A well-pulled shot of espresso can be seen as the ultimate
achievement of all those who have been involved in its production:
from the coffee grower, through to the taster to the roast master
and finally, the barista.
Tamping packs the ground coffee evenly and firmly into the
basket. Well-tamped coffee should have a smooth, flat surface so
water passes evenly through the grinds, extracting as much flavour
To achieve your perfect cake of coffee for extraction follow
these simple steps:
- Over-fill the basket with ground coffee then level off with a
light sweep of the finger.
- Carefully rest the portafilter on the edge of the bench or on a
tea towel for tamping.
- Hold the tamp so that the base of the handle fits into the palm
of your hand.
- Press gently on the coffee evenly with the tamp.
- Your wrist should be straight, with your arm held straight
above the portafilter at a 90-degree angle.
- Now twist the tamp approximately 360 degrees to polish off the
top of the coffee cake, leaving a smooth surface.
- Finally, wipe any excess coffee grinds off the portafilter rim
to ensure no coffee gets into the group head and prevents a good
Now you are ready to extract your perfect espresso shot.
Producing the perfect espresso is a high pressured
An 'espresso' is basically 25-30mls of hot water, forced under
high pressure through 9-12 grams of very finely ground coffee, over
a period of approximately 20-30 seconds. Such a small amount of
water being forced through such a large amount of coffee results in
an intense 'liqueur' of coffee.
The signature of a good espresso shot is the 'crema' the creamy
reddish-brown texture that forms on the surface. It is the
delicious reward for fresh, properly roasted coffee, extracted
correctly. If you're preparing espresso at home, make sure the
coffee you use is ground ultra fine. If the coffee is too coarse,
the espresso will be watery and bitter.
Fill the handle generously and tamp the coffee firmly.
Compacting the coffee means the water forces its way through more
slowly, extracting the maximum flavour, becoming thick and syrupy
with a delicate mottling of crema building on the surface.