Taking the time to properly pack an espresso shot is an important (and super simple) part of making a good espresso drink. I was lucky enough to have Joe Speicher and Mark Wickens from the online coffee culture publication Ground to Grounds stop by and show me the ropes.
What you'll need:
*Learn how to choose coffee beans here.
Refer to your grinder's manual for its espresso grind setting. You may find that you need to adjust this up or down as you get more familiar with what you look for in a good shot and the type of beans you're using, as the size of the grounds affects the quality of the shot.
As you fill (or dose) the basket of the porta-filter (the metal insert with the holes in it that gets filled with grounds), try to evenly distribute the grounds inside.
Fill it until a small mountain peak has formed.
If you don't have a grinder that allows you to fill the basket this way, try to approximate this by adding small spoonfuls until you've created the same mountain peak formation.