Espresso making can be both exciting and intimidating, so we wanted to make it as easy can be for you at home. There are infinite opinions and information on espresso which means the learning is never ending; even for own baristas at Atomic.
Knowledge and familiarity with the art will come with time as will your desire to learn more. This guide is here to help make sense of the world of espresso and to teach you how to make it brilliantly.
We have created this guide to be basic, demystifying and destupifying whilst covering all the basic fundamentals to make you the best home barista in your neighbourhood.
It has taken us years to conquer the art of espresso and we continue to challenge ourselves and push the boundaries in the art of espresso. We hope you have fun with learning and experimenting the craft that we enjoy so much.
When producing espresso, one of the most important factors to consider is the correct dose along with the right consistency of coffee grinds. Perfect these elements and you are on your way to producing the perfect shot.
All coffee grinders are different, much the same as espresso machines, yet they work on the same principles.
Most dosers are set to deliver 8-10 grams for a single basket and 18-21 grams for a double, depending on the size of your porta filter baskets. To achieve great espresso every time you must first make sure that your technique for dosing is consistent.
E.g. Fill, distribute, settle, level and tamp Consistent method / technique = consistent espresso.
So, you’ve got a good grinder, good coffee, and a good machine, but your shots still aren’t great? The chances are that your distribution might be off. “Distribution” means how evenly distributed the grinds are in the portafilter. Classic evidence for poor distribution is a shot that is looks good for a few seconds, and then suddenly gushes out a light-blonde mess. What’s happening is “channeling” – the pressurized water for brewing has pushed a hole in your puck and is flowing mostly through that hole rather than being pushed through the grounds. This means the water is not extracting flavour evenly and so the resulting shot will taste bad.
The first key to fixing distribution is to think about it. When you’re levelling off your coffee before you tamp, try to think about spreading the grinds around evenly, making sure to fill any fissures and to push grinds all the way to the edge. When you’re done pulling a shot, before you throw away the puck, take a look and see if you can spot any tiny pinholes (or larger holes!) on the top of the puck – these are probably signs of uncorrected clumping – or holes at the side of the puck, where water has pushed between the puck and the filter basket. With the fine grind needed for espresso, grounds can often form clumps, which can be broken up as you level the coffee before you tamp.
Before you fit the porta filter into the group head you must tamp the coffee. The reason we tamp coffee is to expel any air and to produce a flat and even surface that will offer equal resistance to the water passing through. Water is lazy and it will always find the easiest route through the dose.
An even surface will ensure an even extraction. To ensure an even and flavourful extraction, the filter must be full enough that when locked into the group head, the coffee will sit 1-2mm away from the showerhead. Creating this distance allows for expansion as it gets wet while keeping it compact and stationary.