Making espresso in the comfort of your own home offers not only enjoyable moments but also provides a glimpse into the intracacies that unfold behind the scenes of your favourite cafe. Delighting in the creation of delectable coffee at home can be a truly fantastic experience. 

So how do I make killer espresso at home? When it comes down to it, most people start at a very basic level, even if they have a killer machine to help. The key to improvement lies in practice, taste and honest self-assessment. Surprisingly, the espresso itself and the nuances of its flavour often take the back seat in the entire process. While the focus tends to be on achieving silky milk and perfecting latte art (both crucial aspects), the actual coffee itself sometimes gets overshadowed. It's essential not to lose sight of the core element. So, here is a practical espresso brewing guide. Let's delve into the details that will elevate your espresso-making skills. 

Espresso Brew Guide

Great espresso should be complex, sweet, balanced and clean. But most of all, it should be easy to repeat!

Here’s a good starting point for a killer espresso:


Industry Standard Recipe
1:2 Coffee:Yield (espresso)

At our barista academy, we use:

  • 19-22g Pullman Basket
  • Dose (in): 22g of your favourite Five Senses espresso coffee
  • Yield (out): 44g of espresso
  • Time: 27-31sec

Hint: get to know your equipment. How much coffee, in grams, does your basket hold?

What you’ll need


    1. Get your equipment ready
    2. Heat up your espresso machine and run some water through the group head.
    3. Add fresh coffee to your grinder.
    4. Let’s grind. Turn your grinder on and purge some coffee through to get rid of any old coffee that may be trapped in your grinder chute.
    5. Dry wipe the inside of your portafilter with a tea towel to ensure no channelling occurs. Water will always follow the path of least resistance, so a wet basket will create channelling (which, of course, is no good).
    6. Weigh your dose. Hint: To standardise your espresso, stick to a common target dose every time. Weighing is important, so get yourself a set of scales to weigh in and weigh out. The ultimate weigh in / weigh out combo is a Baratza Sette 270Wi and Acaia Lunar scales.
    7. Distribute your coffee. We are looking to create a nice even surface, so the water can travel across ground coffee evenly. Hint: double check your grounds prior to tamping to ensure they’re sitting flat. If there are empty spots around the edges, push grinds into the holes using the stockfleth method of distribution ... or just freestyle it.
    8. Now lets compress that bed of coffee grinds. Using a tamp, press firmly and evenly on top of your grinds to create resistance and an even structure for water to pass through. Hint: bend your elbow at a 90* angle to ensure evenness of tamp and then add a moderate-to-generous amount of pressure.
    9. Flush through a few seconds of water which should collect the majority of the leftover coffee grinds from your previous coffee. If you have a heat exchange machine, flush water through immediately before your shot. Once it stops ‘hissing and spitting’ and runs steady, you’re at the right temperature to brew.
    10. Place your portafilter into the espresso machine to begin extraction.
    11. Let’s brew espresso! Place a cup on a set of scales below your portafilter spouts and get ready to time your extraction.
    12. Start your extraction and hit ‘Go’ on your timer. Water will passing through your coffee, making its way into your cup. Hint: The pour should initially start with a little bit of dripping before easing out into more of a steady stream.
    13. Watch your extraction. Hint: Espresso should be flowing through each spout evenly. We’re looking for a dark brown viscous espresso pour to begin with. That then tans out, becoming lighter in colour and in texture, until it eventually becomes almost blonde in appearance and watery in texture.
    14. Stop your extraction and timer. When your espresso is close to hitting the weight you were looking for, its time to hit the brakes! Hint: We typically stop the machine 3g before the target weight as the spout will hold around this amount of espresso ready to fall into your cup.
    15. Your tasty espresso is ready to enjoy. Sit back, relax and sip your deliciously brewed espresso.

Ready for round 2?

  • If that last cup was bangin’, use the extraction speed on you timer as a reference and look to hit this number each time for that same delicious cup.
  • If that last cup was a little out of the 27-31sec ball park; change you grind – a bit finer to produce a slower pour, or courser to produce a faster pour.
  • Empty your portafilter and clean the inside of your basket.
  • Purge water through your group head. Now you’re ready for step 1.

If you would like to become a brew guru, we offer a Home Barista course that puts these steps into practice!  

Looking for a custom set up to match your kitchen? Check out our partner, Specht Design.

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