How to Make Crema Espresso

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What is the definition of crema in espresso

The crema in espresso is the coffee bean oils oozing to the surface of the espresso shot. Carbon dioxide is released when brewing espresso and forms many tiny bubbles. This pushes the coffee been oils to the surface of the espresso shot.

Crema is considered the gold standard for brewing a perfect espresso shot.

What should espresso crema look like

Crema in espresso is the top layer of an espresso shot that has a golden caramel color to it.

Crema looks creamy and smooth in its texture.

Crema in espresso should last for at least 2 minutes before dissolving into the rest of the espresso shot.

Espresso crema should be about 1/10 of the espresso shot in size. This is the ideal amount of crema a barista is looking for when brewing an espresso shot.

How to Make Crema Espresso

To make crema espresso, make sure you’re using fresh coffee beans. Espresso is usually not creamy if the espresso beans are old. Freshly roasted espresso beans are needed to achieve a creamy espresso shot.

  1. Clean and dry your portafilter.
  2. Grind your espresso into your portafilter. You can measure the dose of coffee using a digital scale to get an accurate measurement. Use the correct dose based on your filter basket manufacturer recommendation. Only use this measurement. Your dose should never change. For a double shot of espresso it could be anywhere from 18-20g of dry ground coffee beans.
  3. Tap the portafilter to let the espresso grinds fall into the filter basket.
  4. For any extra heaping espresso grinds, use your finger on the top of the basket, to gently guide the espresso into the basket.
  5. Once the espresso dose is level and even around of the portafilter, you’re ready to tamp your espresso.
  6. Tamp your portafilter using ~ 30 lbs of pressure. Use a scale if you need to get the rough measurement of how much pressure to use.
  7. Brew your espresso. The brew time should be about 25-27 seconds.
  8. This should produce an espresso shot that weighs ~30 g. The weight of your espresso shot should be double the amount of your dose. If your espresso dry ground dose is 18g, this should produce a 36 g espresso shot.

How fresh of coffee beans should you be using for espresso

Espresso beans should be roasted and used within 1-3 weeks.

The older the espresso beans, the finer the grind needed to produce the espresso shot of ideal timing.

Make sure to adjust your grind as your espresso beans get older to achieve your ideal 20-30 second brew time.

When should you grind your espresso beans

Espresso coffee beans need to be ground right before brewing. If you grind your espresso beans too soon, the humidity in the air can penetrate the espresso beans, making them damp and not being able to fully be extracted. This can cause the flavor of espresso to be not as strong or flavorful.

Too light of a crema

  • under-extraction. The crema disappears within 1 minute, indicating the crema is too thin. Under-extraction causes espresso to not be as flavorful and strong as it should be.
  • espresso machine not warm enough. The brew head needs to be heated up long enough until it reaches 195-205 degrees F. You can get a temperature gauge to measure the temperature of the brew head.

Espresso machine not making any crema

  • over-extraction: There may not even be any crema showing in the espresso shot. This could be due to over tamping, the grind being too fine, or the brew time being too long.
  • espresso machine too hot. (over 205 degrees F) The espresso beans can become too hot when brewed which can cause the shot to become bitter, harsh, and too thick.

Which coffee beans produce the best crema

Arabica Coffee beans produce a beautiful crema and has the best flavor possible for espresso.

Arabica coffee has caramel, chocolate, nutty flavor to it, with a hint of fruit. Arabica coffee has only a small amount of acidity and bitterness to it.

Robusta Coffee beans produce the best crema, but it is a little more harsh and bitter than Arabica coffee. Robusta coffee has more caffeine than Arabica coffee, and has less sugar. This produces a less than ideal flavor for espresso over Arabica coffee beans.

how to dose coffee

How to Dose Coffee

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Dosing coffee refers to the weight of dry coffee grounds placed in a portafilter.

  1. Clean and dry your portafilter.
  2. Grind your espresso into your portafilter. You can measure the dose of coffee using a digital scale to get an accurate measurement.
  3. Tap the portafilter to let the espresso grinds fall into the basket.
  4. For any extra heaping espresso grinds, use your finger on the top of the basket, to gently guide the espresso into the basket.
  5. Once the espresso dose is level and even around of the portafilter, you’re ready to tamp your espresso.

How to measure the correct dosage of coffee

To measure the correct dosage of coffee, you can use a digital scale to measure the number of grams in your portafilter basket.

How many grams in a double shot of espresso

In a double shot of espresso you should put 14-18g of ground coffee beans in your portafilter. This will produce 30-36 g espresso shot.

Find your recommended number of grams for your filter basket from your manufacturer. Each portafilter basket is different for their recommended dose.

How many espresso grounds in a single shot of espresso

For one shot of espresso, you’ll need about 6-8 grams of dry ground coffee beans. The volume of a single shot espresso will produce 12-16 g of liquid espresso.

Espresso brew ratio

Espresso brew ratio is generally a 1:2 ratio. 1g of ground dry coffee beans will yield 2g of liquid espresso.

However, you can change your espresso brew time to increase or decrease the yield of espresso. You can dose the exact same, but brew it for less time or more time.

Espresso Brew Ratio of 1:1 – your espresso will be under-extracted, and therefore much thicker and stronger.

Espresso Brew Ratio of 1:3 – your espresso will be weaker and thinner.

Your espresso brew ratio can change depending on your preference for your coffee. The dose will always be fixed.

You can measure your dose using a digital scale. Place your portafilter on a scale and measure the amount of espresso going into the portafilter basket to get an accurate dose, every time.

How long to brew espresso for

If your shot comes out too fast – less than 20-25 seconds, your espresso will be too acidic and bitter.

If your espresso shot is too slow – more than 30 seconds the espresso will be weaker and too thin. It will not have the pungent flavor and taste espresso normally has.

Ideally an espresso shot should be brewed for 20-30 seconds.

How hard should you tamp espresso

Espresso should be tamped with about 30 lbs of pressure.

You can also use a distribution tool which will level the coffee and tamp it for you which will give you consistent espresso shots, without having to use a tamper. This will produce the best crema possible for your espresso shot.

If you’re still having difficulties pulling the best espresso shot, try our espresso troubleshooting guide.

how to dose coffee

Espresso Shot Troubleshooting

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Espresso shot troubleshooting guide

If you’re struggling with your espresso shot brewing too fast, too slow, or is lacking crema, try a few of these different fixes that might help solve your espresso problems.

Espresso machine drips too slow

If your espresso machine is dripping to slow, try:

  • adjusting the grind to a coarser grind. The larger the espresso grind, the faster the brew flow of the espresso.
  • tamping too hard – if you tamp the espresso too hard, the compacted espresso beans will not allow water to flow through it well. Try tamping a little less hard and see if your espresso brews faster.
  • machine needs descaling. If your water is heavily mineralized, your espresso machine will be coated in minerals, which will cause a buildup and water will not be able to travel through your machine. Try running white vinegar through your machine to remove the minerals. Only use distilled water through your machine if your water contains too many minerals. This way you will not have to descale your espresso machine.

Espresso shot drips too fast

If your espresso shot is dripping out too fast out of your espresso maker, try these simple fixes:

  • adjust the grind to a finer grind. The smaller the espresso grind, the slower the espresso will come out of the machine
  • old coffee beans – coffee beans will age over time, and change their ability to pull a good shot of espresso. Use fresh beans that have been recently roasted to have your espresso pull slower out of your espresso machine.
  • tamping too lighting – aim for tamping 30 lbs of pressure. Try using your tamper on a scale to see how much 30 lbs of pressure is. Then try tamping your coffee at the same amount of pressure.
  • gasket not fitted correctly – could be a buildup of coffee underneath the gasket. Scrape the excess coffee grounds and refit with a new gasket. Gaskets should be replaced once a year.

Espresso channeling

Espresso channeling can give an espresso shot a lack of crema, weak flavoring, and can cause the espresso to brew too fast. This results in too much espresso that you would expect for an espresso shot.

Water flowing through espresso is going to find the path of least resistance.

If you’re filling your portafilter with espresso, sometimes you’ll get one side too high and the other side is lower with espresso beans. If you tamped an uneven dose of espresso, you’ll get espresso channeling.

Espresso channeling can cause under-extraction and over-extraction at the same time, if not dosed correctly.

If you inspect the espresso puck after brewing, you can tell where the water is channeling around the puck.

Espresso channeling can be due to:

  • undersized tamper – if your filter basket is larger than your tamper, you’re not tamping all of your coffee, even if you run it along the edges of the basket. Try a precision basket with your properly fitted tamper, and this should help
  • uneven tamping – espresso is not dosed correctly.

Espresso not creamy

Creamy espresso is the golden standard for an espresso shot. Crema is formed by pulling a fresh shot of espresso using fresh beans, tamping 30 lbs of pressure, and using the proper grind.

Espresso is usually not creamy if the espresso beans are old. Freshly roasted espresso beans are needed to achieve a creamy espresso shot.

Portafilter Wet or Dirty

Clean your portafilter with water to remove all of the remaining coffee beans that may be present. Dry the portafilter thoroughly before grinding your next espresso shot. You don’t want your espresso to be prematurely wet prior to extraction. This can cause uneven tamping and a more bitter espresso shot.

When to start timing espresso shot

Start timing your espresso shot when the first drop hits your mug.

Your espresso shot should brew within 20-30 seconds.

espresso machine drips too slow

5 Top Premium Coffee Machine Brands

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Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. There are a few top premium coffee machine brands that stand above all when it comes to brewing coffee.


La Marzocco

In 1939 La Marzocco was founded in Italy and created their first espresso machine. They patented the very first coffee maker with a horizontal boiler. This is now industry standard today.

Their coffee machines are handcrafted making it an artisan company. They are very proud of this, even after 90 years in business including all of their technology innovations. La Marzocco believes in longevity of their products, they build them to last. 


Rocket Espresso machines are produced in their small factory in Milan, Italy. They have a small team of craftsmen who create one of the finest espresso machines you can purchase. Rocket Espresso focuses on all the little details that go into creating espresso makers, fine tuning them to perfection before they reach the customer.

Nuova Simonelli

Since 1936 Nuova Simonelli has been creating espresso makers that focus on new innovations, reliability, and dependability. They are world renowned as:

  • one of the first ergonomic espresso machines
  • Official world barista championship machine
  • Compasso d’Oro for design innovation


Izzo was founded in 1995 creating both home and commercial espresso coffee machines. They have designed their machines to pull the most ideal shot of espresso. They are built to last, including some of the best components you can put in espresso machines. Izzo has centered their expertise giving you control over the brewing process with mechanical controls. Izzo espresso machines are top of the line.

Rancilio Group

Rancilio Group was founded in 1926 in Italy. Rancilio Group is a leading professional in the coffee machine industry. They focus on products standing out in the market by developing and patenting new cutting edge technologies in their labs. Rancilio group tests each of their espresso machines before sending them out, making sure they’re ready to go the moment you receive your new espresso maker.

espresso brewing

What should you look for when buying an espresso coffee maker?

  • longevity vs cost
  • durability of how often you will be using it
  • semi-automatic vs super-automatic
  • ergonomics
  • space allowance in your kitchen
  • grinder that you will be using if needed (semi-automatic espresso machine)
  • steaming options
  • how much control you want – temperature, dosing, grinding
  • add on accessories – pressure gauge, Proportional-Integral-Derivative (controls boiler heater), steam wand thermometer, steaming pitcher, tamper, etc.

Is buying an espresso machine worth it?

Yes! The time and money you save over the long term is huge. The time you spend driving to go get your coffee everyday and the price is actually a lot more than an espresso maker. Do you the math on how much it is costing you per year, and you’ll find out it’s likely 1 year of coffee out = espresso machine cost.

Buying an espresso machine is one of the most exhilarating experiences. The moment you get it home you’ll be so excited to learn this new skill. It takes time to perfect pulling a delicious shot of espresso. Be patient!

latte art espro milk pitcher