My Home Coffee Setup A starters guide to home espresso
More and more people are paying attention to creating a higher quality coffee at home. A general increase of interest in high quality coffee paired with an ongoing growth in people working from home has led to home brewing being an integral part of people’s lives.
Filter brewing methods were the first on the rise, due impart to reasonably priced equipment and tools. Now, with the coming of more sophisticated but also more affordable home espresso machines, espresso is following suit.
Up until recently I only brewed filter coffee at home using either my chemex, kalita or aeropress. I also own a consistent hand-grinder but in all honesty, it takes too much time for me. Instead I’ve found myself using a generic single button-grinder that really doesn’t do justice to the beautiful coffees I like buying. Thanks to Sage however, I now have an on-demand, high quality and consistent grinder with which I can easily adjust coarseness and is a lot quicker!
Although I really enjoy making and drinking filter coffee, my personal passion lies with espresso-based drinks. I have worked many years on improving my professional barista skills working in coffee bars in both Amsterdam and Sydney and recently I have opened my very own coffee bar ‘BLUEY’S Coffee & Kitchen’ in the east of Amsterdam. As I was learning and improving my coffee skills, the dream of owning my own home espresso setup grew. The idea of being able to bring my passion home really stuck with me over the years for many reasons. One of them being to be able to create and drink café worthy coffee in the comfort of my own home. But also, to get the chance to explore the intricacies of coffee through different origins, roasters, recipes and so much more. A little less obvious reason, but an important one for me is the creation of a small coffee content studio, a space where I can work on beautiful coffee content.
Due to the seemingly high investment in a good home espresso machine combined with a quality grinder this has always felt like a distant dream. Considering I was putting all my savings towards starting up Espressionals and later BLUEY’S I didn’t yet have the chance to allocate the resources that go into setting up a home espresso bar.
A while ago I had the chance to play around with a Sage Appliances espresso machine at STOOKER Specialty Coffee. After which I have strongly recommended Sage Appliances machines to friends interested in brewing a high-quality espresso at home. It was a no brainer for me when the people at Sage approached me for a very exciting collab! Sage presented me with the opportunity to create an amazing barista setup at home. I even got to choose my machine! I decided to go with their manual Dual Boiler machine with a separate grinder (the Smart Grinder Pro), because I found that the most compatible with the way I work with coffee in my daily life.
I now have the home espresso setup that I have dreamt of for so long!
I’m writing this blog basically as an ode to home brewing mixed with a guide of setting up my Sage Dual Boiler machine and dialing in my first espresso with the Smart Grinder Pro. So far, I am personally very impressed with the machine, as it is affordable but has most of the features a professional would look for. One of which a constant 9 bar pressure when pulling a shot!
Tools & materials
I chose the Dual Boiler machine with a separate grinder because I felt I would use a similar setup professionally. Having a separate grinder provides me with more flexibility to change the grind, to change between beans and blends or switch between filter and espresso-based coffee.
To complete my set-up, I also bought a small knock box and my partner gave me some Rhinowhares tools for my birthday; a 350cl milk jug and some micro-fiber barista cloths, for the professional touch.
For a complete home espresso setup this is what you’ll need:
- Espresso machine
- Espresso grinder
- Precision scales
- Knock box
- Milk jug for one and two cups
- Two micro-fiber cloths
- Cleaning cloth for portafilter
- Paint brush for excess grounds
Setting it up
To set up my Sage Dual Boiler machine and Smart Grinder Pro, I used BLUEY’S house espresso (Reko, a washed Yiracheffe, Ethiopia roasted by Stooker), because I know this espresso through and through. Knowing your espresso can help when installing your machine and setting basic recipes; you will know what to look for. I used BLUEY’S recipe and started from there: 19 grams of ground coffee, 40 grams of espresso at 28 seconds.
I found out quickly that the factory settings of the machine are set at a very long pre-infusion (pre-wetting the grounds before extracting at 9 bars of pressure) which resulted in an unpleasant acidity and a very dry finish. So, one of the first things I did was shorten the pre-infusion time to 4 seconds following the user manual instructions, resulting in a much rounder and sweeter cup.
I personally prefer to make espressos measuring the yield and ending shots manually, so I haven’t installed a fixed yield but this machine allows you to do so if you desire. If you do have a favorite coffee it can work to pre-install your yield!
Coffee aromas are quick to vaporize, so for a consistently good brew an on-demand grinder is key. As for the Smart Grinder Pro, I found that changing the coarseness of my coffee grounds is super intuitive. I found 18 seconds (for 19 grams) at 6 was right for my espresso. However other coffees I’ve tried required a finer grind size so there is some room to play with and go finer if needed. Depending on the coffee, it may be required to go even finer, which happened when I was experimenting with a few different coffees. Initially I couldn’t go finer but after recalibrating the grinder following the easy to understand user’s manual I managed to get the results I was after.
To summarize my findings so far and provide a quick-guide to setting up your own equipment here are a few basic steps and parameters to get your espresso right.
- Set your pre infusion time to max 4 seconds following the user manual’s instructions
- Use a basic recipe as your starting point:
- Dose: 18-22 gr of ground coffee in your basket (I started with 19)
- Yield: 30-45 ml of coffee in your cup (I started with 40)
- Extraction time: 25-30 seconds (I started with 28)
- Tweak your recipes based on your coffee beans and personal preferences
- Weigh your coffee grounds and espresso every time for the best results
As a concept creator I’ve always been a sucker for aesthetics and bar-styling, even at home. It took me a while to find the right corner in our house that offers enough natural light and color but I have now, creating a very pleasing result. Besides, I now have a purpose for all the quirky ceramics I’ve gathered over the years.
I absolutely cannot wait to explore different coffees, recipes and shoot some cool content from my very own home coffee bar!
| Client: Stewart & Sally | Delivered: Food concept | Espressionals: Loeki Stewart & Sally was founded by chef Rutger Slomp, who aimed to fill the gap between fastfood and casual dining by providing a fresh meal for any time of the day. With Stewart &...