Steps in this Video:
- Learn how to choose coffee beans for espresso drinks
- Ensure that there are fresh, whole espresso beans in the bean hopper
- Place the portafilter under the grinder
- Select the grind size on the dial
- Select the shot size (single or double)
- Push the portafilter to trigger the grind cycle
- Make sure the grind is evenly distributed, fills the basket, and creates a small mound on top of the filter basket
- Pinch some of the fresh grounds and rub them in your fingers to get a feel for the size and consistency
- Grinding greatly affects the espresso taste
- Fresh beans that are freshly ground will make the best shot
- The fineness, or size of the grind is extremely important
- Different kinds of grinders produce different results – the conical burr grinder is the best type
Why Grinding is Important
Fresh coffee beans make better espresso. Buy your espresso beans whole (never pre ground) and in small batches from a reputable coffee shop or roasterie so that the shelf time is limited. Regarding grinding, the less time between grinding and extraction – the better. Never grind your beans hours or days before extraction. The optimal time between grinding and espresso extraction is under 1 minute.
The size, or fineness, of the grind is a crucial factor in the process of making espresso. Most expresso machines have an adjustment dial that allows the size setting to be fine tuned. There is one particular number, or setting, that will be the sweet spot. Your job is to find that spot, and then make slight tweaks to account for variables like different types of beans, the freshness of the beans, and various conditions. It’s really a matter of practice-makes-perfect, but when you do find that sweet spot, you’ll likely get a decent shot without fine tuning, even if it is not absolutely perfect.
The grind size also affects the length of time and the amount of expresso that is extracted. A good extraction for a double shot is about 4 ounces over about 20 to 30 seconds.
The amount of grinds that you’ll need in your portafilter depends on whether you will be making a single shot or a double shot. Depending on your machine, your grinder may be integrated into the espresso machine, or it may be a separate unit. In our videos, the burr grinder is actually part of the espresso machine, so grinding is simply a matter of moving the portafilter under the grinder and pressing a button (I’m using the Breville Barista Express).
The grinds should fill the portafilter and form a small heap on top. It is important the the grinds are distributed evenly as they fill the basket.