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Before we get into this, it has to be said that there are many different ways to pull what you’d call the perfect shot. So we’re not at all saying that ours is the ONLY perfect way, we’d just like to show you what things to look out for so that can make YOUR perfect shot.
Remove your portafilter from the machine, and purge the machine. This means running some water through it as if you were making an espresso, but for the purpose of cleaning the part that comes into contact with the coffee. That way, you’re ensuring only fresh coffee is being used and old coffee is being cleared away.
Fill your port filter with coffee until you have a small mound of loose coffee. Carefully level off the coffee with the sides of your finger. You’ll likely loose coffee off the sides of the portafilter at this stage so either do it over the bag or back into the grinder’s ground coffee container. Or make a mess, it’s your call.
Place the flat edge of the portafilter onto a flat surface (don’t press down onto the spouts, your portafilter should have a flat part for this step) and use the tamper to press the coffee grounds down. The important thing isn’t that they’re tamped too hard or too lightly but that the coffee is perfectly level. The water coming from the machine will naturally chose the path of least resistance and if the bed is uneven it will unevenly reach different areas of the coffee in the portafilter. That said, don’t fret about it: it takes practice!
Once you’ve got it nice and level, put your portafilter into the espresso machine and start your extraction! Ideally, you’ll see that both spouts (if your machine has them) start dripping coffee at the same time and at the same rate. That means you’ve tamped properly and that your coffee has been ground to the right coarseness.
The extraction should take about 28 seconds. If your coffee blonds (turns a lighter shade of gold and gets thinner) before this time, then perhaps your dose is too low. If it takes longer than 5 seconds to begin pouring from the spouts, then you’ve either tamped too hard, put too much coffee in, or both. It could also be your machine needs maintaining! When discussing espresso shots, we’re dealing with tiny changes to yield big results, so practise is key!
Once your extraction is complete stop the machine, remove the portafilter and discard the coffee grounds, give the portafilter a clean and then put it back into the machine. Then, after all that, you can enjoy your perfect espresso!