Making the Perfect Espresso: Easy Does It

The Marketing Manager at De’Longhi UK explains the perfect way to make an espresso using an at-home espresso machine.


Q. My current coffee machine can’t heat milk at the same time as it makes an espresso, so there is often a wait before serving a latte. I’ve heard that you should serve an espresso quickly – can you advise me on this? Does the coffee deteriorate after a certain amount of time?

A. The espresso is at the heart of all coffee drinks. Ideally the perfect espresso is a serving of 30ml and should have a soft as velvet ‘crema’ on the top. The most important timing for the ideal espresso is that it should be extracted between 18 and 22 seconds. When drinking just an espresso, it is important to serve it quickly because this crema slowly disappears, the coffee cools and the aroma gradually fades.

When a barista makes a latte they may use the crema on top of the espresso to combine with the micro-foam of the frothed milk to create latte art. Other than this, it isn’t too important to be able to serve the espresso quickly, since freshly foamed milk will generally hold the bulk of the heat of the drink and will also mask some of the subtler aromas and flavours of a neat espresso. Make sure not to over-heat the milk, however, as this will degrade the overall flavour.

When using a domestic coffee machine make the espresso first and then foam the milk. If you foam the milk first, you are essentially increasing the boiler temperature and so you can risk burning the espresso.

Many premium De’Longhi machines can overcome this problem. Thermoblock is a precise boiler technology that can independently control the milk frother and the espresso, so it does not matter whether you froth the milk or pour coffee first.