Crafting The Perfect Coffee


Here’s how you can craft great espresso with Robert Harris.  We’re dedicated to crafting great coffee and we want you to have the skills to finish what we’ve started.

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 tasty reward for fresh, properly roasted coffee, extracted well.

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.

What You Need

1. Robert Harris Whole Beans Or Espresso Grind Fresh Coffee

2. Espresso Machine

3. Portafilter

4. Grinder

5. Tamp

6. Thermometer

Explore Our Products

1. Check your espresso machine is up to temperature.

2. Pass some hot water through the portafilter, then wipe it with a clean towel – it should be hot, clean & dry.

3. Place the portafilter under the grinder and over-fill the basket with ground coffee.

4. Level off the coffee with a light sweep of the finger – this is called distribution.

5. Carefully rest the portafilter on the edge of the bench or on a tea towel for tamping.

6. Hold the tamp so that the base of the handle fits into the palm of your hand.

7. Press gently on the coffee evenly with the tamp.

8. Your wrist should be straight, with your arm held straight above the portafilter at a 90-degree angle.

9. Now twist the tamp approximately 360 degrees to polish the top of the coffee cake, leaving a smooth flat surface.

TIP: Tamping compacts the loose coffee grounds into a solid cake ready for extraction. Water is lazy and will always seek out the path where it has the least resistance. If you tamp evenly, you'll get an even extraction and a better tasting espresso.

10. Finally, wipe any excess coffee grinds off the portafilter rim to ensure no coffee gets into the group head and prevents a good seal.

11. Now you're ready to extract your espresso shot!

12. Run another shot of hot water to clean, then twist your portafilter into the group head.

13. The espresso coffee should pour in a slow, syrupy stream.

TIP:If the coffee is under extracted the water will pour through the coffee very quickly, full flavour won’t be extracted.  The crema will be light and thin, and the coffee will taste sour and acidic.  This may be caused by the grind being too coarse or that the portafilter is underfilled.

If the coffee is over extracted it will drip very slowly, the coffee will be dark and taste smoky and bitter.  The grind may be too fine or the portafilter may be overfilled.

We use a brew ratio of 1:2; for every gram of dry coffee there is two grams of espresso – If you want to perfect your pour, weigh the first few times; both dry & wet.

14. The Crema, the foam that forms on top of the espresso, should have a creamy texture and a reddish-brown colour.

15. If your 'shot' pour is manual, stop the pour when the colour turns from brown to blond, usually around 25-30 seconds.

16. The taste -should be full bodied, rich with a balanced amount of sweetness, acidity and pleasant bitterness.


Coffee stales with exposure to light, humidity, heat and oxygen.  Keep any opened bags of coffee in an airtight container and use quickly. Only grind as much coffee as you need.

If you can, use filtered water as it’s better for the internal working of your espresso machine.

Regularly clean your espresso machine – a dirty machine will always produce bitter coffee.

Check your machine manual for the ideal dry coffee quantity for your machine.  Weigh your coffee the first few times, so you can become familiar with the right amount.


Oxygen, moisture, heat and light are the enemies of fresh coffee. Exposure to these elements will cause your coffee to taint or become stale. Always store your coffee in an airtight container in a cool, dark place - but not in your fridge or freezer.

If you grind your own beans, only grind what you need to make a coffee. Ground coffee that isn't stored properly will go stale.

The function of the one-way Aroma Fresh Valve™ on the packs is to let carbon dioxide out and prevent oxygen from entering the pack. When whole coffee beans are roasted carbon dioxide is released. This continues to be released from the beans for 48 hours after roasting.

To enable the freshly roasted beans to be packed as soon as possible after roasting without the packet swelling and bursting, a valve is utilised to retain aroma and to ensure optimum freshness.

Grind choice is extremely important. Using a plunger grind in an espresso machine will mean you have a watery and weak coffee. If you use an espresso grind in a plunger you will find it hard to plunge and it is likely you will end up with grits and grinds in your coffee cup.

Espresso ground coffee is extremely fine and is designed to have the water passed through under pressure in a matter of 20-30 seconds. A plunger grind is coarse and designed to brew for 4 minutes. The coarse grind also means that when you plunge the coffee the water can freely pass through the coffee.

A Flat White is a single shot of coffee topped with velvety milk creating a 5-8mm cap. 

A Caffe Latte is a double shot of coffee (or single shot) topped with velvety milk creating a 6-10mm cap.  Traditionally served in a glass.

It is recommended to use water that is just off the boil.  This means either 30-60 seconds after it has boiled, or turn the jug off just before it has boiled.  Boiling water can burn the beans.

The beauty of these plunger bags is they will suit any occasion. Each plunger bag makes two cups, and multiple bags can be placed in the plunger.

So if you have a 6 cup plunger, place 3 x plunger bags in the plunger and add 4 ½ - 6 cups of water depending on strength preference and cup size.

We recommend placing no more than 3 bags per plunger.