How To Use An Espresso Machine Step-by-Step [Expert’s Guide]

Do you know how to use an espresso machine? It’s not difficult. It’s easy.

When I was in college, I worked as a barista in one of the local cafeterias. From a very early age, I turned into a coffee addict. It had gone so far that later I became an espresso consultant.

Do you have a similar espresso-fever like me?

If yes, then you must have to go to preparing cappuccino, latte, and macchiato yourself or perhaps for your restaurant. And therefore, being familiar with an espresso machine is an absolute necessity.

Now the question is how to use an espresso machine?

Well, regular coffee makers function simply. So primarily, making an espresso may appear mysterious and intimidating seeing the complexity. But trust me, it’s not so. Once you know how the machine works, using an espresso machine will no more be a daunting task for you.

Get to Know Your Rig Components

Before knowing how to use an espresso machine, let’s have a glance at the common parts of a typical espresso rig-

The Portafilter

It is an assemblage of a filter basket, a handle, and a spigot. It’s that handled component where the machine brews the espresso grounds.

The Grouphead

This is the place where the portafilter locks into. It contains a metal filter alone with a rubber gasket. Extensive and expensive espressos have more than one head.

The Steam Wand

It’s a long metal tube through which steam spits out. To control the flow, it must have a knob or lever. Again larger machines can have two or three or even more steam wards. It’s used for milk steaming.

The Shot Buttons

These buttons are needed to make a shot of espresso. When you press one the machine gets a command to send water through the portafilter. These are typically like:- Single Shot, Single Long, Double Shot, Double Long, etc. 

Warming Rack

Before pouring your coffee you should warm your espresso cup just put it on the warming rack. Usually, you will find this feature on commercial machines.

How to Use an Espresso Machine:- The Procedure

In order to know how to use an espresso machine, follow the step by step process below:

1. Machine Preparation

Before making your espresso you need to prepare your machine.

Step 1: Fill Up the Reservoir

Espresso Machine Preparation

This is the first and foremost thing to do- filling the reservoir, of course with water. Keep in your mind that the water you are pouring is cold and filtered and not distilled. Distilled water will damage the boiler.

In some commercial espresso machines, water-pipe supply water into the maker. In that case, you don’t have to worry about the water level. But if yours is not a commercial one, make sure the water doesn’t cross the waterline.

Step 2: Heat the Machine

Turn on the switch on the back-splash of the machine to heat it up. How much time would require, depends on the size of your machine. Small ones usually need 15 minutes to heat up whereas larger ones require up to 45 minutes. So before starting brewing, check the temperature and the necessary pressure as well. This pressure will force water toward the portafilter.

Step 3: Detach portafilter, and Rinse It Up and Dry

It’s essential to know how to separate or insert a portafilter. You have to insert it into the bottom of the Grouphead. For entering, turn the portafilter to the right. And to detach, screw it to the left.

You can wash it in two ways. One, you can rinse it with detergent under the tap of your kitchen. Remember to pull the basket out of the basin before cleaning. Or there is another smarter way.

Insert the filter into the group head and lock it. Turn on the water which will allow it to the group head. Thus any old coffee, the detergent will be washed out. Then wipe the filter as well as the bottom of the group head with a dry towel.

2. Pulling Espresso Shot

Espresso Shot

After completing the preparation of your espresso machine, you are now ready to pulling espresso shot-

Step 1: Grind the Beans And Move Them to the Portafilter

First, measure the required amount of beans. The amount depends on the type of shot. For example, it will need 18-21 grams of coffee bean for a standard double shot.

After that comes grinding. The quality of your espresso depends on how finely you grind your beans. Beans must turn into powder or close to powder after grinding. 

That is why we recommend using the coffee grinder. We have reviewed some top grinders for you. You can check those too.

Once you’ve ground them, saunter down to the next step. That is filling the portafilter with those grounds. Remove the portafilter from the group head. Transfer the espresso grounds to the brew basket.

Step 2: Level, Dose and Tamp

First, circulate the grounds evenly in the basket and with your forefinger level the top. Store the excess grounds into a bowl. Then dose and temp. You can use your arm or a tamper to tamp them in the portafilter. Each time you tap, try to exert 30 pounds of load on your tamper. Continue taping until it creates a compressed puck.

Step 3: Pull the Shot of Espresso and Serve

Place the portafilter in its position beneath the group head and lock it. Then place a serving glass under the spout. Then turn on the water. Water goes through the compressed coffee puck in the portafilter. And then it mixes with the grounds and creates espresso that comes out the spout into the cup. The complete extraction may take 30 seconds. Depends on your machine’s bar pressures. 

You can learn more details from my other article about how to make espresso.

3. Milk Steaming

Now it’s ready to sip. To remove the bitterness, you can mix cream or milk with it.

Step 1: Purge the Wand

The first time it’s done to prevent contaminants getting in. Turn on the opening valve to let the steam come out. Wait five seconds while the steam blows and then close the valve.

Step 2: Measure Milk

Eyeballing the amount is tricky. Pour the required volume of milk in a metal container or cup. The volume depends on the size of the drink. For example, if you want a 6-ounce single shot coffee, you’ll need 5 ounces of milk.

Step 3: Dip the Wand And Turn ON Steam

milk frothing

Firstly, submerge the wand tip in the milk. Hold the container at 45-degree angle. Try to place the tip in the middle of the container.

Then start steaming the milk. You’ll find it increasing in volume. Tenderly move the cup down until the tip is about at the outer edge of the container. Then gently plunge it down again to continue frothing the milk. Continue frothing until the container becomes too hot to touch.

Step 4: Purge the Wand Again

After removing the cup, turn on the steamer to purge any residual milk. Let the steam blow out for some second again. Then wipe it with a damp towel.

You can learn more from this video of Coffeeholic- Michael Anderson:

Final Verdict

Here I have portrayed ‘how to use an espresso machine’ in well ordered. With the goal that it may not appear as a mind-boggling assessment to you. I think, making a single shot is no more a hard nut to crack for you now.

Work according to the steps and also appropriately. Correctly Tamping, using perfect water-to-coffee ratio, all these skills are to be acquired. And acquiring them is a matter of time and practice. Make your first attempt today, and you will become an expert like me any day.


A. I. Moon

A.I. Moon, an experienced SEO Pythonista, spends his days coding and developing web applications to help business owners. A passionate coffee enthusiast, he believes that drinking coffee fuels his creativity and productivity. His day isn't complete without the rich aroma and invigorating warmth of a perfectly brewed cup. This love for coffee inspired him to found EspressoRivo, a platform dedicated to sharing his coffee knowledge and fostering a community of passionate aficionados.

Scroll to Top