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How to make great coffee in an espresso machine

As the love and appreciation of good coffee grows, so too does the popularity of home espresso machines. It’s time to unleash your inner barista and learn how to make an incredible cup of coffee at home using your machine. 

Espresso machines have become a staple in many households across Australia, especially with more people working from home. 

While Kmart or Aldi might sell espresso machines for under $100, most machines from reputable brands like Breville start at $500

This article is designed to be a general guide for all espresso machines, so no matter what you're brewing with, this information will be helpful. 

Espresso machines work by forcing hot, pressurised water through ground coffee and a filter to deliver the thick, concentrated coffee that we call espresso. 

Once you make a great coffee in an espresso machine you will be hooked! Espresso coffee is full-flavoured and is topped with a rich and golden crema. 

Follow the below tips to learn how to make amazing coffee in an espresso machine. 

Equipment

  • Espresso machine. Our recommendation for starting out with a home espresso machine is the Breville Bambino Plus

    The Bambino Plus is a small but mighty espresso machine with an automatic steam wand for milk texturising. It has a 3 second heat up time from a cold start, along with instantaneous transition from extraction to steam, so you can make a coffee even faster. 

  • Freshly ground coffee. (4.7 grind rating). We recommend our Private Blend and Espresso Blend for espresso coffee. Learn more about the different grind ratings here

    Or try our new Sample Pack which contains 4 x 250g of our favourite coffees.

    If you don't have a grinder at home, we can grind your coffee to this rating instore or online.

  • Measuring spoon. 

  • Tamp. If your coffee machine didn't come with a tamp, we recommend the Rhino Coffee Tamper. 

Step 1

Fill the water tank with fresh filtered water before you turn the espresso machine on. Filtered water will stop scale build-up in the espresso machine and improves the overall quality. If you don't have filtered water normal tap water is fine. 

Step 2

When you turn your espresso machine on, flush water out of the group head through the handle.

Step 3

Pre-flush and purge the steam wand.

Step 4

Fill the filter basket with freshly ground coffee to the top, then tamp lightly with a slight twist to ensure coffee is level.

Step 5

Lock the group handle into place (right angle) and start the water immediately.

Step 6

Position the cup (s) into place under the spout.

Step 7

Your coffee should pour out of the handle like warm honey.

Note: If it is pouring out quickly it is considered to be under extracted and will taste sour. To fix this, have your coffee ground finer.

Under extraction video guide:

Alternatively, if coffee is pouring out slowly or is dripping through this is considered over extraction and it will taste bitter and burnt. To remedy this, have your coffee ground more coarsely.

Over extraction video guide:

The result of a perfect extraction should be a rich chocolate-coloured shot with a consistent, golden layer of crema.

Ideal extraction video guide:

Step 8

Once your coffee has extracted, it's now time to add milk if you desire. For tips and hints on perfecting the art of milk frothing, click here.

Tips 

  • Almost all espresso machine brands have model-specific tutorial videos available online. Have a look on YouTube or the brand's website to find them. 
  • We recommend buying whole beans and only grinding beans right before use. This will ensure the coffee you are using is fresh. If your machine doesn't come with a grinder, have a look at some of the automatic and manual options available here
  • If you are looking to take your espresso skills to the next level, join one of our espresso education coursesIn this class you will learn the foundations of espresso coffee making – grinder and machine knowledge, how to dose, tamp and extract coffee. You will also learn how to texturise milk and pour the classic cafe menu: flat white, latte, mocha and cappuccino. 

Remember, when making coffee at home:

  • To keep coffee hotter for longer, fill cups with hot water for a minute before making your coffee. Pour out this hot water before filling the cup with coffee. 
  • Fresh is best when it comes to coffee – we recommend buying your coffee in smaller quantities, more frequently. Whole beans tend to go stale after about six weeks and this process is quicker for ground coffee. 
  • We custom-grind for all brewing methods – just tell our staff how you make your coffee at home, or select your brewing method when you order online
  • Use filtered water where possible.
  • A Merlo subscription is an easy way to make sure you never run out of coffee again. Save time and receive bonus beans with every 6th order, plus easily cancel, update and manage your subscription at any time.