Understanding Espresso

Espresso isn't just for espresso drinkers as the espresso shot is at the heart of all espresso-based coffees including lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites, macchiatos and long blacks. 

With a little knowledge you will be able to get a great coffee every time. I have refined my Espresso Machine Workflow over many years and have brought everything back to basics. It may look tricky at first, but have no fear as my son has been making great coffee at home with my Italian espresso machines since the age of 10. Yes, it really is surprisingly simple. 


K Bean’s "Rule of Fourths"

To make great espresso with an Italian coffee machine you really need to understand coffee extraction. My "Rule of Fourths" technique will help you with that. It’s really simple so give it a try.

Here’s the process. Pull a shot and take away 4 parts of approx 15 ml each. Taste each one. Start with Part 4 and work your way back to Part 1. The last part (Part 4) is thin and bitter, and this should never get into any coffee. Part 3 is a little bitter but also sweet. Part 2 is sweet and fruity. I call this “the pleaser.” Part 1 is thick, intense and guaranteed to make your taste buds dance.  

The "Rule of Fourths" is also useful for showing the difference between a ristretto and an espresso. To get a ristretto mix together Parts 1 and 2. To get an espresso mix Parts 1, 2 and 3.  


It's Easy to Become a Home Barista

There are many ways to make espresso and every barista has a different way of doing things.  My own Barista Workflows have been refined over many years, and I have successfully trained 500+ home baristas.

A key goal of any barista's workflow is to reduce the number of variables. Weighing is a great way to reduce the "amount of coffee" variable. Consistent dosing and tamping are other variables that need to be controlled.  It's not difficult at all, but my training will help you to get the technique right so you can dose and tamp consistently.

I think of the grinder collar as the steering wheel to the process, as with a good workflow, the grind size in the only variable. This means that you can "drive" your espresso machine by changing the grinder setting. If follows that making your espresso without a consistent workflow is like driving your car with with a jelly steering wheel.