Espresso – A Definitive Guide for the Beginner Home Barista

Espresso is a wonderful drink that, once you tried it, will make you turn your nose up at drip or other coffees.  Espresso is rich, complex, and has intense flavors. This guide will teach you everything about espresso. 

This guide is conceived to help coffee lovers with all level of experience from completely newbie to seasoned barista. We can't cram too much content on this page, because we want to cover all knowledge levels. However, we will direct you to the appropriate resources. 

Pulling espresso shot with naked portafilter

pulling espresso shot with naked portafilter


Table of Contents



Espresso Guides for Beginners

Espresso making is a relatively simple process but you need a little experience to get that perfect taste. So making an espresso shot is not a big deal. However, to make it perfect, you need a little bit of experience. This section is all about getting you started.

What Is Espresso

Espresso is a coffee obtained by using pressure during the preparation process. In order to prepare an espresso, a small amount of water is pushed through a puck of finely ground coffee beans. The pressure is what makes espresso special, and it allows the barista to extract more flavors from the beans. Because of this, an espresso cannot be brewed with a French press, a Keurig, or a drip coffeemaker. Here is a more detailed article that explains what is espresso, and more importantly what espresso is not.

Espresso is the base for many milk-based coffee drinks, and coffee lovers look for inexpensive ideas to prepare it at home. From a flavor and taste perspective, you cannot use other coffee brewing methods to make espresso. However, if you are looking to make a latte, any strong coffee will do, because the espresso flavor is drenched into the milk. If you are making a cappuccino though, you better stick with real espresso, or at least espresso alternatives. Take a look in the advanced brewing section, and you'll find a guide for brewing espresso alternatives.

Quick Espresso Brewing Guides [Infographics]

This section links to a few quick brewing guides to get you started. The guides are just enough to point you in the right direction, if you don't have any experience at all, or if you want a memory refresh. Espresso brewing is a race for perfection, for most enthusiasts. But the perfectionists have to start somehow, and these infographics are a perfect way.

Espresso Based Beverages

There are many coffee based beverages, and most of them have milk and espresso as the base. Milk adds texture and sweetness to the drink, and it helps those with sensitive stomach. Espresso is the choice of brew for most milk and coffee drinks because espresso has a strong flavor that can still shine when diluted with milk.  

Here is the list of caffeinated beverages made with espresso shots: latte, cappuccino, caffè macchiato, caffè mocha, flat white.

The list is actually longer, if you want to learn about new ways to enjoy your espresso, browse the list here: List of Coffee and Espresso Beverages

For a short comparison between the most popular espresso beverages check our article here: Cappuccino vs Latte vs Mocha.

What Is the Difference Between Espresso and Coffee

There is a popular belief that espresso is just another word for strong concentrated coffee. While espresso is strong and concentrated, it is also so much more than that.

We have many coffee lovers asking us: "Can I make espresso with a coffee maker?" We always answer that no, you cannot. If we were to prepare a "drip coffee espresso", the taste would be awful. Sure milk covers some of that taste, but not entirely. 

Acceptable espresso alternatives are the Moka pot and the Aeropress, which brew under pressure. In fact this is what makes espresso special, the pressure during the coffee extraction. 

Anyway, for an in-depth article on the topic, check our post here: Espresso vs Coffee – What are the Differences?

Advanced Espresso Guides

These are advanced espresso brewing guides, meant to show you how to make delicious coffee. The tutorials in this section take the espresso preparing to a higher level. They guide you step by step on your home barista learning journey. 

Geeky Espresso Brewing

Our guides will give you the needed knowledge, and the confidence to aim for coffee greatness. All you need to do is invest your time in reading our brewing guides. We even show you how to make cheap espresso alternatives, if you are on a tight budget.

This section is for people who make espresso on a regular basis, or have done it at least a few times, and would like to improve their knowledge and technique. The content in this section will help you troubleshoot your coffee.

You can also learn here how to tweak your beverage to suit your preference. You want more bite, we show you how to get it. You want a smooth coffee, we show you that as well.

Espresso Equipment and Tools

This section is a collection of espresso equipment guides and reviews. I know what it means to watch your budget carefully, but wanting to get that espresso machine that fulfill your needs. So I base all of my reviews on that. 

Espresso Coffee Makers, Tools, and Equipment

You might want to check our espresso maker reviews, and what equipment we recommend. We guide you on how to choose the best espresso machine that fits your needs.

Sure, it is wonderful to buy the best espresso machine, and all of the tools and equipment that a professional baristas use. However, sometimes the budget restricts us to the bare minimum. Yow can work with that, if you need to. 

More Espresso Articles

This section include all of the articles tagged Espresso

Bella Espresso Maker – Make Cappuccinos at Home with a Steam Espresso Machine
Next Generation of the Moka Pot – Stovetop Espresso Maker at 9 Bar
How to Choose Coffee Beans for Espresso
Gaggia Titanium Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Review
Best Cheap Espresso Machines
How to Make AeroPress Coffee – The AeroPress Brew Guide
DeLonghi Domestic Espresso Machines – An Overview of their Best Machines
DeLonghi Esam Magnifica Review
Saeco Philips Intelia Super-Automatic Espresso Machine Review
This Bukidnon coffee farmer is bringing Robusta back into the spotlight
Is there such a Thing as a Dead Espresso Shot?
Best Steam Based Espresso Machines
5 Best Espresso Cups – 5 Demitasse Cups
Espresso Knock Box – The Best and the Cheapest
DeLonghi Magnifica Espresso Machine – ESAM3300 vs ECAM22110SB
9 Ways to Drink Coffee Conscientiously
Sowtech Steam Driven Espresso Maker – Review
Cappuccino vs Latte vs Mocha, What Are the Differences?
5 Great Cappuccino Cups – How to Buy a Cappuccino Cups Set
How To Brew Espresso – How to Make the Perfect Espresso
Krups Espresseria Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
What The Heck Is A Bone Dry Cappuccino?
Semi Automatic Espresso Machine Reviews and a Beginner’s Guide to Buy One
Manual Espresso Machines
Secrets to Making a Great Latte at Home
The Best Combination Coffee and Espresso Machine – A Guide and Reviews
The Best Beans for Espresso – Six Amazing Espresso Coffees
Espresso vs Nespresso vs illy iperEspresso – Capsule Espresso Machines vs Semiautomatics
What Is an Americano Coffee and How to Make It at Home
Does Solid Coffee Taste Good?
Espresso vs Coffee – What are the Differences?
Jura ENA 9 One Touch – Review
How to Make Coffee with a Moka Pot – Infographic
How to Make Coffee with an AeroPress – Infographic
How to Tamp Espresso – The Perfect Espresso Tamping
Mr. Coffee 4 Cup Steam Espresso System with Milk Frother, ECM160
Can You Make Espresso Using a Keurig [Keurig Rivo Might Be an Answer]
Gaggia Accademia Review
How to Make Espresso with an Espresso Machine – Infographic
How to Choose an Office Espresso Machine
8 At-Home Iced Coffee Ideas That Will Keep You Cool & Energized All Summer Long
Rancilio Silvia vs Gaggia Classic
America’s Next Top Barista
Choose your Krups Espresso Machine

Expert Barista Skills vs Basic Caffeinated Needs

There are many variables that make or break the final taste of your coffee. If you nail them, you will achieve what many baristas desperately desire to make – the perfect cup of coffee.

You’ll learn how to pull an espresso shot, steam perfect milk and pour beautiful latte art. We’ll even show you how to shop for equipment, get the best machine for your budget and how to make espresso without even using an espresso machine.

If this is all you want to know, we have that information in an easy to read format. But if you could take it a step further, would you? If you answered yes, it's great because we have a tutorial for you too.

If you don’t have the time or the resources to explore the world of coffee it’s okay! Learn whatever you need to learn, when you need to know it. We’ll be here when you want to know expand your knowledge.

Photo of author

Dorian Bodnariuc

My name is Dorian and I am a former barista. I consume coffee in any form, as a beverage, in savory recipes and desserts. My favorite caffeinated beverage is the espresso. I love to share my coffee brewing knowledge and my geeky coffee research. This blog is one of the places I write about coffee. More about Dorian... If you want to learn more about this site and how I started it, check our About Me page, where I explain all about it.