Espresso in the portafilter

For many people, espresso is the epitome of good coffee

Especially the cappuccino or latte macchiato are the reason for many people to visit a café. For us it is one of many methods - and when it comes to coffee at home, it is the most complex. Because in addition to a good portafilter machine that has to deliver constant pressure and temperature, you need a high-quality grinder that can not only grind finely but also evenly . Pre-ground coffee is taboo when it comes to espresso! Of course, a suitable tamper should not be missing to give the ground coffee the necessary strength so that the water does not flow too quickly at the 9-11 bar pressure. And of course, don't forget to clean the machine regularly.

When it comes to the parameters, some speak of fixed rules, such as a solo espresso with 30ml in 25-30 seconds and a double 60ml in the same time. This is a good guide, but will vary a bit depending on the bean you use and your taste. The amount per sieve then depends on the diameter of the sieve carrier and the degree of grinding. This is a good guideline for beginners. With smaller sieves, one should take correspondingly less.

Parameters at a glance

degree of grinding amount of coffee amount of water temperature total duration
Very fine Solo: 8-12g
Double: 16-18g
94-96°C 25-30s

Ok, how do I even get a good espresso out of it?

If you can call good equipment your own, you proceed as follows for a double espresso . The same applies to the single espresso, but experience has shown that the double espresso is always a little easier:

  1. Select a very fine degree of grinding, at which the ground material forms small lumps

  2. Weigh the grist with a good scale . With an E61 brew group (e.g. ECM or Rocket machines) the diameter is 58mm and for a "Doppio" you need about 16-18g of regrind.
  3. Distributes the ground coffee evenly in the portafilter by shaking (or a leveling tool).
  4. Press the tamper - holding your elbow up with a straight forearm - as centrally as possible on the ground material. The pressure should be repeatably firm.
  5. Hang in the portafilter and weigh your cup if there is no scale for the amount.
  6. Here we go! Turn on and stop time.
  7. Switch off after 25-30s and weigh the cup or read the amount of coffee

Made! But now it's getting really exciting

Case 1: The amount is about 60ml or 60g on the scales: congratulations! You are barista masters! Whoever gets it right the first time either has a lot of luck or skill. Even the professionals usually need 2-3 attempts for such a setting.

Case 2: The coffee flows through too quickly, the amount is significantly more than 60ml. The espresso is therefore under-extracted. You don't even have to taste it to know that it will taste watery, acidic and boring. More like a café crème from the fully automatic machine.

Solution: You have three set screws that lead you to the solution and have their influence exactly in the following order from a lot to a little:

    1. degree of grinding
    2. amount of coffee
    3. pad printing

If you are close to the result, for example you have 80ml in the cup, you should either increase the tamper pressure or the amount of coffee. If you are already at the maximum with the amount of coffee and the tamper pressure, then only the degree of grinding will help. Basically, you should only adjust the degree of grinding if you are "far away" from the desired result, e.g. 120ml already flow through in 30s.

Case 3: Very little coffee comes out, the amount is far less than 60ml. The espresso is thus overextracted . Some like such coffee as a ristretto (30-40ml), but for most it will be too intense, bitter and/or sour.

Solution: As before, you have the three adjusting screws and should also start with reduced tamper pressure. If the result is too far away, of course, reduce the amount of coffee a little.

Basically, keep going until you like the coffee. The rules with time and quantity are only guidelines. You can also set the machine pressure to 12 bar and get a completely different espresso with otherwise the same parameters. If you follow these instructions, with a little practice, you will be able to easily switch to new beans.

I can save coffee if I grind finer

Basically that is correct. However, the ground coffee is over-extracted at the same time and loses parts of the aroma spectrum. A well-known aluminum capsule manufacturer, for example, only takes 6g of ground coffee per capsule - and we all know how that tastes.

In addition, the "puck" - i.e. the ground coffee after extraction - becomes very watery and the sieve is difficult to clean. If this happens, the amount of coffee must be increased and/or the degree of grinding set coarser.