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How to Use an Espresso Machine

How to Use an Espresso Machine

Last updated on 4/8/2019

If you’re looking to diversify the coffee drink options in your cafe or restaurant, then it’s time you invested in an espresso machine. Espresso is a form of coffee that is finely ground and then brewed with a small amount of nearly boiling water. Each shot of espresso contains the same amount of caffeine as the standard-sized cup of coffee, which results in it having a stronger taste. To offset the bitterness, milk can be added to the espresso to make popular drinks like cappuccino, latte, and macchiato. Making espresso can be intimidating, especially for new baristas. So, we visited Square One Coffee in downtown Lancaster to learn how to make the perfect cup of espresso. Check out the video below.

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Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Use an Espresso Machine

Learn how to use an espresso machine in nine simple steps:

  • Make sure your portafilters are locked into the group head before use so that they are always hot when pulling a shot.

    • removing a portafilter from an espresso machine1.

      Detach portafilter and wipe clean to remove any leftover residue.

    • grinding coffee into a portafilter for making espresso2.

      Using an espresso bean grinder, dispense your freshly ground beans into your portafilter.

    • Before you re-attach your portafilter, you should purge the group head to run out any lower-temp water that could be resting in your water line.

    • leveling a portafilter with espresso grounds3.

      Level the grounds in a circular motion. Be sure to remove any crumbs lingering around the edge.

    • tamping espresso grounds4.

      Evenly tamp your grounds.

    • attaching a portafilter to an espresso machine5.

      Re-attach the portalfilter to the group head.

    • placing an espresso cup beneath an espresso machine6.

      Immediately begin brewing into an espresso shot glass.

    • espresso machine making espresso7.

      Keep an eye on the time it takes to reach your preferred volume of espresso.

    • pouring espresso into a mug8.

      Pour the shot into an espresso cup.

    • espresso in a black espresso mug on a saucer9.

      Place the cup on a saucer with a spoon and serve.

    Espresso Terms

    If this is your first time working with an espresso machine, then check out the definitions of these popular espresso terms for clarification on some of the phrases used throughout our instructions and video:

    • Crema - the light colored liquid that first comes out while extracting your espresso shot. After the darker espresso comes out and mixes with the crema, the lighter liquid filters up to the top, leaving a tan-colored layer on top of the darker espresso.
    • Group head - the metal disc-shaped piece of an espresso machine that the portafilter locks into. This is also where the hot pressurized water is distributed to create an espresso.
    • Portafilter - a handle that features a filter basket where you place your ground espresso beans. This is also where the water from the group head runs through.
    • Pulling a shot - using the machine to create a shot of espresso. This phrase is a reference to older times when baristas had to pull an actual lever in order to create a shot.
    • Purging the steam wand - allows steam to exit the wand, which helps to remove any residue and heats up your wand.
    • Tamping espresso grounds - compacting your espresso grounds into your portafilter. This helps the pressurized water extract more flavor from your grounds since there won't be any cracks and crevices for the water to pass through.

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