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Jan 30, 2007 05:06 PM

Really stupid questions about making espresso

This is embarrassing... I've just acquired a new semi-auto espresso maker and am trying to figure out how to use it - and am hoping there are some espresso experts out there... before I return this machine and go back to the mocha pot.

First, I'm figuring out how to make a single espresso. After filling the water tank and the 1-cup espresso filter with coffee, I put the cup under the filter and switch on... coffee starts to come out. How do I know when to stop it? There has to be a more or less precise point when the right amount of water has passed through the coffee etc. Is it a matter of just knowing when the correct amount of espresso is in the cup?

Second... I never thought about this before but how does one make espressos for a bunch of people, say 6? Make 2, then clean out the filter, dry it, add new coffee, make another 2 and so on...?


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  1. It would help if you told us exactly what kind of espresso maker you bought - they are all a little different. I would strongly suggest reading the manual that came with it - many machines need to be pre-heated (called "priming") via the steam wand and pressurized filter prior to making the espresso.

    FYI- a typical shot is either 1 oz (short) or 2 oz (long). To make multiples, you usually make 2 x 1oz servings , clean out the filter, re-prime, and make again etc. Not the easiest thing to do for a crowd.

    1. What jcanncuk said.

      Also, most baristas aim for a 20-25 second shot. You can tell when to end the shot by the fill of the cup, of course, but more importantly by the look of the stream coming out of the portafilter. Good baristas adjust the grind and tamping to control the flow rate and ensure that optimal extraction ends within the 20 to 25-second time frame.

      1. Check out for answers to all of it....they are a great source for all things espresso!