Coffee Brewing Guide

Coffee Basics

Get the most from your coffee with our espresso, plunger and filter guides

Grind size

Using a good quality burr grinder will let you get a very consistent grind. In essense, once you’ve ground your coffee you want all the small coffee particles exactly the same size. If you’re getting some large bits with some pulverized coffee dust, you’re going to get underextracted and overextracted coffee (common with spice grinders which smash the beans with a blade). Also, its important to use the right size grind for the right extraction method. Plunger and french press – use a coarse grind. Espresso – use a fine grind.


You should generally adjust the grind depending on how long your are brewing your coffee for. Short time = fine grind. Long time = coarse grind. Espresso means ‘fast’ in Italian so you use a fine grind and extract your coffee in about 22-30 seconds. When you’re making plunger coffee, you use a coarse grind and it takes about 3-5minutes for a strong flavour to develop. Obvisouly, it depends what extraction method you’re using, but in a nutshell: too short a time and your coffee will not have a strong enough taste. Too long a time and your coffee will start to taste bitter or burnt.


Dosage referes to the mass or weight of coffee you use in each brewing. Grab some cheap scales or try to use a consistent measurement everytime so that the amount of coffee you’re using is the same. This is especially important when packing your grind into your basket when using an espresso machine.

Water Temperature

DO NOT USE 100oC water. Try to take the edge off your boiling water and aim for 92 to 94 degrees celcius. Buy one of our thermometers or alternatively, wait a few minutes before using water out of your jug. Preheating your cups and brewing equipment is important to prevent excessive temperature loss during and after brewing.


When using an espresso machine, quite a lot of pressure should be applied when compressing your grind into the basket. Consult a barista for a demonstation. Remember, do not tamp when using mocha pots / Italian stovetop.


Always use freshly roasted coffee. Most coffee can be used approximately 4-8 days from the roast date. Roasted coffee needs this time for the volatile oils to settle and the gases to expire. Try to use your coffee within 4 weeks from roast date as a rough guide. It won’t spoil necessarily but it will continue to loose some flavour, especially the top notes.


Make sure you use clean water and strip any old oils from your equipment regularly. If your coffee starts to taste like a coal-fired steam train, wash your equipment in hot water or use a coffee appropriate degreazer to strip these oils away and prevent them from tainting your coffee.


This is a great video from one of Melbourne’s best coffee houses Proud Mary’s.

Espresso Machine

The is very dependent on your machine as all machines are quite different. Check your machine guide or get a professional to demonstrate how to use it. All Sunbeam machine purchases include a training session at the Sunbeam school. We definitely recommend you attend on of these unless you already know what you’re doing.


Another Proud Mary’s video link


If you don’t wish to commit to buying an espresso machine but want cafe quality coffee at home – the stovetop is for you. It is a traditional brewing method invented by the Italians many years ago.

  1. Start with a clean stovetop, to clean – use a brush and a small amount of dishwashing detergent in a sink of warm-hot water to remove any build up of oils which may contribute to a bitter cup of espresso.
  2. Once rinsed and dried from cleaning, fill the bottom base with fresh filtered water (room temperature) up to the valve.
  3. Place the filter insert into the base and fill with medium ground coffee to the rim. Press very gently to compact any uneven distribution of the grounds and wipe the edge of the filter with a cloth to remove any loose grounds. Do NOT TAMP!
  4. Screw the top half (brewing chamber) onto the base firmly but not too tight!
  5. Place on medium heat, the coffee will begin to extract through the spouts after about 4 minutes or less. As soon as the extraction becomes light and runny turn off the gas and wait for the extraction to stop.
  6. Pour 30ml of the espresso into pre-warmed cups and add freshly textured milk if desired. Pour slowly into espresso base!



Always use cold milk. Fill your jug with milk to just where the spout mark on the inside of the jug starts i.e. about 3/4 of the way up the jug. Your steam spout will have a number of holes with which the steam can escape. Sometimes people like to change this up depending on the size of jug they are using, but with correct technique you can get away with using whatever.

Turn on the steam – let any water escape before putting the steam wand into your milk. Lift the wand so its just below the surface of the milk and get some bubbles happening. Too deep and nothing will happen and too shallow and the bubbles will be too big. You want a some fine bubbles being created.

Do this for about 20-30 seconds before lowering the wand all the way into the jug so its nearly at the botton. Angle the wand in a way so that the milk is swirling around in a circle. The bubbles you created before will start to emulsify into the rest of the milk. Place your spare hand on the botton of the jug and feel the temperature of the jug increase.

After about 1 minute you will notice the sound of the steaming milk lower significantly when this occurs, your milk is pretty much perfect so shut off the steam. Wait until the steam has completely stopped before removing the wand from the jug.

Gently tap the jug on your bench to remove any large bubbles from the surface. Gently swirl the foam on top until it gets glossy. Pour into your espresso shot and enjoy.


There are many alternatives to texturing or ‘frothing’ your milk on an espresso machine, many of which produce an undesired ‘ Mt. Everest’ like foam perfect for 1980′s Cappuccinos! (Not to be confused with the new Mt. Everest Specialty Coffee!)

If you want to achieve silky cafe style milk at home or when an Espresso Machine isn’t available try using a plunger.

Simply warm milk to around 60-65 degrees either on the stove OR in the Microwave (constantly stop/start to ensure you don’t burn the milk). If the milk develops a coating or ‘skin’ it means that the milk is burnt and as a result will have a sour taste. Ensure that the milk is not heated to this stage!

Once warmed, add the milk into a Coffee/Tea Brewing Plunger and Press/Pull the Plunger Filter Up/Down Several times until the desires consistency is achieved. For best results we recommend removing the plunger glass from the silver external frame and swirling on the bench (as well as tapping out any bubbles) to bind the milk and froth together.