How to Make the Perfect Shot of Espresso

Espresso – a full-bodied, concentrated shot of coffee that forms the foundation of every caffeinated drink. It is so important to perfect that single shot.

Brewing a barista-quality shot of espresso isn’t as complicated as you think. With the right knowledge and equipment, you can pull a flawless shot at home every time.

The Bean

coffee beans being roasted in a machine
Only use fresh ground beans for brewing to prevent a flat-tasting espresso that lacks aroma and flavour. Photo from Battlecreek Coffee Roasters.

Fresher beans produce a better shot of espresso. Almost immediately after a coffee bean is roasted, it starts to lose its freshness. The lifespan of a roasted bean is approximately 4 to 5 weeks so make sure to check its roasting date before purchasing a bag.

From grinding to storage, here’s everything you need to know about the bean.

Always store your beans in a cool and dry place away from sunlight. If possible, only grind the beans just before brewing so that each shot is as fresh as it gets.

Grind Size

a coffee grinding machine placed on a table
A good grinder is key to getting a consistent grind while preserving the full aroma of your beans. Featuring the Dedica Conical Burr Grinder. Photo from De’Longhi.

If coffee beans aren’t ground to the right size for your coffee maker, you will always be struggling with a subpar shot of espresso.

Find out what grind size is best for your coffee maker in this complete guide.

Manual gadgets such as the French Press or Chemex require a coarser grind to keep the extraction slow and avoid over-extraction. On the other hand, we want a fine grind for espresso machines and the Moka Pot as the extraction time is much faster.

Here’s a guide to the various types of coffee grinders and why you need one.

Tamp Evenly and Consistently

a coffee tamper from De'Longhi
Using a quality coffee tamper will ensure consistent extraction and a quality brew. Photo from De’Longhi.

If you are using a coffee machine that requires tampering, use a calibrated coffee tamper. This assists you in applying the right pressure for packing the grounds evenly into the filter-basket, giving you a consistent extraction.

Always ensure the tamper is clean and dry before and after each use. Moisture and leftover grounds will make the next espresso shot over-extracted and bitter-tasting.

Shop for the De’Longhi Coffee Tamper here.

Water Quality

Many of us tend to use tap water for our coffee. But in most regions of the world, the mineral content and pH level of tap water have a detrimental effect on not just the brew, but also the equipment used.

As pH level increases, so does the amount of flavour extracted. The best water pH level for brewing is between 6.5 to 7.5. One way to do this at home is through a household filtration system or getting distilled water from the supermarket.

How important is water in coffee making? Read here to find out.

A Clean Brewing Equipment

coffee machine descaling solution
Use a descaling solution made from natural ingredients to extend the lifespan of your coffee maker. Featuring the De’Longhi EcoDecalk Mini. Photo from De’Longhi.

Mineral impurities, hard-water deposits, and the oily residue from your previous brew will accumulate with each use. Since this buildup is often hidden in the nooks and crannies of our brewing equipment, we often overlook the importance of cleaning them religiously.

The result of not cleaning regularly? A pesky buildup of limescale that causes stale-tasting espresso and lasting damage to your home brewing equipment.

Regardless it’s a Moka pot, French press, or bean to cup coffee machine, we recommend descaling them at least once a month to ensure a perfect shot of espresso every time.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to descale a coffee machine.

Regardless it’s a Moka pot, French press, or bean to cup coffee machine, we recommend descaling them at least once a month to ensure a perfect shot of espresso every time.

Let the Machine Do the Work

pressing a button on a coffee machine
Create and customise all your recipes and enjoy the perfect espresso, cappuccino or latte macchiato in the comfort of your own home. Featuring the De’Longhi Prima Donna Elite Experience. Photo from De’Longhi.

A perfect shot of espresso is all about perfecting the elements and techniques, which can require time to master. So why not let a coffee machine perfect that shot for you?

Bean to cup coffee machines like the De’Longhi Prima Donna Elite Experience and Dinamica Plus have been designed and calibrated with state of the art technologies.

With the freedom to customise creations, the smart machine becomes your own professional barista at home – always ensuring your beverage is made to perfection.

Sounds enticing? Discover why the Prima Donna Elite is worth every penny.