In our experience, 9 out of 10 home baristas are buying the wrong machine for the coffee they prefer to drink. Are you one of them?
We’re committed to building a nation of home baristas and that includes providing solid advice about coffee making equipment and tools.
Many of our customers prefer a strong brew that’s not too bitter. If creating your preferred taste is a problem for you, are you sure your coffee machine is suitable for the job?
Three types of coffee machine
In general, coffee machines come in three types: bean-to-cup, traditional and capsule. Each has its benefits and drawbacks.
We will ignore capsule machines for the time being and focus on the other two options.
Bean-to-cup machines offer convenience which is a big draw to business owners and other busy people. They are also eco-friendly, which is something close to our hearts.
However, they need frequent cleaning and won’t last as long as a traditional espresso machine of the equivalent price. You will also find it harder to customise the coffee to your taste. If you’ve tried different beans and just can’t get the quality cup of coffee you expect, chances are you need a traditional espresso machine.
With a traditional machine, a portafilter (group handle) provides a larger surface area during infusion, improving the extraction process. By grinding your own coffee (we recommend home baristas use a separate burr grinder), you also have more room for experimenting to find the taste that suits you.
A good quality traditional machine will also be more reliable and have a longer lifespan than a bean-to-cup machine.
Other factors that can spoil your coffee
If you’re happy that the quality and type of bean is correct for your palate, here are some other reasons the taste may be off.
Whatever type of coffee machine you have will need regular cleaning. Read our article on looking after your coffee machine for more information.
Your water should be between 91 and 96 degrees but the specific temperature can come down to taste. A weak, sour brew suggests that the coffee is under-extracted and that can be because the water is not hot enough. If your coffee tastes burnt, a high temperature is often the cause.
It is often better to invest in a separate grinder to give you more control over grind size and consistency. Blade-type grinders chop rather than grind the bean so burr grinders are usually better.
Grind size affects how quickly the coffee is extracted and hence the balance between the bright flavours extracted early in the process and the deep notes extracted later.
If you find your coffee is sour and acidic, you can either set your machine to extract for longer or use a finer grind size. If your coffee is bitter, a coarser grind or shorter extraction time will help.
Here is where the skill of the home barista comes in. Applying the perfect pressure for your grind on a consistent basis is something which comes from experimentation and practice.
All of the above are more easily controlled with a traditional espresso machine set-up in your home.
In most cases, only a traditional espresso machine will give you the control you need to produce the coffee you like to drink. Browse our range of coffee machines or contact us for advice.