You’ve seen the espresso machines at your favorite coffee shop, but have you ever considered making your own espresso from home? In this article, we will go over the steps used with an espresso machine and then demonstrate a more affordable at-home method. You can, of course, get an espresso machine for your home, but considering they range from $130 to thousands of dollars, you may already have an Aeropress that you can use. For espresso shots, we recommend our dark roasted Brazil Cerrado Mineiro Fazenda bean. So, get your Hill Tree Roastery beans ready and let’s dive in.
Espresso is an Italian word very close to the English word “express” and it refers to hot water being “pressed” through finely-ground coffee. In a previous article, we talked about Grinding Beans for A Consistent Brew. (https://hilltreeroastery.com/blogs/news/grinding-beans-for-a-consistent-brew). When your coffee grinds have low contact time with your water, you’ll want to have a more fine grind, which is why you’ll need a very finely ground bean for a good espresso.
There are a few basic parts to an espresso machine:
The portafilter resembles a tiny pot. You have a handle attached to a basket where you will put your coffee. For espresso, you’ll want to use a finely ground coffee (about 22-24 grams). You will use a tamper to push the coffee and level it out. A lop-sided or uneven coffee surface in your portafilter will affect the brewing process. Once you have filled and tamped the coffee, you will attach the portafilter group head (sometimes called the “group”).
This is the part of the machine that pulls water through the portafilter and through the coffee grinds. The Group Head sends pressurized water from the machine and into the basket of grounds. This pressure will force the water through the coffee grinds dripping concentrated coffee into your cup.
From there your espresso can be used to create your favorite Americano (water and espresso), Latte (milk and espresso), and more!
If you like adding steamed milk, espresso machines come with a handy steam wand that not only steams your milk as the name implies, but it also froths it! The steam wand will force steam and air into your milk creating a whirlpool effect. If you are going to be using your steam wand, you should also grab yourself a frothing pitcher. These pitchers are deep enough for the steam wand and have a handle for better control.
You’ll also have a drip tray and depending on your unit you’ll have settings for steam control, and you may even have different sized portafilters. The features available on your espresso machine will vary, but the portafilter and group head do most of the work when brewing a great shot of espresso.
USING AN AEROPRESS
Now, let’s look at a more affordable alternative to making espresso at home. As the name implies, a good shot of coffee comes down to the pressure of the water flowing through your coffee grinds. While you’ll never quite get as perfect of a shot as you’ll get using an espresso machine, an Aeropress is pretty close in terms of flavor, but you won’t likely get the same texture. If you’re new to using an Aeropress, or just want a refresher, check out our AEROPRESS tutorial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXLBZpEeEA4).
You’ll use your AEROPRESS as you normally would, adding a filter in the drain cap. You can add more than one filter to help slow the flow of water and increase the pressure! Prime the filters as you normally would.
Next, prepare 2-3 tablespoons of finely ground coffee beans and place the grinds into the filter. It’s okay to add more coffee than normal as it will create a more concentrated shot of espresso. The more coffee and the finer the grind can make it more difficult to plunge, so don’t get too wild!
Finally, you’ll add your boiling hot water (about 3 ounces at 200 degrees is recommended). Wait about 45 seconds and then insert your plunger and gently press down. Remember it will be harder to plunge with the extra coffee, fine grinds, and double filters, so use a little extra caution and pressure than you normally would with your AEROPRESS.
Now that you have your shot of espresso, you can of course enjoy your shot or you can make a variety of popular espresso drinks.
As always, the perfect cup of coffee or a shot of espresso starts with the beans! Head over to the Hill Tree Roastery shop and sign up for the Roaster’s Passport (https://hilltreeroastery.com/collections/single-origin-menu/products/roasters-passport) to receive a different bag of organic single-origin coffee roasted to the beans ideal roast point. Your subscription will include tasting notes, brewing suggestions, and information about the farm and country of origin.
Christie Trent - Coffee Contributor / Staff Writer
Christie is a programmer, data nerd, and blogger. Christie is the founder of Athena Blue (athenablue.dev) where she works as a web and database programmer, and Pain Free Journey (painfreejourney.com) where she produces digital content to inspire those suffering with chronic pain. Although she enjoys many, her favorite Hill Tree coffee beans are the ones from Ethiopia.