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How Do You Use an Espresso Machine?

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Updated August 25, 2022

You may want to know how do you use an espresso machine if you just purchased your first model. Espresso machines come in various operation styles, spanning from manual espresso machines to super-automatic espresso makers. If you just started brewing with the best coffee maker, you most likely want an automatic or super-automatic espresso kitchen appliance.


  • You should have your desired roast coffee grounds, water, and your espresso machine.
  • If you have a manual machine or one without a grinder, you need ground coffee beans or a separate grinder.
  • Your shot should brew in about 30 seconds, but you may want to allow extra time for prep if you’re not comfortable with the brewing process yet.

All espresso machines not rated superautomatic require the user to dose, grind, and tamp their coffee themselves. Additionally, superautomatic machines clean themselves between uses too, but they come with a steep cost. Espresso machines also come in pump or steam models. If you want to know more about different pump coffee makers, find out how does a coffee maker pump water. Alternatively, you can read more about how espresso coffee makers work or if you are curious, how a pod coffee maker works.

Using an Espresso Machine

Espresso machines seem daunting to inexperienced baristas at home or in a coffee shop. However, most espresso machines remain relatively easy to use. You need to make sure you use grinds with the proper coarseness. For the best taste, measure and grind the coffee beans yourself immediately before brewing. If you want to try another brewing method, learn how do you use a pour-over coffee maker.

Insider Tip

Use freshly ground coffee beans for an enhanced flavor.

You shouldn’t need much other than the machine and its part, water, and your desired roast. If you have a product that heats water itself, use cold water instead of hot water. However, some manual machines may require you to heat your water separately. You may also need to set up your steam wand and settings before making your shot of espresso. Also, if you are wondering how long should a coffee maker take to make coffee, be sure to check out our review of the Starbucks Verismo 580 which can make delicious coffee and espresso drinks in less than a minute.

First Use Preparation

  1. Fill your water tank to ensure you have enough water for your espresso shot or espresso drink. Use cold water or cool water in your reservoir, and you may want to consider using filtered or distilled water. Although you shouldn’t use distilled water on a drip coffee machine, your espresso does not require the same mineral content for extraction.
  2. Fill your coffee bean hopper or your grounds compartment. Your espresso appliance determines whether you need whole coffee beans or pre-ground ones. If you need grounds, you still want to use freshly ground coffee beans, so you will need a grinder. For espresso, you want fine grounds, so don’t use the ones you would for a drip coffee maker.
  3. Plug your espresso machine in and turn it on. Some espresso machines require a heating-up period, so consult your user’s manual to see if yours does. These first three steps only need to be done the first time you brew.

Brewing a Shot

  1. Insert a filter and your grounds into the filter holder. This holder is sometimes referred to as the brew basket, and it sits under the brew head. If you have a portafilter instead, it goes in the same place. You should use the amount that your user manual states. However, if your machine came with a measuring scoop, you may only need one scoop. You will also need to tamp or compress the coffee.
  2. Place the carafe on the drip tray under the brew basket. If your machine’s carafe has a spout, face the spout toward the device.
  3. Turn the machine off once your espresso finishes the brewing process. If you have a pump maker, you will need to turn off the pump. Brewing typically takes about 30 seconds, depending on how strong you want your espresso shot.
  4. After the espresso maker cools, remove the portafilter or filter and discard the beans. Make sure to clean your device between uses to avoid erosion or other damage.


Espresso machines produce heat, so wait until yours cools off before emptying your filter or portafilter.


Can you use regular coffee beans in an espresso machine?

Yes, you can use regular coffee beans. However, you want a fine grind instead of another coarseness level. You also may prefer a lighter or darker roast. So, you may want to experiment with different roasts and flavors.

Is espresso stronger than coffee?

Espresso contains more caffeine per fluid ounce than drip coffee. Although this is the case, you make less espresso than you do drip coffee, so the size of your brews affects how much caffeine you receive in a cup of coffee.

How do you use an espresso machine to make a latte?

You should first preheat your mug. Then, make two shots of espresso for a strong latte. If you prefer weaker lattes, brew one shot. Finally, froth your milk using the steam wand and pour it into your glass with the espresso, but pour slowly to prevent the froth from flowing out before the milk.

STAT: The espresso machine in your favorite cafe very likely has internal boilers, which heat water to the desired temperature, and dispenses it with a pump capable of hitting and sustaining around 9 bars of pressure (around 130 psi). (source)

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