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I have a lever press espresso machine and wondered how I can produce the optimal shot of espresso.

I am using the single serving sieve and try to fill it up to a point so that after compressing the grinds, it tightly fits in the machine. Then I pull the lever up, wait until some espresso pours out and start to gently pull the level down. I do this twice.

Is it OK to let espresso pour out? Should it be dripping or flowing or is this a bad sign?
How often can I pull down the lever, does this change with the size of the sieve?

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Because manual machines work under the same premise as automatic machines, you can follow the standards for a normal espresso. Id suggest looking at other guides to making a good espresso, or even watching how the espresso is poured at your favorite cafe.

Consistency

The ideal consistency for espresso should come out between a pour and a drip in what I'm coining a half-drip. It should look like this:

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Brew Ratio

The standard brew ration for an espresso is 1:2 - 1:1.5, 1.5-2 grams of water for every gram of coffee. Since a double basket is usually about 18g of coffee, you should aim for about 27-36g of espresso.

Since every manual machine is different, you'll have to play around to see how many times you need to pull the lever to get the right amount of espresso. This also means if you have a bigger basket, you will need to pull the lever down more times to get a similar shot.

  • Just to add to the "half-drip" description: if it pours like a viscous liquid (maybe similar to honey), you're on the right track. The way (only way) to get that is fresh beans; 4-14 days post-roast tends to be the sweet spot, but some blends are great 30 days after roast as well. I aim for about 1.5-2 oz for a double, but that differs based on blend, age of beans, what flavor you prefer. – zoned post meridiem Nov 8 '13 at 15:32

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