Espresso Brew Guide

Espresso Brew Guide

How to make great espresso

Espresso coffee drinks are the most sought after in coffee shops in the UK and Europe. At our shop in Brighton, Bond St Coffee, about 90% of the coffees sold are espresso based drinks. Perhaps the main reason for this is that they require fairly expensive equipment and lots of practice! If you invest in the correct espresso machine and coffee grinder you can make great espresso at home. Here is our espresso guide. This should get you started but practice is essential!:


  • Keep your espresso machine clean and always use freshly filtered water and freshly roasted speciality coffee beans.
  • Start off with a set brew recipe. Using a set of scales weigh the coffee dose directly into your portafiler. Make sure you use the correct amount for the basket. A brew ratio of 1:2 is a good starting point. For example, use 18 grams of ground coffee and aim to extract 36 grams of espresso over 28-30 seconds.
  • Distribute the coffee evenly in the basket. This is very important as uneven distribution will result in a poor extraction.
  • Tamp the coffee evenly and make sure the tamper is level when doing so.
  • Brush off any lose coffee grinds and lock the portafilter into place on the machine.
  • Zero your scales. Start the extraction and timer
  • Stop the extraction when your scales reach the desired brew weight. You might need to stop a gram or two early to account for the delay. Note the times on the stop watch
  • Assess the extraction. Was it faster or slower than the target timing? If the extraction was in the region of 22-35 seconds taste it and see what you think!
  • Too sharp/sour or salty and timing under 28 seconds: Make the grind more fine to slow the extraction down.
  • Too bitter or harsh and timing over 30 second: Make the grind more course to speed up the extraction.
  • Go back to step 2 and try again. Always purge some coffee between grind adjustments to clear any coffee stuck in the grinder.



  • Make small grinder adjustments. Large movements can cause big changes in timing.
  • Try using a bottomless portafilter so that you can watch the extraction. Read more about using a bottomless portafilter via this link.
  • Evenness of extraction is very important. If the extraction is not even across the bed of coffee you will struggle to achieve good sweetness, balance and body.
  • Always use freshly roasted, speciality coffee beans. Ideally let the beans rest for about 10 days from roast and use within one month.
  • For more information, tips and comprehensive guides please have a look at