Whole Latte Love Blog

How to Pull Consistent Espresso Shots

by Marc Buckman Updated: March 11, 2020 5 min read

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Whether you’re a new home barista or you’ve been pulling espresso shots for years, we all know how hard it can be to pull consistent espresso shots and create the same delicious beverage day after day. But we have a couple of hacks and coffee tips for baristas so that you can find your sweet spot and pull the perfect espresso shot at home.

How to Store Coffee Beans

We always say that the best coffee and espresso comes from fresh, whole bean coffee. So, the first key to getting tasty and consistent espresso shots is to make sure that you’re properly storing your beans in a sealed, airtight container, away from heat and light.

An All-Time Customer Favorite
Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean Espresso Coffee

Lavazza Super Crema Whole Bean Espresso Coffee

811 Reviews
Roast Profile: Medium

This will prevent moisture from creating mold and/or stale beans and it will also prevent any heat or light damage to your coffee beans. We suggest picking up a storage container that will keep your beans safe and ready for us.

Bodum Presso 20 fl oz Storage Jar in White

Bodum Presso 20 fl oz Storage Jar in White

Complete Your Set-Up with the Bodum Presso 20 fl oz Storage Jar The 2012 Bodum Presso Storage Jar represents the next generation of the Presso collection and introduces advanced materials for incre...

Invest in a Coffee Grinder with Consistent Particle Size

Make sure you get a grinder that produces consistent particle size and gives you the option to make infinitesimal grind adjustments, also known as stepless grinders. We really love the Ceado E37S Quick Set Electronic Coffee and Espresso Grinder: the worm gear adjustment knob allows you to make micro-adjustments without having to take the machine apart and losing your preferred grind sized in its entirety.

Ceado E37S Quick Set Espresso Grinder in Black

Ceado E37S Quick Set Espresso Grinder in Black

56 Reviews
The E37S takes programmability to the next level with its touchscreen display and Ceado’s Portioning System Selector. Program and dose three personalized presets with this powerful, doserless grinder with stepless worm gear adjustment and impressive 83mm burrs.

Now, if you’re looking for a grinder that doesn’t waste any coffee at all, take a look at the Ceado E37SD, it has a lot of the same features as the E37S but it’s also a single dosing grinder which means the amount of beans you put in the grinder, is the exact weight that you’ll get after grinding. We’ll get more into grind size and weight below.

Ceado E37SD Single Dose Coffee Grinder

Ceado E37SD Single Dose Coffee Grinder

2 Reviews
The E37SD is a dedicated single dose grinder from Ceado, designed for use with all methods of coffee preparation. Its massive 83 mm titanium coated burrs produce consistent grinds with near zero retention. The included barista tools are designed to eliminate static for perfect dosing.

Espresso Grind Size

Your grind size will vary depending on the type of coffee you’re using, your brew method and the result you’re going for. But, for beginners, we recommend starting with a grind size resembling granulated sugar, from there you can fine-tune the grind size based on your extraction timing.

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The Best Grind Sizes for Different Coffee Brewing Methods

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The Golden Rule for espresso is that a double shot of espresso sits between 25-35 seconds from the first drip of espresso which should get you a little over 2 ounces or 60 ml. If your extraction is too fast, adjust to a finer grind size, if on the other hand, your extraction is too slow, then adjust to a coarser grind size. Play around with your own grinder to see which results create the perfect espresso for you.

How Many Coffee Grounds Per Cup

If you’re dosing for a double shot of espresso, we suggest starting with 18 grams. You can use a different amount, but for consistency try sticking with 18 grams for each extraction especially if you’re using the same coffee.

If you want to take it a step further, you can use a scale to help you with this step. You can weigh the coffee by itself, in a portafilter or use a grinder with a built-in scale like the Baratza Sette 270Wi, a popular grinder for entry-level home baristas. If your grinder has a timer to dose your coffee feel free to use this to your advantage, but at some point you might want to weigh the coffee so you know what grind time produces a specific weight. You’ll need to reweigh from time to time if changing your coffee, grind size and of course if your coffee gets old.

Acaia Lunar Espresso Scale Weighing a Portafilter

Weighing your dose of ground coffee in the portafilter helps guarantee consistency when pulling shots.

After grinding, distribute the grinds in the portafilter evenly and tamp to level the surface. An old suggestion that a lot of baristas still adhere to is that you need to tamp with 30lbs of force. Instead, think of it this way, you want to be firm, but not too hard when tamping your coffee. It’s more important to create a level surface that’s parallel to the edge of portafilter than to tamp with exactly 30lbs of pressure.

If you don’t want to worry about tamping pressure, thankfully there’s an easier way to get an even surface level with the right amount of force, using the Jack Leveler. Read more about getting consistent results without having to tamp in our blog below!

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How to Setup and Use the Asso Coffee Jack Leveler

The Asso Jack Leveler is coffee distribution tool that we have become fond of here at the office. In this blog, we talk about the Jack and how to use it to get a good coffee puck.
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Coffee Brewing Temperature

Finally, let’s talk about brewing temperature.

Espresso should be anywhere between 195 to 205 degrees. To make sure your brew temperature is as consistent as possible, make sure your espresso machine and portafilter are locked in and warmed up to proper brew temperatures.

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Quick Tip: Even when you aren’t dosing coffee into your portafilter, we still recommend keeping your portafilter locked into the machine, this is especially helpful if you have an E61 group machine since it uses a thermosyphon system that uses water from the boiler to heat up the grouphead, which will keep your portafilter nice and toasty when you’re ready to start extraction.

This technique is also helpful for prosumer dual boiler with PID, just set the temp you want and the boilers and the machine will take care of everything else. For single boiler and heat exchanger espresso machines, use a cooling flush to remove overheated water.

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The flushing technique allows brew water to run until the temperatures drop a bit, this should usually only take a few seconds, however, the flush can be shorter or not needed at all when pulling shots in rapid succession.

Once you’ve achieved consistency in your shots by controlling the grind, dose, and temperature, you can start playing with subtle adjustments for each variable to fine-tune flavor.

Marc Buckman
Marc Buckman

Marc is one of Whole Latte Love's resident experts on everything coffee. He built our YouTube channel from the ground up in 2009, demystifying the world of coffee for upwards of 100k subscribers by producing over 1000 in-depth videos. Marc enjoys hiking, scuba diving, and saving the lives of his coworkers when the kitchen runs out of coffee by sharing some of his own.