Espresso Brew Guide
Espresso Brew Guide
Espresso Brew Guide
Espresso Brew Guide

Espresso Brew Guide

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Espresso's strength allows for unlimited creation of coffee beverages.

Featuring high strength, short brewing times, and quick brew-to-brew turnaround, espresso is an engaging choice for many home baristas. Explore coffees here and Brew Gear for more.

Recommended Brewing Parameters

Brew Volume: 1 - 3 fl oz

Coffee Brewing Ratio (Grounds:Poured Water): 1:3 - 1:1

Grind: Very fine (almost powdered sugar-like)

Brewing Time: 25 - 30 seconds

Brewing Temperature: Set Point at 199-201℉ 


1. Think about how much espresso you want (1 - 3 fl oz). The ideal ratio correlates most specifically to a given coffee's roast level. We suggest an espresso volume around 2 fl oz for the medium roasts you enjoy from Little Waves.

2. Figure out how much ground coffee your portafilter basket holds by overfilling the basket without knocking it around, then leveling off using three even movements with a straight-edged tool such as a brush handle. Most baskets hold between 14 - 21g. Multiply your Ground Coffee Dose (in grams) by 1 for a stronger cup (1:1), 2 for a cup of normal strength (1:2) and 3 (1:3) for a weaker cup (or anywhere in-between the two Coffee Brewing Ratios) to figure out how much espresso beverage weight you should extract. Our ideal CBR hovers around 1:2 (ex. 18g dose x 2 = 36g beverage weight or 18g : 36g when expressed as a ratio). Grind this amount of fresh, wholebean coffee very finely (just a little coarser than the size of powdered sugar). 

3. Once you've established your preferred dose (ex. 18g), there are many different ways you can transfer the grounds from the grinder into the basket - directly or otherwise. Whichever method you prefer, find a consistent way that promotes even distribution of water through the ground coffee.

4. Tamp by holding the tamper like a flashlight (your wrist should be straight in line with the tamper handle). Bend your elbow to a 90º angle as if your shoulder, elbow, and tamper are a construction crane! The bottom of your tamper will be parallel with the counter and just over the portafiler, which is being held on the counter by its handle with your other hand. Engage the level tamper into the portafilter basket by leaning in with 30-pounds of pressure from your body weight while maintaining the crane form. One flat tamp from a well-fitted tamper will do the job. Gently polish (spin) the tamper in the basket before removal to ensure a smooth puck surface.

5. Clean the spouts and wings before locking the portafilter into the grouphead. Immediately start your shot and timer simultaneously, then slide your tared scale and cup underneath. We want to achieve our desired beverage weight in 25 - 30 seconds. If the timing is off, either incrementally coarsen the grind (to achieve shorter times) or fine up (to achieve longer timers). If your hopper is filled with coffee when you make a grind adjustment, you'll have to purge some grounds (2 - 5 shots depending on the grinder) before seeing the new grind. Interestingly, if your brew time is too short, the resulting crema (the oil, gas, and coffee particles that make up the "foam" on the espresso's surface) looks like a dull, monochromatic tan color. If the brew time is within the correct window, the crema is caramel brown with light to medium brown spots (flecks). If the brew time is too long, then the crema usually shows distinctly white spots.

9. Smell and once it cools to your liking, stir and taste the espresso. Little Waves coffees should exhibit a nice sweetness (like honey, caramel, ripe fruit), a moderately intense aroma, and medium-full body with a balanced mouthfeel. 

10. If the coffee tastes overly bitter and weak, consider reducing the beverage weight by a gram or two on the next shot. If the espresso tastes overly sour and full, consider increasing the beverage weight by a gram or two.

11. Most importantly, enjoy your freshly brewed coffee!