Espresso coffee is beloved all over the world. Strong in taste, espresso is delicious, highly caffeinated and easy to make, but difficult to master. There are a lot of variables that go into making the perfect espresso, and these factors have a major impact on the taste of your final brew.

Let’s take a look at a few variables that go into the perfect shot of espresso.

Espresso Perfection Variables


Possibly the most important variable. Water can contain sediment and minerals that make the taste of coffee and espresso a little off. Filters are recommended to ensure your water is as clean and sediment-free as possible.

Filtered water, not the bottle kind, is the best choice for brewing espresso.

Grind Grade

Espresso’s fine grind is what makes it espresso. If the grind is too coarse, you’ll be making coffee and not espresso. Ideally, you want a fine grind meant for espresso. If you’re grinding your own beans, you’ll want to choose fine grind.

A good trick to test the right grind measurement is:

  • Pinch the grinds between your thumb and forefinger.
  • Look at the grind in the spot where pressure was applied.

The coffee should be firmly clumped together in the center and gently fall off on the sides.


The temperature setting you choose will have a major impact on the final taste of the espresso. If you like roasted flavors, a higher temperature is ideal. Most people agree that 194 – 200 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.

Making Espresso

I won’t go into detail on different espresso makers because not everyone is going to go out and buy a new model. Instead, follow these directions to make espresso coffee right the first time:

  1. Add the appropriate amount of water to your Moka pot, or respective coffee maker / pot.
  2. Add in your finely ground coffee beans to the filter.
  3. Tamp the grinds to ensure they’re packed perfectly.

Tamp is the practice of compacting the grinds in the filter. There are special tools for this, or you can use the back of a spoon. Simply press down on the grinds and make sure that they’re packed tightly together for the utmost in flavor.

Note: It’s recommended to add 7 grams of espresso coffee grinds for a single shot. Double shots can contain 14 – 18 grams of grinds. The more grinds, the stronger the taste will be, so adjust to your own taste preference.

At this point, you’ll either flip the switch on your coffee maker or you’ll need to tighten the top of your pot before putting it on the stove. If you have a temperature setting available, set your machine to 195 – 200 degrees, whichever you prefer.

For those that have a Moka pot, it’s recommended to turn your stove between high and medium when brewing. I like to test the different temperature ranges to experience different flavors. For a lighter taste, put your temperature setting closer to medium. If you like a roasted taste, put your temperature to high.

Once brewed, pour into your cup, and enjoy!