Back to the Basics: Quick Tips on your Espresso Machine – My Espresso Shop Back to the Basics: Quick Tips on your Espresso Machine - My Espresso Shop

Back to the Basics: Quick Tips on using your Espresso Machine

by Cameron Clark December 29, 2016

Back to the Basics: Quick Tips on using your Espresso Machine

Often times, espresso lovers get so caught up in the silly details: "Is my burr going dull?" "Is the portafilter not grabbing correctly?" "Does this espresso taste different because it was ground twenty minutes ago instead of five minutes ago?" At My Espresso Shop, we've heard it all, and more often than not, the issues many of our fellow home baristas face are just a result of skipping over the basics of espresso making. That's why we decided it was time to go back to the drawing board and come up with a basic plan for our followers. We hope you enjoy!

MUST READ: How to Make Espresso at Home

Espresso Making: 101

Here are the basic espresso-making steps the team at My Espresso Shop was able to agree on (mostly): 

1) First and foremost: Water Quality. It’s important to note that the taste of your espresso greatly depends on the quality of your water. If not dealt with beforehand, scale and other unwanted minerals can be a death wish not only for your cup of coffee, but also for your equipment. If you think you are having water quality issues, you should be able to find an inexpensive water kit at your local hardware store to run any tests. Keep in mind, your water source could also be the culprit of any funny business in your water. But if you think it might just be a minor issue, an every-day carbon water filter should do the job.

  • Pro Tip: It is not advisable to use bottled spring water. The high mineral content it contains can cause scaling, which can damage your equipment if untreated. Filtered water is your best (and safest) option.

2) Put the coffee basket into the filter holder and gently pack in your freshly ground coffee. Most filters will tell you how much coffee to add for your desired number of servings, so we recommend sticking with that (unless you’re feeling adventurous!)

3) Clear away any scattered coffee grounds around your portafilter and insert the filter into your espresso machine

4) This is one that even the most seasoned baristas mess up: Make sure to securely position your espresso cup directly beneath the spout! Once you turn on your machine, the water will quickly heat up and build enough pressure to push through the coffee in the filter.

5) Foam will most likely float atop your coffee. And when it starts to turn white, you should remove the cup.

  • Pro Tip: The ideal cup of espresso has a brown-ish foam – or “crema” – on top of the coffee. Once it begins turning white, that is your indication that the best tasting liquid has already been extracted! (See “crema” in the photo below)


Hopefully some of these steps will help guide you in your espresso-making endeavors! Make sure you get the best coffee maker for your needs, and then follow these tips closely. You'll be pulling great shots in no time! 

For more information or advice, you can always feel free to contact us at


Cameron Clark
Cameron Clark


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