Are espresso machines hard to use?
Some people seem to think so but really they’re not that bad! In this post we’ll walk you through the basics of using an espresso machine and show you how easy it is to make a delicious cup of espresso.
So what are you waiting for?
Let’s get started!
So Are Espresso Machines Hard To Use?
The answer is no—unless you let them be.
All it takes to make a great cup of espresso with your home espresso machine is the right information the right equipment and the willingness to practice.
Once you have these three things down making your own perfect homemade espresso will seem effortless.
And there’s nothing wrong with buying pre-ground coffee beans that are already roasted for use in an espresso maker or purchased ready-to-brew in cups.
That’s what many people do when they’re in a hurry or don’t want to bother—and it’s just fine if all you need is a quick caffeine boost at home (or while working away from home).
But if you really like good coffee why not try grinding your own beans to use in your espresso machine?
It’s not hard it only takes a minute and the taste difference is incredible.
How to Use an Espresso Machine?
First you have to buy a machine.
There are tons of different models and makes on the market today but here’s the thing: unless you’re willing to spend over $1000 for an expensive model that does everything but make your toast then it’s probably not worth investing in one that has lots of bells and whistles like pre-programmable buttons or adjustable steam volume.
For our purposes we’ll assume you want to buy a simple espresso maker.
After buying your machine (we recommend Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine ) the first step is to grind your beans.
This should be done immediately before making your coffee because once the beans are ground they start to lose their flavor.
If you have a blade grinder just put some beans in and pulse them until they’re ground up nicely.
If you have a burr grinder then use it according to its instructions.
For the espresso machine that we recommend above your bean hopper will hold about 7 tablespoons of coffee grinds so fill it up with a little less than half a cup of beans.
Then turn on your grinder and watch carefully as it briefly flings the beans against the blades inside of the machine.
Once you see fine coffee dust emerging from the top of your machine turn off or unplug your grinder immediately.
You don’t want to let the beans get too finely ground because that will make it harder to extract the oils that give your coffee its distinctive flavor.
Keep in mind that while grinding your own beans at home is by far the best way to go if you want good espresso you might also want to try pre-ground beans (whole or already grounded) especially if you’re not quite ready for an investment like this.
When buying pre-ground beans look for words like “Fine” or “Extra Fine”.
If you can buy them whole and grind them yourself even better since they’ll last longer.
However one downside is that freshly ground beans are much more difficult to transport than their pre-ground counterparts so consider how often you plan on using your machine and how far you want to walk with a full grinder.
We recommend grinding enough coffee for one week at a time keeping it in an air-tight container in the fridge so that it stays fresh longer.
No matter what type of beans you buy make sure they are 100% Arabica.
As we discussed here pure Arabica beans are the only ones used to make high-quality espresso because they have essential oils throughout their entire structure.
Lower quality blends or Robusta beans tend not to taste very good when brewed this way but can be used if necessary.
The next step is to fill your water reservoir.
Make sure you don’t overfill it—that will just make it take longer to heat up—and make sure you clean it regularly (read our article on how to clean an espresso machine here ).
After that the water needs to be drawn through your grounds.
For this you will need a metal filter basket.
You can choose either one that is attached directly to your machine’s portafilter or one that sits inside of your machine’s drip tray.
Fill the basket with ground coffee and tamp it down very lightly by applying pressure with your fingertips (don’t use too much force).
Just be careful not to press down too hard or else your coffee might taste bitter.
You don’t want it pressed tight enough so that when you turn on your machine the brew pushes back against the tamped-down coffee as it draws water through the grounds.
A good recipe for getting the right amount of tamping down is about 30 pounds of pressure for an eight-ounce cup.
Just remember to always use a light hand.
If you want to be able to adjust your machine so that you can choose between several different brewing pressures then a metal filter basket may not be for you.
Once you have used your machine a few times though you will probably find that one particular setting works best with it and saves you time from having to keep adjusting it every time.
And voila! You’re now ready to take your espresso out into the world and enjoy life just a little bit more than before—without ever having to leave home.
Don’t Forget To Clean Your Machine Regularly
We have an article on how to clean an espresso machine too.
For the best tasting coffee possible you should clean your machine regularly.