lead to the other drinks getting better. It can be easy or difficult to make the perfect cup of espresso coffee depending on how you follow the recipe and if you avoid making a few common mistakes.

Making espresso coffee is a skill which requires perfection to achieve good results. Below are 10 tips for making that perfect cup of espresso coffee.

1. Portafilter needs to be clean:

A portafilter which is wet or has leftover coffee grounds on it will lead to a coffee that tastes bitter and over-extracted. The portafilter needs to be clean before adding the coffee.

2. Use a scale:

Using a spoon or eyeballing your coffee dose is one of the biggest reasons for a ruined cup of coffee. A scale should be used for measurements for a better coffee yield. Just being off by a few grams can change the ratio by a huge margin.

3. Only use freshly roasted beans:

Once the coffee beans are roasted they only have two to three weeks before they start losing their freshness and flavors. This is because during the roasting process the beans become porous which makes it easy for aromas to escape. 

That’s why it is best to buy from roasters who do it on the spot or roast in small batches and only when needed. You can also buy the green beans and roast the beans yourself. This way you will be able to experience the coffee at peak freshness and your coffee will be flavorful.

4. Use a burr grinder:

Grinding is as important as the coffee beans that you buy. Having a consistent grind is very important for extracting the flavors properly. A burr grinder also doesn’t overheat the beans during the grinding process like a blade grinder. Overheating the beans may lead to reduction in freshness. The grinder is also as important as the coffee machine if not more.

5. Use filtered water:

Your tap water might contain impurities and minerals that will alter the taste of your coffee. It’s best to use filtered water to keep the taste of your coffee purer. You can store the filtered water in the refrigerator for your coffee brewing purposes. Also, tap water might be hard which can be bad for your coffee machine.

6. Consistent Tamping:

Tamping the grounds into your filter with consistent pressure is important. For a good cup of espresso coffee the grounds should be properly leveled. Inconsistent tamping may lead to water flowing more from areas with bigger gaps in between them. This will lead to improper extraction of flavors which will ruin your cup of coffee.

7. Rinse the group head:

Rinsing the group head has two benefits; one it removes any previous coffee left in it and second it will help get the group head at proper temperature. A temperature difference in the machine components can lead to under extraction of coffee, which will make your coffee taste sour.

8. Use proper water brew ratio:

The water brew ratio is important and should be adjusted according to how strong you want your coffee to be. Generally a 1:3 ratio is recommended i.e., for every 1gm of coffee 3ml of espresso should be made. For stronger coffee use 1:2 ratio and try 1:4 ratio for lungo.

9. Adjust your variables in case of thin crema:

A good crema at the top of your coffee is an indication of a job well done. If you notice a thin or weak crema on top of your coffee then it could point towards many things such as the coffee beans being old or low pressure usage while brewing.

10. Steam milk before making espresso shots:

It is often best to steam your milk before making your espresso shots. This is because steaming milk takes longer than making espresso and your espresso shot might be ready before your milk is ready.

Step by step checklist for espresso brewing:

  • Use freshly roasted coffee beans.
  • Coffee beans should be consistently ground. Too fine will lead to over extraction and the coffee would end up bitter in taste. Too coarse will lead to under extraction and you will end up with a weak coffee. Also, a burr grinder should be used for the grinding purpose.
  • Tamp the coffee by applying light consistent pressure. In the end, you should have an evenly compressed coffee bed.
  • Rinse the group head with water for cleaning and warming it up.
  • If the cream is aromatic and flavorful then it is an indication of proper extraction of coffee. 
  • In case of coffee passing through too fast you need to grind the coffee finer and in case of slow passing, the coffee needs to be ground a bit more coarse.
  • Lastly for signs of good coffee, the coffee will drip from the coffee machine before a constant stream of espresso. Also, your cup of coffee will have a nice layer of crema on top of it.


Depending on your taste you can adjust various variables such as grind size, coffee brew ratio or coffee beans quality. It will take some tries before you find the right combination of that perfect cup of coffee. Experimentation is the key here and you should not shy away from it.

Just one small mistake can ruin your cup of coffee. That’s why it is important to perfect every single variable. Making espresso is an art and with time you will reach perfection. 

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