What is the point of setting up my espresso machine?

This is a bit like saying what’s the point of getting my car serviced or what’s the point of cleaning my house?

The point is that you want to get the very best out of what you have! Having a great piece of machinery like an espresso machine means you want to get the best out of it. After all, you wouldn’t make a cup of tea with cold water or out of date milk?!

Espresso machines work by pressurised water being forced through a puck of coffee, tamped into a filter basket, to extract the flavours and create a concentrated coffee called espresso.

It sounds simple, but many variables affect the way your coffee will taste. These include the amount of coffee used, the grind size, the freshness of the coffee and the length of time it takes to extract. When setting up an espresso machine properly, you need to get all of the elements correct for the best-tasting coffee.


espresso pouring in a sage machine


Amount of coffee

This is how much ground coffee you need in your portafilter. Too little and you’ll end up with a sloppy mess in your basket where the water has disturbed the puck. Too much and you’ll end up with a brick of coffee which the water hasn’t been able to permeate through, resulting in bitter coffee.


coffee grinding into portafilter

Grind size

This determines how big the pieces of coffee are that you put in your portafilter. If the pieces are too big, then the grind is too coarse; your water will run through the coffee too quickly, and the result is a sour-tasting coffee. This is because the coffee has been unextracted and not all the lovely flavours have come through. At the other end of the scale, if your coffee is ground too fine, then the water has a job to run through it, and your coffee will be bitter due to over-extraction.


espresso being ground



We believe that ‘Fresh is Best’; because the fresher the product, the better it tastes, and the same goes for coffee. We only roast our coffee to order so we can be sure that you are receiving the freshest coffee around. We always recommend grinding your coffee as you go, so, if you are looking for a new grinder, an on-demand grinder is perfect. If you choose to have your fresh coffee delivered pre-ground, then we recommend a little an often approach. Ground coffee is exposed to the elements, and the freshness starts to escape much faster than when in whole bean.

Extraction Time & Ratio

Depending on your espresso machine and depending on if it has a pre infuser also, extraction time should be around 20-25 seconds. The ratio for traditional espresso should be 1:2. This means that for the amount of ground coffee we use, we want twice as much in our cup.

When all of these variables are in balance, we know that your machine will produce the most amazing espresso. Once set up, you won’t need to adjust the settings majorly; just a tweak here and there over time.


espresso pouring from an espresso machine


About us

As mentioned, fresh is best. As a Two Chimps Coffee customer, you can enjoy fresh coffee every week. We hand roast speciality coffee to order and where possible we deliver your coffee by hand. Don’t worry if you are a little further afield; we use UPS and Royal Mail as our chosen couriers.


coffee beans falling out of the cooling tray


If you are looking for a new wholesale coffee supplier, we will set your espresso machine up for you.  To help you to understand the benefits of a correctly set up espresso machine – We’ll offer you an espresso that has been under-extracted, one that has been over-extracted and then one that tastes like it’s supposed to. You’ll be amazed at how small the tweaks are, to get such a difference in taste.


a shot of espresso pouring into a mug


Get the most from your coffee

We only source speciality coffee at Two Chimps Coffee, which is the highest grade coffee available. To obtain speciality status, the coffee needs to achieve a score of 80 points or higher. Coffee scoring is the grading process used to show the quality of a coffee.

We source speciality coffee for the flavour. Due to the care and attention given throughout, there are very few impurities. This means we can give the coffee a lighter roast, therefore allowing the delicate flavour to come through. If your espresso machine is set up correctly, then you will be able to taste these amazing flavours in your coffee. Commodity grade coffee, on the other hand, is often roasted dark; a roasting style which can cover up impurities. This, darker roast style can leave a coffee tasting bitter and burnt.

coffee in a cooling bin

Anything else?

Making sure we’ve got your espresso machine set up is one thing but just as important is your grinder. There are two types of commercial espresso grinder; an on-demand grinder or a chamber grinder. A chamber grinder has a hopper for your beans and also a separate chamber for your ground coffee. It allows you to grind your beans all in one go so that you have ground coffee available at the flick of a paddle. An on-demand grinder, on the other hand, holds your beans in a hopper at the top and every time you need a shot of coffee, the beans are ground fresh there and then.


tamping a portafilter



We always recommend the latter as it guarantees your coffee stays fresher for longer. Once the coffee is ground, the oxygen will get to it and start the staling process. Ground coffee kept in a sealed bag or container is fine, but at least when you grind it yourself, it is super fresh for every cup.

In summary, setting up your espresso machine is an essential part of the journey to serving awesome coffee and not a part to be overlooked.


cup of two chimps coffee on a saucer

The best tools in the world are useless without knowledge; why would an espresso machine be any different?

Join the troop and we will not only set up your espresso machine for you, but we will give you the knowledge so you can do it yourself too.



Two Chimps

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