Espresso Education Session

Espresso is a process

The more someone learns about espresso, and the more someone practices the steps, the easier it becomes to understand the correlation between what’s happening and what you taste in the cup.

Espresso is an extraction

The flavors we experience come from the life cycle of coffee: the fruit itself contributes fruit acids and fruit sugars to the seed, which develops caramelized sugars and aromatics when roasted. These flavors are solids that dissolve in hot water.

Extraction is a process

The different flavor solubles in espresso will dissolve at different times during the brewing because the particles are different sizes and have different rates of solubility. How coffee is brewed can make it taste more sour, sweet, or bitter.

Influencing extraction

Manipulating the flavor profile of an espresso means directly changing extraction variables and learning how they impact what you are tasting. These variables include: ratio, grind, contact time, water temperature, and agitation.

Extraction progression

Mineral content, then fruit acids dissolve first, then fruit sugars, caramelized sugars, and then the drier, more bitter plant compounds during espresso extraction. Adjusting the extraction variables controls the rate at which these flavors extract.

Fruit Acids
Fruit Sugars
Caramelized Sugars
Dry, Bitter Plant Compounds

Strong, Thick Balanced Thin, Watery

The Steps of Pulling a Shot of Espresso

Controlling extraction relies on manipulating variables, but in order to have those variables reflect the changes we make, it’s important to follow a distinct pattern of steps while pulling an espresso to ensure consistency.

The Steps of Pulling a Shot of Espresso

Controlling extraction relies on manipulating variables, but in order to have those variables reflect the changes we make, it’s important to follow a distinct pattern of steps while pulling an espresso to ensure consistency.

Step 1

Remove portafilter from grouphead and flush group

Flushing the grouphead will remove any leftover coffee residue from the screen and bring fresh water to the grouphead.

Step 2

Wipe basket clean and dry.

Wiping the basket out will remove any coffee residue and moisture, creating a clean environment for doing coffee into the filter basket.

Step 3

Dose and distribute desired grams of coffee

Coffee should be dosed consistently for every shot pulled, and distributed before tamping. Even distribution helps create even density
in the tamped coffee puck.

Step 4

Tamp consistently, level & ergonomically.

Tamping coffee creates an even seal around the edge of the basket, letting the water work evenly through the puck. It’s important to keep the wrist straight to avoid repetitive motion injury.

Step 5

Clean loose grounds from portafilter surfaces.

Cleaning the coffee grounds from the top of the basket and the portafilter wings prevents the grounds from getting stuck in the grouphead threads and the gasket.

Step 6

Insert portafilter into the grouphead and start the pump immediately.

Delays in starting the shot allows for heat and moisture from the grouphead to cook through the coffee before the shot starts.

Step 7

Observe the flow and stop pump appropriately.

When watching the shot, visual cues include final volume, flow rate, viscosity, and color of the espresso as it’s pulling.

Step 8

Serve or use to make espresso-based drink.

Espresso has a short lifespan — if it sits too long, some of the organic acids break down and the coffee becomes more tart and
also more bitter.

Step 9

Remove portafilter and knockout spent grounds.

Knock out spent pucks immediately to prevent them from drying out. A dried out puck will not cleanly release from the basket when knocked, and will leave more residue to clean.

Step 10

Wipe basket clean and flush group (rinse optional).

Clean the basket before re-inserting, and if getting dirty, flush water through the filter basket and spouts to leave them cleaner.

Step 11

Return portafilter to grouphead to keep preheated

Keep portafilters inserted in the grouphead to maintain consistent temperature. If the portafilter loses temp, the water has to heat the metal while pulling a shot, leading

to low brew temperatures.

Extraction variables

Contact Time Water Temperature Agitation


The amount of coffee and water used influences not only how strong the espresso tastes, but also affects how many of the soluble flavor compounds the water can extract. More coffee, less water = strong and tart. More water, less coffee = weak and bitter.


Grinding coffee creates surface area for water to penetrate into the coffee particles and extract flavor compounds. Finer grinds allow water to penetrate easier, while coarser grinds take longer for water to penetrate into the deeper center of the particle to extract flavor compounds.

Contact time

The longer water spends in time with ground coffee, the more it will extract. Finer grinds, which extract quicker, need shorter contact times to avoid pulling out bitter flavors. Coarser grinds, which extract slower, need longer contact times to pull out sweeter flavors.

Water temperature

Water temperature will affect which flavors are extracting from the coffee. Water close to boiling will extract the dry, bitter flavors almost immediately. Low water temperatures won’t be able to extract the sweeter sugars.


As coffee is agitated during a brewing cycle, it extracts exponentially more and more. This can be managed by the flow of water through the bed with drip coffee, manual stirring with immersion brew methods, or the pressurized water from the pump motor with espresso

Building a recipe

An Espresso recipe represents a variety of extraction variables just through the ratio and time. Because of the pressurized water flow rate of the espresso machine, ratio and time also represent grind and agitation. A good recipe gives a window for finding balance in sweetness and flavors.

Preparation guidelines:

18g filter basket
18g-19g in / 38-40g out / 26-30 seconds

20g filter basket: 19-20g in / 38-42g out / 28-32 seconds

Espresso is a process

There are many factors combining in an instant that affect how an espresso will pull. Knowing that the ratio of coffee and water, the grind size, the contact time, and the water temperature can all affect extraction will allow subtle, unique expressions of both Creamery or any Single Origin Coffee.

Experimentation, repetition, and research are three foundations for espresso progression. Finding sweetness and balance relies on aiming for a constantly shifting target, opening up room for finding beautiful flavors outside a specific recipe. Go and make these coffees your own.