by Janet Stayte March 15, 2023 7 min read
Making coffee at home can be a challenge, but it doesn't have to be. The perfect espresso coffee can easily be made from the comfort of your home with three things: great coffee beans, a great espresso machine, and plenty of practice.
There’s a lot to know about making coffee, but the good thing is that with new home machines, you can choose how much effort you want to put in. You don't have to be a professional barista to get that golden espresso you're after.
If you just want a tasty brew in the morning, you can set your coffee machine up so you don’t need to do quite as much. If you want to go all out, and explore all there is to know, you can tweak almost every variable.
In this article we’ll get you going on making a tasty shot of espresso, using our favourite Breville espresso machine for home, the Breville Bambino Plus. What you do with it, and how much further you want to take your knowledge is up to you. For the coffee nerds out there, who want to get the perfect coffee every time, check out our article on extraction percentage.
The Breville Bambino Home Coffee Machine is our machine of choice, when making espresso coffees at home. Its sleek stainless steel facade, compact size, reliability, and ease of use make it the best home espresso machine you'll find for its price point.
The Breville Bambino is designed using the 4 keys formula; a system which closely models professional espresso machines. The 4 keys formula is about ensuring the right dose of freshly ground beans, precise temperature control, optimal water pressure, and a steam wand that can create cafe quality microfoam milk.
Luckily, setting up your home espresso machine has never been more simple. This Breville coffee machine streamlines the process.
Wash all parts and dry thoroughly before assembling machine.
Soak the water filter and place in your coffee machine
Fill water tank.
Turn the machine on and wait for lights to stop flashing
You’re ready to Rumble.
The Bambino Plus is one of the most simple machines to set up, which is one of the reasons we like it so much.
When you're making espresso it’s a very good idea to have all your equipment clean, dry and ready. There are many tools that can assist you in making an espresso but we will keep it simple. Here’s what you will need:
OK so you’ve got your gear, the water tank is full, you've got your favourite coffee beans on hand, and the machine is ready and waiting. It's important to wait until the lights stop flashing on your Breville espresso machine before you start to make coffee. This is to achieve the correct temperature and optimal water pressure.
The very first thing you want to do is lock in the portafilter with the basket empty (so don't put any ground coffee in it just yet!) and run some hot water through for about 5-10 seconds. This will make sure everything is hot so there will be no heat loss when making your first coffee.
Grab the portafilter out and dry the basket. This is an important step; any moisture in the basket, or coffee residue, can ruin your shot, and inhibit you from getting that golden espresso you're after.
Place the portafilter onto your scales and tare. Next, grind your coffee. By using freshly ground beans, you can ensure you get the best out of your specialty coffee.
A grinder like the Breville Smart Grinder will grind your dose directly into the basket. Weigh to your chosen dose. If you're unsure of what the right dose is, check the basket size of your coffee machine. The Breville Bambino Plus has a basket size of 18g. By using the recommended dose for your coffee machine, the overall quality of your espresso shot, will drastically improve.
Once your portafilter has coffee grinds in it, give it a few gentle taps on the side with your hand. What you're aiming to do is level the surface of the coffee. There's no need to be aggressive, just nice and gentle. Level coffee results in a more even tamp and better extraction.
Place the portafilter against the edge of the bench using the side opposite to the handle. Do not rest it on the spouts where the coffee comes out. This can cause damage to the spouts and/or your bench.
Grab your tamp similar to how you would hold a door handle and adjust your arm so your elbow is at a 90° angle and your forearm is perpendicular to the bench. Push down until you feel the coffee completely resist the force, then release the pressure. At this stage you can move your fingers around the edge where the tamp and basket meet to check you have tamped level. The aim here again is to tamp evenly.
Gently remove the tamp and clean the edges of the basket with your fingers before putting it in the machine.
We want to weigh the shot as it’s running, to measure how much coffee comes out, so place your cup on the scales under the portafilter, and hit go. As the shot is running keep an eye on the weight. When your shot is a couple of grams off what you want, hit stop and the shot will drip out to what you’re after. How much you get after hitting stop will vary for a number of reasons so you’ll have to practise.
Alternatively, there is an automatic shot option on the Breville Bambino Plus, if you don't want to bother with scales or weight.
This part can be a challenge for some, but luckily the newer Breville Espresso Machines, such as the Breville Bambino, can foam milk automatically, giving you that perfect velvety textured milk, all at the press of a button.
If you're up for a challenge and want to create that true microfoam milk yourself, there's a few steps you'll need to take, but it's a skill that's well within reach.
Fill your milk jug with cold milk, to just below the spout.
Before you put steam your milk, clean the steam wand, by placing it over the drip tray, and press the steam button.
Once it gets to its full steam pressure, press the steam button again to stop it.
Place your milk jug underneath the steam wand, ensuring the tip of the steam wand is just touching the surface of the milk, and off-centre.
Turn the steam button on, leaving the jug where it's positioned for about three seconds. Following this, pull the jug slightly higher up the steam wand, so the wand is submerged in the milk. You'll want to create a whirpool effect with the milk. This whirlpool spins the milk, and ensures that the foam and milk is perfectly combined to create that velvety textured milk.
Once the jug is hot to touch, (around 65 degrees celcius), turn the steam button off.
Clean the steam wand with a damp cloth, and aim the steam wand back over the drip tray, and press the steam button once more to purge any leftover milk that might be in the steam wand.
So, you've made your espresso, and it's not quite right? That's a normal part of making coffee. Small adjustments can make huge impacts on flavour, and the Breville Bambino allows you to make adjustments to particular variables that impact flavour.
When you’re making coffee and you want to make changes you need a consistent method and to know your variables so you can change one at a time while keeping everything else the same. For espresso at home the variables to keep in mind are dose, yield and grind.
Your grind size will have the biggest impact on the flavour of your coffee. The more coarse your grind, the easier it will be for water to pass through the dry coffee bed and the less you will get out of the coffee. Too coarse, and your shot can taste sour and watery. A finer grind results in a slower and bolder shot of espresso. Too fine, and the coffee can taste burnt or overextracted. Adjusting your grind size, majorly affects the flavour of coffee.
Dose is the amount of dry ground coffee in your basket. The amount you use will depend on the size of your basket. If you have an 18g basket then it’s best to use 18g. Simple as that. Every time you make a coffee you should weigh the ground coffee to ensure you're using the right dose.
Yield is the weight of the espresso shot you pull. The larger your yield, the more you will get out of the coffee in terms of flavour. At the beginning of the shot the liquid is syrupy and can have a more acidic taste. As the shot runs the shot becomes less syrupy and more caramel and chocolate like flavours will come out. This will depend on the coffee you are using but is a general rule to think about when pulling shots. This leads us into ratio.
The ratio we are talking about here is dose:yield. When you adjust the dose or yield you are changing the ratio between them. This is what you should keep in mind when making adjustments and why you should only change one at a time. A good place to start is a 1:2 ratio (dose to yield). You may find with lighter roasts that you can increase this. It will change with different coffees and the way they have been processed, roasted and stored.
In summary, the Breville Bambino Plus, is a great piece of home coffee equipment, and it's in our opinion the best home espresso machine on the market. It gives you the best of both worlds, by providing an automatic espresso machine, as well as a manual espresso machine, all in one. You can choose how much you wish to automate, and the coffee you can make with this Breville machine is of a far higher quality than other home coffee machines at the same price point, particularly automatic espresso machines.
Sign up to get the latest on sales, new releases and more