Whether you are a home coffee enthusiast or operate in a busy café, ensuring you get the best from your coffee and coffee equipment demands vigilance.
In no particular order; the top tips to help you get the most of your coffee and your espresso machine are:
1 Make sure your machine is clean, serviced and working correctly
Backflushing the shower disk and group head is essential to ensure that the espresso flavours are vibrant and are not tainted with stale coffee oils which can give a smokey after taste to the coffee. Use espresso machine detergent tablets or powder and follow the instructions in terms of the correct dose for each group. Overdosing detergent powder can cause the brew valve to block, so be careful.
Adhere to the recommended service interval, this will both save money in terms of catching things like water filters that require changing. It is also a chance to recalibrate the machine settings if they require adjustment and replace wear and tear parts which are vital to ensure the coffee machine is operating correctly.
2 Calibrate your grinder to ensure you get perfect coffee flavour extraction
Espresso that is brewed too fast or too slow ruins the flavour extraction. The grinder is key to regulating the flow and making sure that this is running perfectly is essential in delivering quality coffee. We have several ‘How To’ videos that demonstrate how to adjust the grinders we use. Click here to see the range of videos
3 Buy good quality coffee
Matching your coffee choice with your budget is essential; try and pick coffee that is either 100% Arabica or close to it. Not all coffee is created equally and there are still some terrible coffee beans for sale in the market. All the Watermark coffee bean blends that we sell are high grade speciality espresso Arabica.
4 Keep an eye on your measurements
Making sure that each of your coffee drinks have a balanced flavour is key here. Once you are happy that you have achieved this balance for the cup size, record and compare regularly:
- the amount of coffee being dosed from the grinder,
- the amount of water is being extracted through the espresso shot
5 Keep your beans fresh and free from oxidisatio
For the most part, coffee beans are now packed with nitrogen infusion which dramatically helps in eliminating oxidisation when the coffee beans are sealed in their bag. The real harm from oxidisation occurs when the bags are open, and the beans are sitting in the bean hopper for longer than they should. Ideally try and keep the amount of beans exposed to the air as low as possible, storing the remaining beans in an airtight container. Using a ‘grind on demand’ grinder really helps with preventing oxidisation with ground coffee.
6 Avoid overheating your milk when making cappuccino, latte and flat white
This can be a tricky one to gauge as some people like their latte made with very hot milk. In Italy, cappuccino / latte is served at about 62/63 degrees centigrade which would be largely unacceptable to most people here. I like my flat white made to about 66 to 67 degrees as it allows the coffee and milk flavours to complement each other. Avoid going over 72 degrees as the milk starts to burn at this temperature and the steamed milk loses its consistency and flavour. I usually recommend operators to gauge the temperature with their hand placed (outside) on the side of the jug as it’s being steamed and turn the wand off when it’s hot. If you’re unsure of when this is, then a milk thermometer can be useful.
7 Keep an eye on your water quality
I had a customer in Northern Scotland who used to claim that his water was the magic ingredient; his coffee did taste wonderful! As you would expect, water quality plays a large role in coffee flavour. While it can be difficult to change your mains water supply, you can invest in water filtration to ensure you are getting the best from it.
For our commercial customers I recommend that those making coffee for customers have a coffee every day from their machine and really concentrate on how it tastes. This daily routine helps identify anything that might need adjustment or attention. If you would like to find out more, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best