How to use your new espresso machine: tips and tricks for smooth coffee making

You may be in the market for a new espresso machine, or you may just have bought your first espresso machine. But now you need some experience when it comes to making the perfect cup of coffee.

So how do you go about making that perfect cup? Where do you start when you have never pulled a shot of espresso before? We are here to help.

Some of the most important things to remember is that there are various ways to prepare coffee. But all you want to do, is be sure that your machine will last as long as you take care of it.

The second thing is that you want a good cup of coffee every time.

A new espresso machine can be a bit daunting for the first time user. It has quite a few settings, dials and knobs. Knowing which to use can be a bit of a process.

But once you know the different parts, it will be easy to identify the same basic things on all machines. There is usually a pattern that all good espresso machines follow and we will go through the basics.

The Basics: the where and what

Most espresso machines will have the same basic parts, just in different configurations or designs. These parts include, a porta-filter, a group-head, a steam wand, a hot water spigot and a few different shot buttons.

Some machines also have warming racks and dials to show you what is hot and what is not. Each of these range of elements have a different function.

The porta-filter is something you will notice on almost any espresso machine. It has a handle, brew basket and spigot. This is where you will put your coffee grounds at the start of the process.

The group-head is where the porta-filter connects. This is where the actual brewing happens.

The steam wand does what it says. It spews out steam and usually has a handle where it can be controlled. Larger machines (like the ones used in coffee shops and cafes) will have more than one of these.

The hot water spigot can also be used for tea or when you make an Americano.

You use the shot buttons to send water through the porta-filter. The buttons will usually tell you what the result will be depending on how strong you want the coffee.

This means if you want a double shot espresso versus a single shot. Commercial machines usually have warming racks for the mugs and will have more sophisticated pressure and temperature dials and gauges. Most home machines will be more basic.

How to make the coffee

Now that you know all the parts, you just need to follow the steps to make a cup of coffee. You will use the porta-filter to determine your shot size.

Will it be single or double? The porta-filter has a spigot, handle and brew-basket and the configuration of it will have an influence on the strength of the brewed coffee.

The brew-basket holds the coffee grounds and you need to check the size here for the shot, say a double. This setup is up to you, but an easy start is to use the largest setup for the strongest largest shot.

Then you can work your way back to the taste you like, by using smaller brew-basket sizes.

Step by step for an espresso

First put the porta-filter in the grinder and select the setting you want. Some have more than one setting like double or triple.

Check the brew-basket for the correct size. Then use the tamper, or any suitable tool to press the coffee grounds down tightly. It should be smooth without dips or cracks. Wipe the edges clean.

Now take the porta-filter and place it in the group-head. It has a twist and turn motion so practice before putting the coffee in.

Once the porta-filter is connected to the group-head, press the button for the type of shot you want.You can also choose free pour if you want to control the amount of water yourself.

Once the water has run through, remove the porta-filter and dump out the used grounds. Rinse the porta-filter.

You can now enjoy your shot of espresso. Or if you prefer, you can use the milk frother and steamer to prepare the milk for a cappuccino or latte.

Don’t steam milk twice, rather measure itcarefully. Before you use the steam wand, quickly purge it to make sure that it is clean. Then add a little milk to the jug or pitcher.

Remember the milk will expand as it heats. This can take some practice but with time you will find what works for you. The key thing is that you want to create a vortex in the milk and heat it to your desired temperature.

Next, clean the steam wand. You do not want old milk stuck to it.

Last, Pour your coffee and milk in the way you like it and enjoy! We hope these steps will make using your espresso machine a joy.