Turning a bad morning espresso into an Irish coffee is one way to help grind through the day because, hey, it’s 5pm somewhere. But coffee machines are now a common staple in many homes, frothing with useful features to give you a better shot at brewing the perfect coffee at home.
To help you avoid bitter disappointment, we reached out to De’Longhi’s product training expert Cheryl Bosworth to spill the beans on how we can all make the most of our coffee machines. According to her, making the perfect coffee is all about managing the parameters of grind, dose, and temperature; as well as making sure no ‘negative flavours’ enter the cup. This could be due to a dirty filter basket or stale coffee beans.
She said: “These parameters should suit the coffee you are using but the only true way to really know if you have the best coffee is to taste and experiment. Our taste is very personal, so it’s always important to look at the crema, time the pour, smell for a pleasant aroma, and if it tastes good to you, then you know you are on the right track.
“If you don’t like the taste think why and try to relate that to one of the parameters. For example, if it’s weak and watery this usually relates to a coffee that is pouring too fast and you may need to adjust the grind finer or add more coffee grounds to the dose.”
5 ways to make great coffee at home
Not sure whether your drink is burnt or if you’re just not a fan of long black coffee? We’ve bean there. Here are a few ways you can get the best out of your coffee machine at home:
- Use fresh beans
- Grind your own beans
- Regularly clean your coffee machine
- Take time to try different coffee machine settings
- Use cold milk
Use fresh beans
The secret to great tasting coffee is using freshly roasted and correctly stored beans, according to Ms Bosworth, regardless of whether you’re using a fully-automatic or manual machine.
“Freshly roasted beans are a must. If you are using beans that have been open too long or are months past their roasting date, you just aren’t going to get the best intense flavours,” she says.
Grind your own beans
The De’Longhi product training expert believes grinding your own coffee beans allows most of the aroma that’s inside the beans to actually make it into your cup. The process also apparently gives you more CO2, compared to pre-ground beans, which helps create a thicker crème on top of your espresso.
“It’s important to make sure your grinder is set to the right grinding size: particles that are too fine will lead to a slow, over-extracted shot that tastes bitter and burnt, while particles that are too coarse will result in an under-extracted shot that is weak, watery and tastes sour,” Ms Bosworth explains.
Frequently clean your coffee machine
There are a couple of things to avoid when brewing coffee at home and having a dirty machine tops the list. Ms Bosworth said that not regularly maintaining your coffee machine leads to a build-up of milk and coffee, which can cause the unpleasant burnt taste. That’s why it’s important to get into the habit of cleaning the filter basket every time you make a fresh new cuppa, and essentially make sure the machine doesn’t contain used or leftover coffee to affect the new batch.
Take time to try different coffee machine settings
All good things are worth the wait, and this is especially true for good coffee. Ms Bosworth recommends experimenting with one setting at a time and avoid trying to change too much at once. “Take the time to think about how the coffee tastes and what you might change,” she says.
“My biggest tip when changing the grind, dose or temperature to find the perfect parameters is to not change them all at once. Choose one to move and keep the others solid, so that you have consistency.”
Use cold milk
Need to use dairy-free alternatives? Well, Ms Bosworth reveals the trick to creating microfoam when you’re drinking plant-based milk is to make sure the milk is cold. “Shake the milk really well to incorporate all the properties so that the texturing can occur,” she says.
What’s the difference between coffee beans?
Did you know that the same bag of coffee beans from your supermarket or local café can produce a slightly different taste when you use it in your espresso machine versus when you use a French press? Flavour typically varies depending on factors like:
- Coffee origin
- Whether the beans are processed as a single origin or mixed to create a new blend
- How the beans are roasted
- Brewing method
“There are different beans of origin that will all taste different, that can be blended together or kept as a single origin and then roasted to different levels to suit different brewing methods or flavours you want,” explained Ms Bosworth.
“The difference here is essentially the taste and the best way to know if you might like a blend is to look at the tasting notes for familiar flavours that you know you might like.”
What are the different types of coffee machines?
Need a cappuccino faster than you can say ‘drive-through’? Or are you willing to wait a little longer to get exactly what you want? There are several types of coffee machines to choose from, but what’s best for you ultimately comes down to how involved you want to be with the coffee-making process.
What type of coffee machine is best?
Don’t know which type of coffee machine to pick? Here’s what De’Longhi’s product training expert recommends:
“If you want something with no fuss and made to perfection each time an automatic machine is for you, whereas if you have experience in making coffee (or want to gain experience and are happy to experiment with all the settings) and like to enjoy the journey to a perfect cup of coffee, a manual machine is a good option,” she says.
“If you are new to the coffee-making scene, a capsule machine is a nice entry-level machine for ultimate convenience and ability to taste different blends with no effort.”
Picture credits: De’Longhi, AnemStyle/Shutterstock.com, Stockcreations/Shutterstock.com, Melica/Shutterstock.com.