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A Complete Guide to What Coffee to Use in Espresso Machine

The pursuit of the ideal espresso centers on flavor, scent, and skill. Choosing the right beans is fundamental to crafting an outstanding espresso. This guide aims to demystify what kind of coffee for espresso machine, ensuring every cup you brew is rich, robust, and remarkably satisfying. From understanding your machine's intricacies to selecting the ideal beans, we'll guide you through the essential steps to enhance your home barista skills and elevate your coffee experience.

Coffee for Espresso Machine

What Are the Espresso Machines?

Espresso machines are specialized coffee-making devices designed to brew a concentrated, rich coffee known as espresso by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water through finely ground coffee beans. Key components like the portafilter, group head, and steam wand play pivotal roles in this process. The machine's ability to maintain consistent pressure and the optimal temperature is crucial for a balanced and flavorful espresso.

They vary from manual to semi-automatic, automatic, and super-automatic models, catering to different levels of user involvement and convenience. These machines, essential in coffee shops and increasingly popular for home use, are known for their ability to extract the full flavor and aroma from coffee beans, creating a strong and creamy shot topped with a layer of crema, the hallmark of a well-made espresso.

How to Choose the Right Coffee for Your Espresso Machine?

Choose the Right Coffee

What kind of coffee do you use in an espresso machine? Choosing the right coffee for your espresso machine needs to consider several factors, including the type of coffee beans, roast level, their freshness, and the grind size.

Type of Coffee Beans

Espresso beans are typically darker and richer in flavor than regular coffee beans due to a longer roasting process that brings out intense flavors and oils. While you can use regular coffee beans, coffee beans for espresso machine are recommended for true espresso, as they have the right flavor profile and grind size. Popular options include dark roasts like Death Wish Coffee 100% Dark Roast, Blue Horse 100% Dark Roast, and various Lavazza blends.

Roast Level

The roast level of your coffee can dramatically affect the taste of your espresso.

  • Dark roasts are traditionally favored for their bold, intense flavors and thick crema, ideal for those who enjoy a strong, robust cup.
  • Medium roasts offer a balance, highlighting the coffee's natural characteristics with a slightly sweeter, more nuanced flavor profile.
  • Light roasts, while less common for espresso, can provide a unique, bright, and acidic shot, rich in original flavors and aromatics.

Freshness of the Coffee Beans

Freshness is critical for high-quality espresso. Coffee beans begin to lose their flavor and aroma shortly after roasting, so the coffee you use for espresso machine should be roasted within the last two weeks. Buying from a local roaster can ensure maximum freshness. Store your beans in an airtight container away from light, moisture, and heat to preserve their flavor.

Grind Size

The ideal grind size of coffee to buy for espresso machine is fine and powdery, similar to table salt. This allows for optimal extraction of flavors and oils, resulting in a rich and flavorful espresso. A burr grinder is recommended for achieving this fine grind, as it provides a consistent grind without overheating the beans, which can alter their flavor. The texture should be between sand and powder, allowing the flavor to shine through while extracting the desired amount of sugar.

What Kind of Ground Coffee for Espresso Machine?

Coffee Grounds

For making espresso with an espresso machine, it's crucial to use the right type of coffee grounds for espresso machine to achieve the perfect shot. The ideal grind for espresso is a fine grind, often described as slightly finer than granulated sugar. This consistency is essential because espresso machines use high pressure to force water through the coffee grounds quickly, usually in about 25-30 seconds. If the grind is too coarse, the water will pass through too quickly, resulting in a weak and under-extracted shot. Conversely, if the grind is too fine, it can lead to over-extraction, making the espresso taste bitter and burnt.

When using an espresso machine, it's advisable to grind the beans just before brewing. A burr grinder is preferred over a blade grinder, as it provides a more consistent grind size, which is crucial for extracting the full flavor of the coffee. The grind size might need slight adjustments depending on your specific machine and the beans' freshness and roast level.

Things to Consider When Making Espresso Coffee

Make Espresso Coffee

Having known what type of coffee for espresso machine, there are several important factors to consider when using an espresso machine to ensure that you brew a high-quality shot:

  • Coffee Dose: The amount of coffee used for a shot of espresso is typically around 18-20 grams for a double shot. However, this can vary depending on your machine and preferences.
  • Tamping: Tamping is the act of compressing the coffee grounds in the portafilter. It should be done evenly and with the right amount of pressure to ensure a uniform extraction.
  • Water Quality: The water used in brewing espresso should be clean and free of impurities. The mineral content of the water can also affect the taste of the espresso, so using filtered or bottled water might be preferable.
  • Machine Temperature: The temperature of the water for brewing espresso is typically around 90-96°C (195-205°F). Ensuring your espresso machine is properly heated and stable in temperature is critical.
  • Extraction Time: The ideal extraction time for an espresso shot is generally between 25-30 seconds. If the shot pulls too fast, it can be under-extracted and sour; if it pulls too slow, it can be over-extracted and bitter.
  • Milk Quality and Frothing (if making milk-based drinks): For drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, the quality of the milk and the technique for frothing it are important. Fresh, cold milk is best, and the frothing should create smooth, fine microfoam.


In conclusion, to decide what kind of coffee to use in espresso machine, you need to understand the nuances of your equipment and the coffee itself. From grasping the basics of espresso machines, to choosing suitable coffee types and grounds, every aspect plays a pivotal role. Paying attention to grind size, bean freshness, and personal taste preferences will enhance your espresso experience. Embrace these guidelines to master the art of espresso-making and enjoy the perfect cup every time.

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