Ok, you love coffee and you are proud of your new Espresso machine – but something is going wrong. Your coffee is not as good as you wish or as you thought it would be. And you suspect it has
nothing to do with the quality of the coffee or your new Espresso machine.
Yes, it is probably you.
Well, if it is something you are doing wrong, you will probably find it in our list below. Here are 10 things you must never do while using your Espresso machine.
Getting Coffee Making Tips from People Who Know Nothing About It
True, this is an internet article too, promising to give you proven tips about coffee making, but, unfortunately, we must be honest: there is a lot of nonsense written all over the internet about everything – and coffee-making is no exception.
So, lesson number one: master the basics from someone who knows about coffee. It could be a friend, a professional barista, or a website well-known for its reliability.
Learn some basic things about dosing, brew ratios etc., all those things that can give you a head-start and buy you time, tons of effort, and will prove to be the footstep for getting better and better in the future.
Failing to Understand What Fresh Means
There is no point in getting an expensive Espresso Machine and all sorts of fancy coffee equipment, and then use coffee that is not fresh.
Even coffee beans older than 20 days are already too old for a genuinely good coffee experience. And, generally, speaking, coffee bean bags with no roast date are way older than 60 days.
Avoid that gross mistake. Use fresh beans, less than 20 days off-roast – and then make sure to store them properly. And by that, we don’t mean the fridge! If the package is nitrogen-flushed with a CO2 valve, just leave it sealed and open it only when you are ready to brew.
Not Having or Using a Scale
Never, never, never dose the coffee based on the sharpness of your eye. Never. Just don’t do it. It is a recipe for poor coffee – especially if you are not really experienced.
Just use a scale. If you don’t have a scale, get one – they are very cheap and really worth it. If you have one, just use it. Check the package for the proper weight and grams for the perfect Espresso – and stick to those instructions.
A rather common mistake, even among professional baristas: while pulling a shot, it comes out faster than usual, so you tamp harder. It does not destroy the flavour and odour, but it affects it.
Tamping should always be consistent when it comes to pressure. It is the only way to bring out the best of the coffee beans. In case the beans are a bit aged and the shot comes out faster, just grind them finer. Not too fine, not too coarse as Ewan McGregor says again and again in Black Hawk Down. You’d better listen to the man!
Poor Water Quality
Ok, we say that we drink coffee, but did you know that and Espresso has just 2% of coffee in it? The rest is water. And using water of poor quality, hard, for instance, or filled with bad-smelling chlorine and contaminants will hardly help your brewing.
Long story short, make sure the water you are using is of good quality. Avoid hard water – and damage your machine too aside from making bad coffee. If you see scale accumulating in your coffee machine, it is bad news. Ok, you could descale it, but do your best to avoid scaling in the first place.
Obviously you need to use a filter and test your water regularly, at least 3-6 months.
You Do Not Clean Regularly or Properly your Espresso Machine
Espresso machines get dirty easily, attracting dust and insects and accumulating debris. If you want to destroy both the flavour and odour of your coffee, as well as your machine, just don’t clean it. Time will do the rest.
If, on the other hand, you are a normal person and want your best from your Espresso machine, do your best to its cleaning and maintenance schedule – and do it properly too. Follow the instructions for the letter, and use the specified materials.
Use Low-Fat Milk
Ok, low-fat milk has its benefits for the body and health – and we surely need to put it in our diet as a substitute, but it affects the taste of our Espresso. If you do everything else properly and still there is something off that cannot put your finger on, then check if you are using low-fat milk.
Note, that an experienced barista can make great Espresso even with low-fat milk, or with vegan alternatives. They have so much experience, that they balance the scales with the dosing, the tamping and other stuff. But you are not there yet. If you would, you would not be reading this article now. Until you get there, avoid using low-fat milk.
Brew Ratios Are Still a Blur to You
Brew ratios are nothing less than a recipe. How can you expect to nail a certain dish without following the recipe carefully?
So, stick to the recommended brew ratio.
Not Minding Temperatures
Temperature is vital if you want your extraction to be consistent. Two or three degrees could under-extract the Espresso and make it sour.
To avoid that, flush some water first through the group-head before pulling the shot. This way you will make sure that all the parts of the machine have the same temperature! Next, allow your machine to warm up properly. Last but not least, use a pre-heated mug.
You Do the Same All Over Again
Coffee making is an art. How good of a painter could you be if you painted all the time the same thing, with the same colours and techniques, not changing anything? The answer is obvious.
The same applies to coffee. It is an art, so do not be afraid to try new things.