The following is my process for producing espresso with the ECMP10.
Fill up the ECMP10 with water. Filtered, Fresh, GOOD TASTING water. If you cannot drink your water straight from the tap, do not use it in your espresso machine. The same bad taste will appear in your coffee drink.
This espresso machine MUST be preheated in order to extract correctly, like any other professional espresso machine. I have not done so yet, but I am considering an electrical appliance timer ($7-$14) to have the ECMP10 espresso machine preheated 30min -1 hour before I use it in the morning.
First, I STEAM some water in a cup to bleed and heat the machine for 45-60sec.
After the machine is warm I pull a blank shot to heat/ clean the group head which also heats the porta filter (not the porta filter basket).
I grind with an ESPRESSO FINE setting, 14 - 16 grams of beans into the 52-53mm double filter basket supplied with the unit. I use the supplied plastic tamper to lightly polish the grounds. (DO NOT apply 30lb of pressure! Its not necessary and it will break your tamper.) If water is rushing through your basket, grind finer, donít tamp with force. If you are grinding fine and the water rushes through your basket you are tamping TOO hard. Grinding beans for your machine is trial & error. You must search for the fine grind setting, the correct (VERY low force) tamp pressure, and the desired espresso taste. There are no easy shortcuts here due to humidity, the grinder, the tamping pressure, and the espresso machine. However, once you find the correct grind setting and mastered the right tamp, making slight adjustments for humidity is easy.
The word "Tamper" gives connotations that you must forcefully apply pressure to the coffee grinds to achieve a good compaction. When in fact a "Tamper" for espresso/coffee, is really designed to polish. (That is why a plastic tamper is supplied with professional espresso machines.)***Note, I have only seen one metal tamper in Europe and it was $10 dollar aluminum replacement. ***
With a HOT machine and a filter basket filled with FRESH grounds, I pull 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of THICK CREMA containing espresso in a time period of 25-30 seconds. (YES, I do use a scoop to measure 14 - 16 grams of coffee, I do use a graduated glass container for the espresso extraction when creating a cappuccino/ latte, and I do use the timer on my Timex wristwatch to time the extraction period.)
For a cappuccino/ latte I froth, more importantly STRETCH 1 1/2 to 2 cups of nonfat milk, to a temp of 145-155 degrees f (temperature used by a local StarBucks). If you are seeing ANY visable bubbles during frothing you are not frothing correctly, and you will not create the best Latte possible. If your frothed milk seems soggy, you did not bleed the frothing wand and a considerable amount of water is mixing with your milk. (**VERY IMPORTANT Steam the milk last prepare the espresso first, otherwise the espresso machine develops too much pressure. This is especially important if you are preparing multiple Lattes at one time. Also steamed milk must be poured at once, it cannot sit in the pitcher.** )(YES, I do use a thermometer and a stainless steel frothing pitcher. If I want a better tasting cappuccino/ latte I use FRESH WHOLE MILK instead of NONFAT)
In conclusion, if you are going to entertain your guests with espresso on a regular basis, look into a $700+ machine you will be happier especially with an "HX" (heat exchange machine). ''HX" machines will allow you to create espresso and froth milk at the same time. You might also consider a machine that can be plumbed so you donít have to keep refilling the water reservoir.
If you want an adequate machine to prepare espresso and espresso related drinks at home for personal use, you might consider ECMP10 Mr Coffee machine. It is not likely you will be able to create "God Shots" but this machine does produce a palatable Espresso. It is especially a good value if you can find it for $29-$50. For the Crema, Espresso, and Froth, produced versus the cost of the machine it rates a "10" on my product scale.