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How to Make The Perfect Cup Of Espresso At Home

Rocket Espresso home coffee sitting besides a coffee grinder, coffee tamper, milk jug and decorative ornaments

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Love starting the day sipping a cup of freshly brewed espresso? Hate having to walk to your favourite coffee shop and wait in line before you get that wake-up kick?

This blog discusses the best way to make that perfect cup of espresso on your home coffee machine, just like a professional barista. For delicious cups of barista-quality coffee at home, keep reading.


What Is Espresso


Before we start with espresso brewing, it is essential to understand espresso and its nature. An espresso is a short coffee commonly recognised for its immense energy boost, small volume, and versatility of other coffee beverages one can make with a shot of espresso.

It is a 30 – 35 ml drink brewed from 6 – 9 grams of coffee, which is brewed with 90 – 95 ºC clean/filtered water, then forced under 8 – 10 atmospheres of pressure for at least 25 – 30 seconds.

Remember that 25- 30 seconds is just a rough guide. There is no hard and fast rule on the timer, which can vary depending on your goal. A coffee’s behaviour during extraction depends on factors such as coffee origin, grind size, freshness, roast profile and more.

People love an espresso shot for multiple reasons. Some go crazy over the smell, whereas some love it for the taste and instant energy boost it gives them. Others use it as the base of every coffee beverage, and the list continues.

Now that we have discussed the basic properties of espresso and why people love it let us discuss the best way to make a perfect cup of espresso at home.

Follow these steps to make the perfect cup of espresso on your home coffee machine:

  1. Fill the portafilter basket with fresh coffee grounds until it is full or overflowing.
  2. Tap the handle on the tamping mat to settle the grounds.
  3. Evenly distribute the grounds, so they are level with the rim of the filter basket, and discard any excess grounds.
  4. Use a tamper to firmly compress the grounds, then twist the tamper to smooth the surface of the grounds.
  5. Tamping pressure should be around 30kg, so the applied pressure should be very firm.
  6. Using a Rocket Espresso filter basket, the grounds should be level with the reference line inside the basket after tamping.
  7. Insert the portafilter into the group head and lift the brew lever to activate the pump.
  8. Monitor the flow of liquid.
  9. The volume of liquid should be 50-60ml in 20-30 seconds if using the double handle, or 25-30ml in 25-30 seconds if using the single basket.
  10. Stop the pump at the appropriate time.
  11. Serve the coffee immediately or mix it with milk to prepare an espresso-based beverage.
  12. Remove the portafilter and knock out the spent coffee.
  13. Wipe the filter basket clean and flush the group head.
  14. Return the portafilter to the group head to keep it heated.

Picking Good Quality Coffee Beans


The first step to good coffee brewing is by choosing good coffee beans. As many coffee aficionados say, “You can never acquire a good coffee with average coffee beans.”

If you are new to the coffee world and still learning to understand how coffee beans can affect the quality of your cup of espresso, we are here to help. If you are making coffee at home, it’s important to store your coffee beans appropriately to get the most out of them.

It is also important that coffee is well-roasted. Depending if the coffee beans you purchase are a dark or light roast can affect their flavour. A darker roast will give a bitter taste to the drink. In contrast, it will probably have an acidic taste and lack sweetness if it is too light.

Having fresh ground coffee does not mean using it as soon as it is ground. If coffee is too fresh, it can negatively affect the espresso brewing. Coffee must be given the time to degas. It is when coffee releases the carbon dioxide it absorbs during the roasting. Also, ensure not to let it degas for too long. Otherwise, it will lose its aroma and flavour. To ensure that your coffee is refined, we advise buying whole beans or a small amount of coffee and keeping it away from sunlight and heat.


Brewing Espresso


It’s not guaranteed that you’ll be able to make barista-quality coffee at home right from the start. To perfect your espresso shot, you’ll also need the proper training and expertise with your specific home coffee machine. It’s important to take care of the following things to brew the perfect espresso at home.


Measuring Coffee

You should always measure the coffee puck to ensure the dosage of each shot you extract from the coffee grounds until you are sure you are using the same quantity every time.

For a double shot of espresso, 14 to 18 grams of coffee should be enough. Most home coffee machines are different from one another, so you must experiment for a while until you get the correct measurement suitable to your taste.


Ground Coffee


In many cases, a coffee grinder is as essential as any other thing, but many people call the coffee machines the real magician. Because using the proper type of coffee grinder is necessary for the espresso beans to be adequately grounded.

Selecting the grind size suitable to your taste takes a bit of time. You would want to grind the beans to allow the perfect amount of water to run through. For an ideal espresso beverage, grind size should be fine, less bristly than sand, but not so thick that the water would not pass. A process of trial and error must be utilised to find the perfect cup of espresso for your taste.


Preparing The Perfect Shot


Fill The portafilter


Start with filling your portafilter with the correct dosage for double shot espresso, and weigh it to be sure that it is not more than 18 grams. When you fill the portafilter, ensure that you equal the coffee mound and evenly fill the portafilter leaving no gaps for water. Spread the coffee with your hand, settle the portafilter on a straight surface and tamp to set the coffee evenly.


Over To You, Home Coffee Machine…


Run the espresso maker by pouring hot water without the portafilter for a few minutes to purge the remaining coffee grounds from the previous shot. Once the ground head is clear, lock the portafilter onto the machine and press start. A water-to-coffee ratio of 2:1 is recommended for an excellent brew, and we advise a brewing time of 24 to 30 seconds to achieve the ratio. If the coffee machine pulls the shots way slower or faster, there is a high chance that the grind size needs to be corrected. So, keep trying until your machine pulls the shots at the right time.

If the shot is golden in colour and has a ¼ thickness, you have successfully made your first perfect espresso shot. You can make it even better by adding caramel-coloured crema or viscous liquid. If you like adding milk to your espresso, you can go with cow, almond, soy, and oat. Fill the pitcher to the point where the spout begins. Place the wand nozzle at a slight angle in the pitcher, and lower it as soon as the steamer starts. And there you have perfectly frothing milk for your espresso.


Wrapping up


Two success factors behind a perfect coffee shot are the beans you choose and the love you pour. The only way to achieve that perfect cup is by practising the technique until you get the correct measurement, grinding level, and timing.


Frequently Asked Home Coffee Machine Questions


If the coffee extraction is too fast


  1. Check that the filter basket is not under-dosed.
  2. Check that the grind is not too coarse.

If the coffee extraction is too slow


  1. Check that the filter basket is not overfull.
  2. Check that the grind is not too fine.
  3. Check that the shower foil is not blocked. It may need to be back-flushed or removed and cleaned.
  4. Check that the spout of the handle is not blocked. If it is dirty with rancid coffee oil, it should be soaked in a solution of espresso head cleaning shampoo and water.

If water is escaping from around the handle


  1. Check the head seals. If they have dried out, they will need to be replaced.
  2. Make sure to keep the group handles in place whenever the machine is not in use to protect the seals.

If the espresso is too cold


  1. Check that the cups are warm. You can heat your cups by pouring hot water into them and discarding it before starting the extraction.
  2. There may be too much water drawn from the group head. Let the machine rest and limit the amount of water drawn from it between extractions to keep the machine at temperature.

If the espresso tastes bitter


  1. Extraction may be too fast. Check that the grind is not too coarse and correct the dose.
  2. The machine may be dirty. Back-flush and clean the group head, group handles, and filter baskets.


If you’re interested in purchasing a home coffee machine in Australia, you can browse our selection online or visit our store in Adelaide. We’re located at 18 Croydon Rd, Keswick, SA 5035.

If you’re unsure if buying a coffee machine is a good investment, you can check out our blog post that addresses this question.

If you have any additional questions about our home coffee machines, feel free to contact us by phone at (08) 8297 5799 or by email at


About The Author

Picture of Anthony Maione
Anthony Maione

Anthony is a coffee machine sales and repairs specialist living in Adelaide, South Australia. He has spent the last 14 years staying at the forefront of the coffee machine industry. He has sold hundreds of home and office coffee machines throughout all of South Australia and has also repaired countless machines.

Occupation: General Manager, Coffee Complex
Lives in: Adelaide, South Australia

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