Roasterie Coffee 101: How Do You Pull the Perfect Shot of Espresso?

You have probably been there before, standing in line at one of the Roasterie cafes watching one of our amazing baristas tapping and grinding away behind the counter. Amidst the chaotic symphony you think yourself, “I want to do that! How hard could it be?”. The fantastic news is that we offer an opportunity for any amateur barista to learn how from the very best, our very own Professor Bean Simeon Bricker.

We recently hosted a crash course in espresso at The Bean Hangar as a part of our coffee 101 event series. Coffee 101 is modeled after the same coffee college that all Roasterie café baristas graduate after. It was a packed house so if you weren’t able to make it here’s a condensed shot of what you missed.

4 Primary Things You Need To Pull The Perfect Shot Of Espresso.

  1. The Right Coffeebag of coffee
    Espresso blends normally comprised of three different beans each chosen for a specific strength. One for body, one for sweetness, and one for balance, a fine example of this is our signature Super Tuscan Blend. However, if you’re feeling adventurous a single origin blend works just as well.
    During this class, we did just that.
    Simeon used his competition blend, our Kenya AA. He favors it because “it develops brightly and finishes almost like a starburst”.
  2. A High Quality Grinder
    A good grinder is something we can’t stress enough and for a couple of reasons. Even particle distribution is essential, coffee needs to be super fine and equal in size (it should feel soft and smooth in your hands). The finer it is the more surface area it has, this equals better extraction and a higher number of TDS (total dissolved solids). Additionally a fresh grind equals a release of essential CO2. Once coffee is ground, it starts to lose its freshness and produces CO2. The espresso making process utilizes this CO2. So grind fresh.
  3. espresso machine Machine
    If you’re in the market for a machine that gets the job done no questions asked, we recommend the GS/3. If you’re not ready for the big leagues just yet then look for a machine that consistently boils water to 200 degrees, has enough bars to produce an ample amount of pressure, and is quite sturdy.
  4. Skilled Hands
    You can have ideal versions of the first three, but if you’re hands aren’t trained to know how things are supposed to feel, they won’t do you any good. Pulling a perfect espresso takes requires a certain level of feel, similar to that of an experienced artisan. It can take some of The Roasterie’s café baristas anywhere from 6-8 months of training to get a hang of it. Don’t be afraid to fail, it requires a lot of practice.
pouring latte art

Essential Tools

  • A Tamper: Simeon has named his Mjölnir. Coincidentally Thor, the Norse God of Thunder, has a hammer named Mjölnir.
  • Milk steaming mugs: Like a chef and their knives, Simeon takes his to every latte art competition.

Optional Tools

  • Food Scale- one that can measure very accurately to the gram.
  • Knock box– to easily dispose of used coffee pucks.

That covers the tools and essentials you’ll need to get the perfect espresso shot.

When Making Espresso Be Sure To Follow These Can’t Miss Steps…

  1. Start by purging the steam from your machine for a few seconds, this wakes it up. It also jumpstarts the boilers and recalibrates them.
  2. Make sure the inside of your Portafilter is dry and free of residue. Any obstructions can hamper your perfect espresso experience.
  3. Fill the basket of your Portafilter with 15-18 grams of coffee. Be sure to pack, tamp, and level evenly. Ideally you should tamp between 20-30 pounds of pressure or until the coffee pushes back.
  4. For perfect espresso results, use reverse osmosis purified water heated to roughly 200 degrees.
  5. The extraction process should last 25-35 seconds.

This is only a condensed shot of the skills and coffee knowledge that is packed into one of our hour-long Coffee 10 classes. Professor Bean also covers things like perfecting steaming milk and latte art. To get the full experience, just like Roasterie coffee aficionado Larry Dilley, you have to attend Coffee 101 in person.

pouring a shot of espresso

Care to try your hand at pulling the perfect espresso shot like the pros? Want to learn why we slurp our coffee? Then sign up for one of our upcoming Coffee 101 classes and learn from the best.