Making espresso drinks at home


great espresso maker

This isn’t a super automatic machine like you might find at a certain chain, but it does the trick nicely for making espresso drinks at home.

The shots pull well, and the right coffee will yield a good crema for those who are looking for it. The trick to pulling great shots is to find a good coffee, grind the beans appropriately for the machine, and to time the pull according to your tastes. A longer pull will give a more bitter flavor, but shorter pulls don’t bring out the flavors espresso is known for.

The steam wand gives a nice microfoam, even with skim milk, though it does take longer than you might think to fully heat the milk. Make sure you let the steam run for a bit, as it tends to release a stream of water for a few seconds before the pressure and temperature is at the right level.

Overall, this is an easy machine to use. It might take you some time and tinkering to get the flavor you enjoy from your favorite coffee shop, but if you have the patience for it, you can make some really great drinks with this machine.


What you should know before buying an espresso machine

Espresso machines are available in several types, most being either steam or pump espresso machines:

  1. Steam espresso machine: Using steam pressure to produce a quick and frothy espresso, a steam espresso machine is best for the beginner espresso maker because of its simple and inexpensive construction.
  2. Stovetop espresso machine: A type of steam espresso machine, it is heated on the stove top, until the optimal temperature forces pressurized water to be driven through the coffee. They often come with a steam wand for that creamy froth that makes an espresso special.
  3. Pump espresso machine: Pump espresso machines are considered the best for making an authentic espresso. A pump forces water through the boiler and then through the coffee grounds at an ideal temperature and pressure to create a rich and dark espresso. Automatic and semi-automatic espresso machines are types of pump espresso machines.
  4. Automatic espresso machine: Automatic espresso machines are fast and easy to operate. They offer pre-programmed espresso shot sizes for quick and consistent espresso.
  5. Semi-automatic espresso machines: Semi-automatic espresso machines offer more control than automatic models, giving you the ability to tinker with and perfect the process of grinding, tamping and brewing your espresso.
  6. Super automatic espresso machines: With the super automatic espresso machine, you simply press a button and the grinding, boiling and brewing is done automatically. It’s great for saving time in the morning or for serving family and friends in your home.

Consider these two key factors when buying your next espresso machine:
Time: If you like to spend the time and energy on brewing the best espresso possible, consider purchasing a semi-automatic model.
Convenience: To save time while still enjoying the espresso experience, consider purchasing an automatic, super automatic or steam model.

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Espress Blend Tips

These tips probably apply more to a commercial environment than a domestic one, but hopefully there are some useful reminders for anyone in here.

We’ve all ended up drinking espresso, somehow a delicious espresso remaining elusive.  These may seem obvious but all get overlooked from time to time.

1. Plan for palate fatigue

Palate fatigue is inevitable, and too much coffee doesn’t just change and dampen your ability to discern flavours – it also quickly affects your enjoyment of coffee too.  David Schomer made a very good point once – coffee never tastes better than when your body really wants it.  We can often be a lot more forgiving of flaws when drinking that first cup that we really want.  The opposite is true for me also.  After too much coffee nothing tastes good.  When my body has had enough caffeine an espresso may be technically correct but I won’t find it delicious.  At this point continued tasting is not particularly useful.

Scott Rao recommends not just spitting the espresso you taste, but also rinsing immediately afterwards with water.  This is pretty much the best way I’ve found.  Drinking less coffee slows my caffeine ingestion, and the rinsing slows general palate fatigue.

2. Don’t overreact

Frustration dialing in a grinder often leads people to react too quickly to a bad shot.  Making sure that you’ve isolated the problem before making a change is very important.   All too often a shot will run fast and a barista will immediately change the grind a little finer.  The next shot runs too slow.  Double check before making a change, because everyone makes mistakes – an accidental underdose for example.

3. Purge

Even the best grinder in the world retains quite a lot of ground coffee.  Most visibly in the throat between the burrs and the dosing chamber, but also in the dosing chamber as well.  Every grinder benefits from a decent purge – 10g to 15g is plenty.  Consider it an investment in the next shot, rather than a waste.  Ending up with a dose made up from a mixture of grind settings is not a good thing.

4. Taste tells you everything

It won’t always point to the problem, but the balance of the espresso will give you a pretty good idea of what is wrong.  Unbalanced, dominant acidity coupled with astringency points towards underextraction.  It could be a number of reasons – pour too fast, temp too low, shot volume too short – but you can be pretty confident that you haven’t taken enough from the coffee.  An excessive, dominant bitterness and an unpleasant finish will usually point to overextraction.

5.  Take a broad sampling

When you are dialling in things like brew temperature this is incredibly difficult to do from only a few espressos.  Tasting more will allow you to get a better idea of what is wrong.  Little mistakes made from shot to shot can easily obscure bigger problems.  I don’t feel confident about saying a brew temperature is wrong until I’ve experimented with a number of other things first.

Shared from Jim Seven (

Reason to have an espresso machine in office

Aside from espresso actually perking up your employees, there are several other benefits to introducing a new espresso machine to your office at this time of year. The weather is getting colder and storms are rolling in. The days are shorter and the nights come faster. These are all factors that contribute to lowered morale in the office. No one wants to make a trip to the local café when there’s torrential rain pouring down along with cold winds. Instead of your employees and partners having to do without their afternoon (or morning or evening) pickup, introduce a solution that means they don’t have to leave the building.

office espresso

  1. No Gaps in Productivity

When people have to go without their coffee, it can be more than an inconvenience for them. Working in an office often creates a routine for everyone involved and when that routine is interrupted, their whole day can feel wrong. An office espresso machine stops these gaps in productivity from happening whether it’s raining out, the line at the local coffee shop was too long, or people are simply running late. They’ll never have to give up this part of their routine because the espresso they want will be right there in the office when they arrive.

  1. Aesthetic Appeal

The old coffee maker in the break room might be sputtering and a little decrepit with all the use it takes to keep every employee happily caffeinated. Set up a whole new beverage station with a shiny espresso machine as the focal point. A simple tablecloth under the machine and a couple of stylish containers for extras close by will complete the station and make it look as good as the coffee that comes from it will taste.

  1. Encourage Creativity

Any new addition to the office can spur creativity but an espresso machine is an excellent incentive to encourage even more. Example: give out tickets for specialty additions or for permission to use the espresso machine at all. When an employee provides exemplary support, they can get extra tickets. There are other games you can play along this line like a voting box for a “drink of the week” where people can try to come up with new recipes that everyone will enjoy or getting the biggest coffee enthusiasts of the office together to choose new beans for the machine each month. These little ideas and games give people something extra to look forward to at the office and gives them a reason to use critical thinking skills that will benefit them in other areas of their work.