Espresso is not only a drink on its own, but it is also a base for numerous popular coffee drinks such as cappuccino. Espresso is a strong and highly-concentrated coffee that can be made either with an espresso machine or a stove top espresso maker. When properly brewed, the espresso will have a heavy body along with a thick, golden-brown crema (foam) on the surface and if you add sugar, it will float on the surface for a couple of seconds before slowly sinking. A single shot of espresso is approximately 1 to 1 ½ ounces of coffee. 

Making espresso is a bit of an art form. The taste will vary based on the coffee beans used, the quality of the grind, the amount of coffee used, the tamping (packing of the coffee), and the amount of time taken for the coffee to pour. When brewing your own espresso, don’t hesitate to experiment to adjust to your preferences.

Select a coffee bean and make sure that it has a fine grind for an espresso machine or stove top espresso maker. Coarse coffee will allow the water to go through the coffee too fast and will not extract the nectar from the coffee. If the coffee is ground too fine the water will not be able to travel through the grounds properly. You can buy pre-ground coffee to get an idea of what is correct if you are unsure.

After filling the basket with coffee, you will want to tamp down the coffee correctly. This is another one of those steps that a little experimentation is needed. If the coffee is tamped too hard water will not flow through. If it is not tamped hard enough the water will run through the grounds too quickly. Every machine is a little different and you should experiment. In general, two one-ounce shot glasses should take roughly between 12 to 18 seconds to fill. If it takes longer, you should tamp less hard next time.

Equipment you will need



  • 1 ½ Tbsp. Espresso Coffee
  • Cold water 




  1. Select a coffee with a fine grind appropriate for espresso. Check the manufactures recommended grind. Steam-driven and pump-driven machines typically require different grinds.
  2. Fill the basket of the espresso machine until it is full. Tamp the coffee down and make sure there are no grinds on the outside lip to allow a good seal onto the espresso machine.
  3. Make sure there is clean cold water in the machine.
  4. Run the machine according to instructions to “pull” the espresso. Once the amount of espresso needed has poured, stop the brewing process on the machine and pull the cup to not get more coffee into the cup which will change the flavor of the coffee.

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Related terminology:

  • Short Black - another term for espresso common in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Solo Espresso – a single shot of espresso.
  • Doppio - a double shot of espresso.
  • Ristretto -using the same amount of coffee grounds, water is only poured to produce the first half of an espresso shot.
  • Split Shot - half decaf, half caffeinated


  • In order to help keep the coffee warm, preheat your cups by filling it with warm or boiling water prior to making the coffee. Then, once your coffee is ready to be pulled, throw out the water.