Turn on your machine and give it plenty of time to heat up. Depending on the size of your machine, this could take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. Make sure you are patient – allow the machine to find its sweet spot.
Grind a few beans to check for fineness and purge your grinder of stale grounds. The coffee should clump loosely and appear powdery, but should still feel gritty.
Put an empty portafilter in the grouphead and run the machine for a few seconds bringing fresh water to the front, heating up the parts that get closest to your coffee.
Weigh 14-18g of freshly ground coffee into the portafilter. Tap it on the table, then use your forefinger to level the grounds and fill in any air pockets.
Tamp firmly and forcefully, focusing on pressing evenly. Use your fingertips to feel the edge of the basket inspecting the dry puck so the bed is level.
Return the portafilter to the grouphead and begin brewing. You should be aiming to brew a single shot in 19 seconds.
Make sure that the espresso is perfect before serving. The crema should be golden brown and should be retained on top of the espresso for at least a minute.
If the crema has tiger like markings it has been over extracted so coarsen the grind a little. If the crema dissipates quickly your espresso has been under extracted so grind a little finer.