If your morning espresso isn’t quite up to par, one of these simple steps will help you make your coffee even better.
Sales of coffee machines exploded last year as many of us stayed home during the pandemic and swapped our usual coffee caffeine creation for a cup of homemade coffee. Retailer Currys PC World even reported that a coffee machine was sold every minute in August last summer.
But, almost a year later and three lockups later, if you’re struggling to get a perfect espresso out of your machine, the answer might be as simple as rereading the instructions that came with it.
Many of us, in the excitement of testing out a new machine, have read the manufacturer’s recommendations, missing out on the finer details that can help take a morning brew from bland to barista-quality.
We’ve rounded up some easy-to-miss tips from the coffee machine instruction manuals we recently tested, to help you improve your coffee-making skills.
Check out our coffee machine buying guide and make sure you get the best coffee machine for your home.
1. Use a cold cup
The temperature of espresso is a hot topic. If you’re the type of person who grabs a cold mug and puts your espresso in it as quickly as possible, then hold back the fire. To improve your daily brew and prevent it from cooling down too quickly, first reheat your cup of coffee.
Some coffee machines are equipped with a cup warmer specially designed for this purpose, but this functionality is not essential. Use the hot water created when you prime your machine, ready for the first use of the day, to warm up your cup of coffee before brewing your espresso. Or just warm it up with hot tap water. Not only will it help improve the temperature, but it can also help improve the taste.
2. Use tap waterâ¦
â¦ Without checking the instructions first. While using tap water is perfectly acceptable in most cases, the instructions with the Krups Evidence One state that the quality of your tap water will affect the taste, as lime and chlorine can affect the taste. an espresso.
As annoying as it may sound, a quick check of the instructions will also reveal whether or not you should use a water filter with your machine, for the best quality espresso.
The instructions for the Swan Retro coffee machine go so far as to advise you to use bottled water if your water supply is prone to lime formation.
And some bean machines have a water hardness setting, so if yours has one, make sure it’s set. To avoid problems caused by lime build-up, descale your coffee machine regularly.
Our coffee machine reviews will tell you if descaling is a particularly long process, or if it’s quick and easy to do. So there is no excuse.
3. Use any old ground coffee
The fineness of the coffee grind you use can affect the strength of the flavor and the creaminess of your espresso. Espresso machines generally required a finer grind of coffee than a coffee maker or filter coffee machine.
The instructions for the Breville Barista Mini VCF125 state that grinding too coarse can cause under-extraction, leading to acidic or watery espresso, while grinding too fine can lead to bitter, grainy coffee.
Avoid using old or open ground coffee for a while, as this can also affect the quality and taste of your coffee.
4. Use any old bean
Krups and Siemens both warn against using oily or caramelized coffee beans in a bean machine, as they can potentially damage the grinder and your machine. Greasy grains can also get stuck in the bean hopper.
Some machines caution against using green or unroasted beans, so if you prefer to use something a little different from more common coffee beans, it may be best to use a dedicated coffee grinder which can be used. easier to clean.
Need a good coffee grinder? Check out the best coffee grinders of 2021 and get expert advice on how to keep ground coffee fresh.
5. Do not clean the steam pipe or the milk system of your machine.
A steam pipe or milk system is used to create wonderfully creamy cappuccinos or lattes, but be sure to spend a little more time cleaning them up after use. Most coffee machines advise cleaning and purging the milk hose or system each time you use them, to avoid a residue or milk build-up.
If left, a buildup of sludge will affect the quality of the milk froth for subsequent drinks. Some machines have an automatic cleaning program that will do this for you, while others only have a button to press to circulate steam or hot water through the hose.
At the very least, make sure you have a clean rag handy to quickly wipe down your machine’s hose and run some steam through it.
Find out everything you need to know about cleaning your coffee machine, to keep it in top condition and running longer.
Our latest opinions on coffee machines
Ready to make the perfect coffee? We’ve selected three of our latest coffee machine reviews, giving you the details of each machine.
But will these sleek kitchen gadgets make the best brew, or will you end up with a bland espresso or a flat cappuccino?
The links below will take you to our full test reviews to find out before you buy.
Breville Barista Mini VCF125 coffee machine, Â£ 315
Type: Ground coffee
The Breville Mini is a smaller, less sophisticated version of the Breville Barista Max VCF126. There is no built-in bean grinder, but this sleek-looking traditional coffee machine has a simple control panel and a steam nozzle for frothing milk. It has a pre-infusion system designed to gently extract all the flavor from the ground coffee.
Breville says the larger 58mm machine is similar to those used in coffee shops, and means you’ll get better coffee from improved extraction and even water flow through the ground coffee. This machine can prepare two cups of espresso at the same time.
Can he deliver decent coffee, quickly and easily?
Read our Breville Barista Mini review.
DeLonghi ECAM250.33TB Magnifica S smart coffee machine, Â£ 450
Type: From bean to cup
Don’t be fooled by the word Smart in the name; this coffee machine does not have wi-fi connectivity – although it is smart in that it allows you to tailor the grind and aroma of your drinks. It comes with an adjustable bean grinder, for the freshest brew, and has four one-touch buttons that will dispense one or two cups of espresso, a single coffee or a long coffee (lungo). It also has a manually operated steam wand for frothing milk.
It’s a big, heavy coffee machine, but will you be rewarded with well-balanced espresso and smooth cappuccinos at the touch of a button?
Read our DeLonghi ECAM250.33TB Magnifica S Smart review.
Lavazza A Modo Mio Smeg coffee machine, Â£ 199
This retro-looking pod coffee machine with its shiny chrome exterior will easily spruce up your kitchen. Its simple control panel adds to its sleek look and it’s also compact, so it won’t take up a lot of space on your counter.
There is no steam hose on this machine, so if you’re a fan of cappuccinos or lattes, you’ll need to purchase a dedicated milk frother to create them. This machine uses Lavazza coffee pods which are convenient, but not the cheapest or most environmentally friendly way to enjoy espresso.
Is this coffee machine as easy to use as it looks and will it make espresso as good as it looks?
Read our review of Lavazza A Modo Mio Smeg.
All prices correct at time of posting. Prices may change.