Espresso machine

How to Up Your Espresso Game on the Cheap

May 25, 2020

Making amazing espresso at home can be done without an expensive machine - and we have some tips on how to do just that.

We’ve all been there: you get up, you make yourself a morning cup of espresso, you take that first life-affirming sip, and the coffee is just… fine. It’s nothing special, it’s not bad, but something within you longs for something ‘more’. But do not despair! We have a few cheap and easy ways for you to make better coffee at home, without spending upwards of $1,000 on a new espresso machine

Ditch the Pre-Ground Coffee

Pre-ground coffee is great. It saves precious seconds in the morning, and if you don’t have a grinder, it’s just a necessity. But if a quality cup is your goal, you should switch to buying whole beans and grinding them yourself. The reason for this is simple: oxidization. Part of the flavor of coffee lies in the oils locked within the coffee bean itself, and these oils slowly begin to push their way out after roasting. Once they make their way to the surface of the bean air makes the oil evaporate, turning the coffee stale. Roasted coffee beans are fresh for an average of two weeks after being roasted - ground coffee is truly fresh for just one hour after the bag is opened. If fresh coffee is your goal, use whole beans (keep them in a sealed container!) and grind them yourself.

Use a Quality Roast

Switching to whole bean coffee is a step in the right direction, but it won’t do much if the roast you’re using is low-quality and already stale. We recommend staying away from big brands, and supporting your local roasters (shameless plug, you can buy our always fresh coffee here). If you have a brand you already like, however, just make sure that you check its best-before date when you buy a bag - nobody likes stale beans.

Clean That Grinder

If you’re already using ground coffee, make sure you clean your grinder regularly. The last thing you want is mold ruining your wonderful roasts, or the accumulated gunk of months of use making your grounds the wrong fineness.

Check the Settings on Your Grinder

Speaking of the wrong fineness, check the setting on your grinder. Is it set to a setting appropriate for espresso, or is it grinding something closer to a french press’ coarseness? The fineness of the grind plays a big part in making a proper cup of espresso, as the more fine the grind, the more flavor the water can absorb.

Pack it Tight

We’re getting granular now, but no less important. Every time you prep your coffee, pack it tightly. This will also cause the water being pressed through grounds to inherit more of the flavor, meaning you get more of that amazing beany goodness in your cup.

Use Clean Water

Last but not least, use clean water. If the tap water in your area has noticeable chlorine, fluoride, or mineral flavors, that will compromise the integrity of your espresso! Using a simple water filter and making a clean jug of water every night will result in a cleaner cup of coffee, and who doesn’t want that?