how to use the espresso machine – basics and tips

Keep the filter holder warm and clean, use only freshly ground coffee and do not reuse milk. These are just three of the basic tricks you should know if you want to make a good espresso every time.

Few cafes and bars can be proud of a diverse offer without having an espresso machine. From the purchase to the correct use of the device is a long way, especially for those who have no experience in the field. Are you thinking of hiring as a bartender in such a place or do you even have an espresso machine in your house and you don't know exactly how to approach it? Here are some important notions that can help you become familiar with this device.


Basic components

Depending on the complexity of the model you are working with, the espresso machine can provide you with several useful tools. First of all, it includes a water tank and a compartment for coffee beans or pre-ground coffee. If it is equipped with a grinder, the design will also provide you with a handle or control panel to determine the degree of grinding, where you will usually find the buttons that manage the amount of water, pressure and temperature for infusion.

The main accessory you will work with is the filter holder, in the shape of a large, round spoon, with a handle, in which you will place and compact the ground coffee. The filter holder is then attached to the dispenser to allow infusion. Some models include pressurized air rod for milk foaming. If you have a simpler version you will need to buy a separate foamer.


Keep the filter holder warm

To ensure a correct infusion, it is good to keep the filter holder connected to the dispenser between two servings, so that it stays warm. Before each brewing round, make sure to clean the filter holder very well and to remove all the coffee residues from the previous serving.

how to use the espresso machine – basics and tips

Infuse freshly ground coffee

If the espresso machine you are working with has an integrated grinder, this is the time to turn it on to fill the filter holder with the required amount of coffee. Take care of the degree of crushing and learn to adapt it depending on the type of coffee you work with. The lighter varieties are finer to grind, because they infuse more slowly, while the darker varieties can be ground a little coarser, to avoid too bitter a taste.

The absence of the integrated grinder can be solved by purchasing a separate device that fulfills this function, or by identifying a supplier who can ensure the daily supply of fresh coffee.


Uniformize correctly in the filter holder

Once the filter holder is filled with the required amount of coffee, the next step is to make it uniform, which is done by circular movements or by lightly hitting the side walls. It is important that the coffee layer is not crossed by air gaps and that the surface is straight.

Compact the particles with force, to eliminate the air between them, until you notice that as a result of your efforts, the level of coffee in the filter holder does not decrease.


Remove some water from the dispenser

If you prepare espresso a little less often, the water that stagnates on the last segment of the dispenser will cool down and will affect the intensity of the infused liquid. To avoid this effect, you need to remove a little water in a glass before fixing the espresso filter holder.


Secure the filter holder

Fixing the filter holder is probably the most difficult step, until you get used to it, because it requires a little skill and some exercise to catch the movement exactly. In general, it starts by orienting the filter holder parallel to the espresso machine, with the handle to the left.

how to use the espresso machine – basics and tips

When the filter holder has entered the distributor's head, turn the handle to the right until it is tight enough to prevent movement.

Always check carefully if it is well fixed, because otherwise the hot liquid will flow around and you will waste whole minutes to clean the appliance and probably your clothes.


Set the espresso machine correctly

If you plan to start working in a cafe, most likely the espresso machine will already have the temperature and pressure set, and you will not have to intervene. For those who are tempted to choose from DeLonghi , Russel-Hobbs, Krups, Bosch, Philips etc. espresso models. for home, we will mention that the ideal interval for preparation is 90.5 – 96 o C.

You will manage the pressure depending on the taste obtained and the extent to which you will consider that the drink is too intense or too weak.

Regarding the amount of liquid infused, most models will offer you the simple, double and triple espresso version, but also a button that allows you to stop the process when the desired amount has flowed into the cup. As a guide, as a working time, a small espresso is obtained in 15-20 seconds, the double one lasts from 20-25 seconds, and for a triple espresso you will have to wait between 25 and 30 seconds.


Quickly clean the filter holder

The filter holder is provided with a metal grill that can oxidize quite quickly if you do not carefully and promptly clean the coffee residues left after the infusion. So shake the container well and then rinse it under running water from the sink. Don't forget to reassemble the distributor to keep it warm.

how to use the espresso machine – basics and tips

Foam the milk once

This rule refers to avoiding situations in which you reuse milk because you put too much in the foaming container and it remains unused. Ideally, you should be interested in learning how much you need for each of the espresso options you prepare. Milk exposed several times to this process or to too high a temperature, changes its taste, moving a little to that of burnt milk.

As in the case of coffee infusion, it is good to remove the water from the foaming tube, until you get steam, because what is already left is cold and doesn't help much. It is not necessary to turn the cup around the skimmer or vice versa, depending on the device used, as long as a vortex is formed in the milk.

Keep the cup slightly tilted and the frother slightly below the surface of the milk, lowering it as the foam forms and you will get the perfect consistency.



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