There’s something magnificent about enjoying a delicious espresso in the comfort of your own home - particularly if you've made it yourself. Achieving barista-quality espresso at home might seem daunting, but with the right equipment and techniques, it's not as complicated as you might think. Here, we explore the essential tools you’ll need, provide step-by-step guidance on using these tools, and share tips for pulling that flawless shot. Whether you're a seasoned coffee pro or a curious beginner, we’ve got everything you need on your journey to home-brewed espresso excellence.

Let’s get brewing!

What should a home espresso setup include?

The most obvious answer is an espresso machine and yes, that’s where many people start.

There are a wide range of espresso machines on the market, and while it's a good idea to get the best espresso machine you can afford, it's not the key component - that comes a little earlier in the process.

As professional baristas will agree, the most important piece of equipment to get right when making espresso at home is the coffee grinder.

Espresso requires extremely fine coffee grounds to make good coffee, because high pressure is used to force the water through the packed coffee grounds.

If those grounds are too coarse, then the water gushes past without picking up the essential flavours; if they are too fine then the water struggles to get through and the result is an over-extracted shot that tastes bitter.

This is why it's vital to choose a good-quality coffee grinder because it will allow you to accurately control the consistency of the ground coffee.

What grinder should I use to make espresso at home

Firstly, make sure the grinder can grind fine enough - choose a grinder with a great reputation for delivering excellent tasting espresso.

What else should I be looking out for?

When making coffee at home, you're usually preparing it for yourself or just a few people, so a single dose coffee grinder is likely to be the best choice for you. As the name implies, a single dose coffee grinder allows you to grind just the right amount of coffee for a single brew. This is ideal for home use because it preserves bean freshness and reduces waste by avoiding the need for a large hopper.

Since you grind less coffee at home, trapped grinds can go stale and taint the next brew, so choose a grinder that doesn't retain ground coffee.

Finally, choose something that works for your home. Large industrial coffee grinders are unlikely to be suitable for the home environment, so look for something that is compact and quiet.

The Niche Zero and Niche Duo were designed to meet all of these needs. Precision grinding, single-dose capability and a straight through design that minimises retention, all wrapped in compact designs that are whisper quiet.

What else will I need?

Finally, you’re going to need some other pieces of equipment to ensure excellent quality espresso. This is a full list of the home espresso setup essentials:

  1. Fresh, quality coffee beans that were roasted in the last 6 weeks, ideally more recently
  2. A good quality grinder designed for home use
  3. Your espresso machine of choice
  4. A decent set of scales, preferably with a timer built in
  5. Filtered water
  6. A portafilter - ideally bottomless, so you can see the shot pour
  7. A tamper you're comfortable with
  8. We recommend also using a knockbox to avoid mess

How to make espresso shots at home

Now that we have everything we need, it's time to get started.

1. Preparing the espresso machine

  1. Preheat your cup with hot water - you don’t want the heat from the fresh coffee being drained immediately by the cup.
  2. Take the portafilter out and purge the espresso machine by turning it on for a few seconds, which will allow water to flush the system.
  3. Clean and dry the portafilter thoroughly.
  4. Return the portafilter to ensure it stays at temperature until you need it.
  5. Make sure the espresso machine is fully warmed up before you start pouring your shot.

2. Weigh and grind your coffee

  1. Weigh your coffee before the grind – we typically use a 2:1 ratio, for example 18g of beans to deliver a 36g shot of espresso. However, feel free to experiment with these ratios to suit your tastes.
  2. Adjust the grinder to a suitable grind size for espresso.
  3. Grind your coffee beans.

3. Puck prep and tamping

  1. Distribute the coffee grounds evenly within the portafilter basket. The Niche Zero and Niche Duo come with a grind cup that's designed to fit inside a standard 58mm portafilter - allowing you to distribute the grinds with a quick shake.
  2. Use your tamper to compress the coffee in the portafilter basket. Tamping is important as it allows you to control the density of the coffee in the basket. With a premium grinder such as the Niche Zero or Niche Duo, you only need to apply a light, even tamp.
  3. Wipe any loose grounds off the top of the basket - this is important to ensure you don’t damage the rubber gasket inside the espresso machine.

4. Pouring the shot 

  1. Insert the portafilter into your espresso machine.
  2. Add scales (ideally with timer) under the portafilter.
  3. Put your cup on top of the scales but directly under the portafilter.
  4. Start your espresso machine and timer simultaneously. We’re aiming for approximately 36g of espresso in 25-30 seconds.
  5. If using a bottomless portafilter (we recommend you do), you should see the portafilter start to saturate with espresso and converge into a steady single stream.
  6. Just before the shot weight reaches 36g stop the espresso machine.
  7. If your 36g shot took more than 30 seconds or less than 25 seconds then you may need to adjust something. Continue reading to understand what you should do in these instances.

5. Clean and reset

  1. Take the portafilter and knock the puck of coffee grounds into your knockbox.
  2. Purge the machine with a few seconds of water and rinse the portafilter basket completely.
  3. Store the portafilter back in the espresso machine.

6. Enjoy your drink

  1. Sit back and enjoy your espresso.

How to make espresso taste better

So you’ve made an espresso but it doesn’t taste quite the way you want - what are the things you can do to fine tune and make it better next time?

Pour speed

Don’t forget to look at the pour speed- did you reach the target weight too quickly? If so, adjust your grind setting slightly finer and try again. If the shot was too slow then make your grind a little coarser.


Water quality is important so don’t ignore your water source. Hard water is not only bad for the taste but will result in limescale clogging and damaging your machine. Look at buying water filter machines or filtered water to improve this essential ingredient for the benefit of great tasting espresso and the long term health of your espresso machine.

drink freshly ground coffee


Like grinding, tamping will affect the density of the coffee puck and thus the speed of the shot. We recommend trying to keep your tamping pressure consistent and using the grinder to change the grind size according to your needs.

Beware of choking. If the puck is too heavily compacted or the grind size is too fine, the shot will not form as the liquid will not be able to pass through the puck, resulting in no espresso.

The coffee beans

Remember to use fresh coffee - and never store ground coffee, instead grind it as needed just before you make your espresso. Stale coffee will absolutely not make a good espresso, no matter the quality of your grinder or espresso machine. As coffee goes stale you will lose all the aromatic oils that give it its beautiful taste.

Spluttering and channelling

If using a bottomless portafilter, you may experience some spluttering, where the espresso flows unevenly and spits, even coming out at an angle. This can be due to channelling, where the water doesn’t flow evenly through the puck due to clumping or a crack.

Avoid this by taking care with your tamping technique and making sure you have a good grind quality – poor grinders or unclean equipment can often cause clumping.

Under and overextraction

Adjusting the speed and learning when to stop your pour will get you the perfect balance of flavours in your coffee.

Underextraction occurs when you stop too early (and equally, when your coffee ground density is too light). Espresso flavours come in stages, with the sweeter tastes towards the end and underextraction leads to a sour, acidic coffee.

Overextraction happens when you let the coffee pour for too long, or your grinds are too dense. You will have passed the sweet spot in the coffee and gone on beyond, resulting in a bitter and hollow tasting shot.

It will come – just practice, practice, practice!

Crafting a perfect espresso at home is an achievable goal with the right equipment and techniques. From choosing a high-quality grinder like the Niche Zero or Niche Duo to mastering the art of grinding, tamping, and pouring, each step is crucial for that barista-quality shot.

Remember to use fresh beans, filtered water, and precise measurements to enhance your brew. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner, these tips will help you create a delicious espresso in the comfort of your own home. So, gather your tools, follow the steps, and enjoy the satisfaction of making your own exquisite espresso.