How to Use Espresso Machine to Make Café-Quality Espresso at Home

Unlock the pleasure of true barista-quality espresso drinks right from the comfort of your kitchen with the distinctive KitchenAid® coffee collection. The KitchenAid® Burr Coffee Grinder coupled with the KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine equip you to craft delicious lattes, velvety Americanos, and delectable cappuccinos without leaving your home.

Espresso, a rich and multi-layered brew, does not necessitate a complicated process. Our guide will tell you how to master your at-home espresso to bring café-style beverages into your personal space. Begin your journey towards discovering new tastes and brewing techniques for your most perfect cup.

Understanding an Espresso Machine

An espresso machine, a staple in the coffee-making arena, employs high pressure to thrust a limited quantity of hot water through tightly packed ground coffee. This procedure yields 1-2 ounces (30-60 ml) of a concentrated version of coffee, aka espresso. This high-pressure technique also forms the signature crema, a caramel-coloured, dense foam top that enhances espresso's creamy texture.

Owning an espresso machine at home invites a universe of delicious coffee beverages crafted to your preference. Specific espresso machines enable you to experiment with numerous variables and refine your method to construct your ideal espresso—be it a robust ristretto or a more leisurely lungo pull that allows you to savour your drink a bit longer.

What Can You Do with an Espresso Machine?

A typical home espresso machine can yield up to two espresso shots simultaneously. If your machine features a steam wand or milk frother, you can produce an array of café beverages from classic cappuccinos and macchiatos, to the crowd-favourite latte with its multitude of flavour options. Moreover, espresso can also be a key ingredient in recipes like mocha mousse with espresso caviar, espresso martinis, or as a flavour enhancer for savoury dishes and sauces. Get a better understanding of the different types of espresso drinks with our how-to guide.

Choosing Coffee for Your Espresso Machine

Espresso beans are often darker roasts of standard coffee beans. Staying with a dark roast will facilitate the deep flavour associated with espresso beverages. Although you can purchase espresso coffee beans, any dark roast, such as a French roast, will suffice. However, finely ground beans are a must for espresso brewing. Experiment with diverse roasts until you stumble upon a flavour profile that delights you. In the quest to brew espresso at home, the discovery of inspiring flavours is paramount.

Metal KitchenAid(R) espresso machine on counter making espresso Metal KitchenAid(R) espresso machine on counter making espresso

How does an Espresso Machine work?

Though the types of espresso machines vary, they share fundamental characteristics. They heat water to near boiling and push it through finely-ground coffee tightly packed into a portafilter basket to create a concentrated espresso "shot". To understand how these components collaborate, you should position the portafilter baskets into the portafilter, fill them with ground coffee, tamp the grounds, connect the portafilter to the grouphead, and finally select your brewing cycle settings.

espresso machine water reservoir
Water Tank/Reservoir:

A container that holds water ready to be drawn into the machine and heated. Commercial espresso machines may have a direct connection to water lines instead of a water tank.

espresso machine cup warmer
Cup Warmer:

The space on top of the espresso machine where you can preheat cups to help maintain the temperature of your brewed espresso.

espresso machine boiler

Espresso machines will feature one or two boilers to heat water for brewing and/or steam for the steam wand.

espresso machine drip tray
Drip Tray:

The surface on which your cup rests while brewing, it also collects water drips that occur once you’ve removed your cup and is usually removable so you can easily empty it.

espresso machine steam wand
Steam Wand:

Creates hot, pressurized steam to heat (or steam) milk as well as create milk foam by frothing. On some models, this doubles as a hot water spout for Americanos or brewing tea.

espresso machine group head

The area that dispenses water into your portafilter filled with coffee grounds.

espresso machine portafilter

The device that connects to the grouphead and holds your coffee grounds while brewing.

espreso machine portafilter baskets
Portafilter Baskets:

Usually available in single or double shot sizes, these removable filter baskets hold the coffee grounds within the portafilter.

espresso machine tamper

An accessory used to press (or tamp) down coffee grounds within the portafilter and create a coffee "puck.”

Black espresso machine surrounded by parts
Hand tamping espresso grounds in a portafilter Hand tamping espresso grounds in a portafilter

Using an Espresso Machine

The methodology for brewing espresso depends on the machine type. The semi-automatic espresso machine, the most popular type for home and coffee shop use, offers a general framework for brewing espresso:

Illustration of hand pressing on button for espresso machine


When making espresso at home, your machine likely features a water tank that needs filling before you begin. Once filled, switch on your machine. Most models will automatically pull water into the boiler and start heating it. Allow it to heat while you prepare your espresso beans.

 Illustration of beans in grinder and closeup of settings


Freshly ground coffee yields optimal results. Ensure your coffee beans are ground to a fine consistency, resembling a texture between sand and powder. A burr coffee grinder can assist in producing uniformly sized grounds for even extraction. Some models feature a specific espresso setting to streamline the grinding process. Learn more about types of grinders to find the best one for you.

Woman grinding coffee into a portafilter Woman grinding coffee into a portafilter

The KitchenAid® Burr Grinder, equipped with 70 precise settings and Automatic Smart Dosing Technology, automatically modifies grind time to deliver the proper volume and consistency for your selection. It also boasts a Built-In Adjustable Portafilter Holder, allowing you to grind directly into 54-mm. or 58-mm. portafilters, depending on your brewing needs.

Illustration of basket lowering into a portafilter


Choose your filter basket based on your espresso quantity. Press the Filter basket into the Portafilter until it clicks. Add finely ground coffee to the filter basket. While the exact quantity will depend on your espresso machine design and the size of your filter baskets, our quick reference chart can provide a useful guide.

Basket type


Dose (gram)

Use for

Single wall 1 shot 10 - 12 Freshly ground whole bean coffee
Single wall 2 shot 18 - 20 Freshly ground whole bean coffee
Double wall 1 shot 10 - 12 Pre-ground coffee
Double wall 2 shot 18 - 20 Pre-ground coffee
Illustration of hand tamping grounds


Level the ground coffee bed by tapping the Portafilter, then place it on a flat surface. Use a tamper to press down on the grounds within the portafilter basket. Ensure you press firmly and evenly to create a flat puck of compressed grounds, then sweep away excess coffee grounds.


Achieving a flat, consistently compressed bed of coffee grounds (known as a puck) is vital to ensure even extraction. If the coffee bed is uneven, it can cause water to channel, resulting in over-extraction where water is in contact, and under-extraction elsewhere. The KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines feature a portafilter designed with two recessed spouts for a flat base, ensuring easier, more stable tamping compared to traditional residential espresso portafilters.

Illustration of espresso machine portafilter lock icons


Align the portafilter under the group head, then raise and twist to lock it. The process will vary based on your model. KitchenAid® espresso machines offer clear unlocked and locked icons for proper alignment. It's crucial to lock the portafilter into place, ensuring a seal critical to the high-pressure extraction process.

Illustration of hand pushing brew button to pull a shot of espresso


Most semi-automatic espresso machines automate the brewing process. Simply select the number of shots and let the machine do the work. Some models allow you to control the amount of water and the preinfusion time. Others automate this but permit setting adjustments to your preference.

Hand holding pitcher of milk up to espresso machine steam wand


If creating a coffee drink with steamed or frothed milk, fill your pitcher with milk, select the steam mode (if applicable), and steam until you achieve the desired amount of foam or milk temperature.


"Dialing in" refers to adjusting grind size and amount, extraction duration, and other factors to your taste. A manual espresso machine permits nearly every factor's adjustment but demands considerable expertise and skill. A semi-automatic espresso machine allows you to control the amount of coffee, grind size, tamping, and more to create a customised flavour profile. An automatic or super-automatic espresso machine will offer limited scope to dial in your espresso but can produce ultra consistent results.

Woman pouring steamed milk into glass next to white espresso machine Woman pouring steamed milk into glass next to white espresso machine

Steaming Milk with an Espresso Machine

Espresso forms the base for most café favourites like lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas. Adding steamed milk and foam transforms a robust shot of coffee into a creamy delight with infinite variations.

Illustration of milk being poured into a pitcher


Fill a pitcher about ⅓ full with milk. You can also use plant or nut milks like almond, soy, or oat milk. You may need to experiment to achieve similar results to dairy milk, but rest assured, you can still create thick and creamy dairy-free foam.

Illustration of hand inserting steam wand into milk pitcher


Select the steam mode on your semi-automatic espresso machine to start heating the water. Once ready, submerge the steam wand tip into the milk to steam, or just below the surface to create foam.

Illustration of person steaming milk with espresso machine


Steam and froth the milk until you reach your desired level of foam and temperature, and then integrate the appropriate proportions of steamed milk, foam, and any additional flavourings to your espresso.

Certain espresso machines can automate this procedure too, removing any guesswork involved. For effortless steaming and frothing of milk to create delicious lattes, cappuccinos, and more, consider the KitchenAid® Automatic Milk Frother Attachment. It's fully compatible with the KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine.

With the added convenience of programmable dosing and a variable micro-foam adjuster, you can customise both the amount of milk and the texture to suit your taste and preference. You can purchase the milk frother attachment either separately or as part of a bundle with the espresso machine.

Unleash Your Inner Barista with the KitchenAid brand

Elevate your coffee experience and bring the café into your kitchen with the KitchenAid® Burr Coffee Grinder and KitchenAid® Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine. It's time to take your coffee brewing skills to the next level and enjoy the rich, complex flavours of homemade espresso. Try out our products today and begin your coffee journey.

Don't wait - your perfect cup of coffee is just a click away. Visit our website or a store near you and get your KitchenAid® Coffee Collection now! Discover the joy of brewing with the KitchenAid brand and make every cup a special occasion.