My favorite part about going to a cafe is watching the barista make my coffee. Witnessing a handful of small brown beans transform into a cup of pure happiness and energy is honestly quite mind blowing. After learning how to use an espresso machine, how to steam milk, and combining the final drink, I then realize that making coffee is a form of art. Though baristas throw an amazing show with their fluid movements and swiftness, the process of making the base of a coffee drink- an espresso- is actually quite simple. 

1. Grind Your Beans

coffee, espresso, beer
Shizuka Tei

It is highly recommended to grind your beans right when you want to make your coffee to ensure that you have a fresh, aromatic cup of coffee. The longer the grounded coffee is exposed to the air, it increases oxidization and leaves the brewed coffee tasting stale. 

2. Pack and Tamper the Grinded Coffee Into a Portafilter

coffee, beer, wine
Shizuka Tei

A portafilter is the round filter basket you see the baristas place the grounded espresso beans in. Once the grounded beans are in the portafilter, you then want to "tamper" the espresso grounds. This means to pack the grounds so that the grounds become compact and dense. This is a crucial step because the portafilter needs space between the grounds and the screen in order to fasten onto the espresso machine. The compactness of the grounds also allow the pressured water to pick up and carry out the rich coffee flavor. 

3. Attach the Portafilter on the Group Head and Pull the Shot

coffee, espresso, wine, beer
Shizuka Tei

A group head is the circular piece that connects the potafilter on the espresso machine. Once the portafilter is locked in place, place your demitasse (cup that specifically fits an espresso shot) under the spout and choose the preferred setting to make the espresso.  "Pull the shot" was the phrased used back when espresso machines didn't come with programmed buttons. Rather, baristas would pull a lever attached to the machine, allowing water to fill the portafilter proceeding the brewing process. 

4. Complete Your Espresso Drink

coffee, chocolate, tea, espresso
Alex Frank

Ta-da! You made your espresso shot! Unless you simply just wanted to make a shot of espresso, there is a long list of delicious espresso drinks you can make such as lattes, macchiatos, and even affogatos