Presso tips and references

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.

#1: Post by KScarfeBeckett »

The following isn't a complete reference library by any means but contains most of what I've found out about this nifty machine in the hope that it may be useful for other (new) Presso users too.

Please add or correct information!

The Presso is a basic and highly portable fully manual double-lever machine requiring only good ground coffee, boiling water, and a little muscle to produce espresso. Its natural partners are a conical-burr hand grinder and a kettle. Reviews vary but most find it good value. It can produce very good espresso but not the most intense ristretto style, being hard to updose or grind finely for. [See aecletec's comments below.] Promo footage often shows a weak fast flow of aqueous coffee but links below show the real thing too. The Presso design continues to evolve according to users' feedback -- the arms have already been strengthened, and a new plunger design is rumoured.

Some vital stats

• 290 X 210 X 220mm (with portafilter in)
• weighs v. roughly 1.5kg
• aluminium, heatproof plastic, silicone rubber; filter basket stainless steel; pf heavy plastic, chromed steel
• usually costs around £75-£100 ($120-$160) new; comes with scoop/tamper, milk frothing widget, divider for pouring doubles into two cups (all plastic) and basic instruction leaflet
• double filter basket only
• basket diameter 51mm (barely) with internal convex ridge; 50mm tamper fits above the ridge, 49mm tamper goes down inside
• spares available, all moving parts easily replaceable
• bottomless portafilter available on request (in UK at least)
• typical pressure produced by an unmuscular female estimated at around 5 bars, YMMV
• reservoir holds roughly 180ml if overfilled to the maximum; 'official' markings take around 50ml for a single, another 30ml for a double
• produces real crema during a normal pour -- not the densest -- but proper, coloured crema

My tips for use "as-is"

• grind slightly coarser than for other espresso machines
• easiest pre-heat procedure is, after filling and tamping the basket, to remove the pierced silicone rubber filter seal from underside of Presso, invert Presso over sink in one hand, pour boiling water in and slosh around interior, tip out over pf; then replace filter seal, upend Presso on counter, put basket in pf and pf into Presso, position glass and make shot immediately
• use immediately boiled water to make shot
• overfill Presso to around 100-120ml (jiggle arms to let air out) for sustained pressure and crema; note that if you overfill too far, you can end up with less leverage not more -- if the arms remain too high you can't get your fingers to the Presso 'legs' for added traction
• the pf only 'unwinds' during expression when coffee oils have built up in the bayonet ring -- to restore grip, clean both pf and bayonet ring using detergent and warm water
• the silicone filter seal collects coffee oils -- soak every few days in boiling water with detergent, or overnight in sodium bicarbonate solution; for ultra-persnickety cleaning, thread a large needle with quadrupled white cotton and push through the holes to strip out residue
• O-ring and cylinder also collect coffee oils -- disassemble arms, remove plunger and clean the parts every few days (takes 3-4 mins max)
• invest in extra filter baskets for lining up shots -- saves time and heat
• invest in spare O-rings, filter seals and plunger -- these are the most vulnerable parts if you really put the pressure on, but are also cheap to replace
• a drop of vinegar on a soft cloth removes hard water stains from shiny aluminium finish without damaging it

Other tips

basic official instructions

hbuchtel (including advanced repair)

pleasing visuals (concave tamper extraction; drippy, crema!) (flat tamper extraction; drippy, crema!)

More general info

FAQs etc

links to spares
US: (NB one link from main page goes to "accessories" instead)

Reviews and discussions
Extremely sour shots (Presso + Porlex) (2012, nice crema shots!)
Newbie using a presso - need help with troubleshooting shots! (general tips)
PRESSO maker...HELP NEEDED.... (early tips from hbuchtel)

Jim Schulman and the Teflon plug; June 2005
All-Clad Presso - the minimalist pour over espresso machine

old reviews at Coffee Geek: (list of all the reviews) ... nes/150265 (ongoing review, "Living with Presso" from 2007) (piston fracture) (heating tips) (dose, pre-infusion) (tampers, general tips, cleaning routine) (crema) (general enthusing and notes) (2010 update on newly strengthened arms)

miscellaneous (more on the Teflon plug; September 2005) ... 8be98ee40f

gonzob (amazing, ends up practically plumbed in; Nov 2011)

Hope this may be useful.
Bought me a coffee grinder that's the best one I could find

KScarfeBeckett (original poster)

#2: Post by KScarfeBeckett (original poster) »

... and another good one I missed:

All-Clad Presso vs. Aeropress (2008-9; more on pressure, is it really espresso, etc, from hbuchtel)

Maybe, again, the following might be interesting for Presso users: some photos of what seems to me to be its characteristic low-pressure crema, which is relatively coarse and soft, open-textured and quick to settle/dissipate.

I give details, as the bean, process and roast make a difference ... Apologies if simultaneously I expose pedantry and ignorance (as well as evidence of spritzing :D )

1. 50% medium-roast Papua New Guinea wet-processed, 50% lighter-roast Yirgacheffe washed
Extracted 60ml easily in 25s -- ground too coarse? -- refreshing, but a bit too plain-acidic overall for me (mind you, it endured 2 minutes' cooling for the photograph!), and the moderate Pap NG, though pleasantly balanced enough, doesn't seem to do much for the Yirgacheffe aroma.

Ten seconds after pouring -- you can see the coarse texture well, some large bubbles:

Image Image

After two minutes:


2. 100% light-roast Yirgacheffe ground slightly finer, which needed more pressure to extract barely 50ml in 28s -- slightly less crema but a fruitier, more distinctly blueberry-smelling, sweet-sharp espresso that I preferred. Here it is 15 seconds post-pour, showing similarly large bubbles:


And it had some baby tigering. Just to show it can be done: :wink:

Bought me a coffee grinder that's the best one I could find

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#3: Post by aecletec »

Nice work with the thread compiling!
The flexibility with grind size and water temp has made this gadget quite hard to beat at many times its price!

I suppose this is a matter of taste, but I've found the hand grinders (kym, hario mini) to be rubbish for the presso... I use a 64mm flat burr. I also overfill the presso to 200ml and find that I can grind quite fine, extracting nice concentrated ristretto shots. I have busted a piston trying for a 21g shot, however...
I tend to go for the long (e.g. ~40s) cooler shots (unheated presso with boiling water). Some impressive tiger striping can occur at high temps - I was at one stage using a silicon tube attached to the presso spout and a stove kettle to manually cycle boiling water!

KScarfeBeckett (original poster)

#4: Post by KScarfeBeckett (original poster) »

Aha, I remember the aecletec setup with the silicone tubing. It's an impressive picture somewhere in the "Newbie using a Presso" thread, and got me thinking about less elegant ways to heat the body.

And hmm, those hints for ristrettos and updosing are interesting (broke a piston earlier this year on a higher dose, perhaps have gone too far the other way.) First post edited to take account.

Recently I was HBed into getting a Pharos which I'm still in love with. What's the flavour difference between flat and conical burrs for you? And how do you get 200ml into the Presso? -- I think I'd need to beef up a little before I could express that. Argh, now I want to make a coffee but it's too late in the day.

Show us some tiger stripes then :)
Bought me a coffee grinder that's the best one I could find

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#5: Post by aecletec »

The flavour difference for me was related to how poorly adjustable the mini mill was... But even when dose and grind seemed somewhat appropriate given flow the shots were exceedingly bitter - I assume due to burr wobble and inconsistency of grind (visible).
My kym had similar burr wobble problems as it's just wood and thin metal... A spring helped, though. Perhaps I'm just using lighter roasts than they were designed for...

I may have to decline to get a photo of marked mottling as "good looking" espresso is not necessarily good tasting espresso!

KScarfeBeckett (original poster)

#6: Post by KScarfeBeckett (original poster) »

After a few days of tinkering with Pharos grind and dose, water temperature and a new seal, I agree that the Presso can produce a ristretto. Perhaps I never found the right point on the old grinder, or its grind size was too variable, or perhaps the new fitness regime is paying off in a couple extra bars' pressure exertable :D

More to learn.
Bought me a coffee grinder that's the best one I could find

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#7: Post by aecletec »

I really enjoy playing with mine too ;)
Here's a happy snap of shot I took on my phone (30/09/12)... unfortunately it had sat there for a while as my phone wasn't at hand - I was just going to drink it until I remembered this thread! (and then forgot about uploading for a few weeks!!)


#8: Post by kc2dpt »

Here's my technique (so far, as I'm always tweaking and experimenting).

Basket and portafilter sit in water kettle while the water is heated. At some point during the grinding process, these are removed from the water and dried, and some hot water is poured into the cup which will hold the espresso. Then...

14g of beans into the grinder.
Grinder set to 6 clicks and beans ground.
Dixie cup with the bottom cut off set into basket.
Grounds dumped into dixie cup/basket combo.
Grounds stirred up with a bent paperclip, breaking up clumps and distributing evenly.
Cup pulled out.
Tamped with 49mm flat, fairly firm.

Water is brought to a boil and then poured into the reservoir to almost the top. The piston is raised completely and the water allowed to sit on the grinds for 20 seconds. Levers are pulled with a lot of pressure, but not as much as possible (I've broken a lever when pulling as hard as I can). I always pull until blonding. Trial and error has gotten me to where this results in 2oz of espresso in 25 to 35 seconds. My shots the last few days have been 25 to 29 seconds. Usually the flow slows around 18 - 20 seconds and I raise and pull the levers a second time to keep up the pressure.

After drinking the shot, I pull the rest of the water through the grinds into a cup. This makes for a nice, dry puck and easy cleanup.

I always get great color and crema. The distinct flavors of whatever bean I'm using comes through clearly. The cup is consistent from first to last sip. I'm curious at others saying they use as much as 19g of beans. I'll try that soon and note the differences.


#9: Post by Gillingham »

Just posting this as a warning to others about how gasket failures can go pretty bad with the presso.

I was pulling a shot as normal with about a quarter of an oz of espresso was pulled through and I was continuing to apply pressure to the arms the piston gasket failed, this caused boiling hot water to shoot up through it and onto my neck and chest resulting in 1st degree burns. I was very lucky it did not manage to get onto my face or eyes.

I know on the newer model the plunger/piston and arms even stronger so if the same gasket fails while applying even more pressure than I was this kind of failure can result in even greater injury.

The gasket on the plunger now will not hold water at all when pushing down on the arms, water just bubbles up back on top of the piston.