Manual coffee machines - common errors, tips and advice in general
My wife and I have been using our Delonghi perfecta automatic coffee machine for about five years now and it looks like it may have a terminal illness (its at the coffee machine hospital as I type this). Anyhow when we first bought it we both 'liked' coffee but in the past five years that feeling has grown into quite the love affair. With the Delonghi on the brink we are considering a manual machine for our next purchase. Having never made a coffee 'the proper' way i just have a few questions.
Just wondering what are the common mistake newbies make in the early stages of their coffee making?
How long does it take before someone new to the game start making decent coffee? (I know this is a very broad question as we are all different etc)
Generally speaking are coffee making/basic barista course worth the time/money? (obviously talking a decent course not a back yard job from someone who thinks they know what they are doing)
Thanks in advance,
Sorry if this is in the wrong section but I posted it here as that is our rough budget ($1500) so looking for advice on using machines in this category (looking at Lelit combi or Rancilio Silvia at the moment but still lots of homework to do!)
Hi Nick, I am reasonably new to this game as well but the best advise I can give you is as follows. Firstly there are a lot of free tutorials on youtube as to how to make good coffee so there is no need for expensive classes that you will walk away from only remembering 50% of. With youtube you can always go back and watch it again to find what you are doing wrong. The most important things I have found to be true is always buy your beans fresh every week, they are only good for 2 or 3 weeks max. Don't buy ground beans, grind your own beans in a good quality burr grinder, never grind any more than what you are going to use right now, once they are ground they will go rancid within minutes. Always store your beans in an airtight bag with the air squeezed out and store in a dark place. Do not store beans in the hopper on the grinder and the number one most important thing is cleanliness. You won't get good coffee from a dirty machine. Use filtered water and backlash your machine every few weeks, (depending on how much you use it). It doesn't take long before you are pulling good shots if you don't try taking short cuts. Good luck.
Welcome pastry loving fiend
For a home environment, it's not that complex really. Mistakes include old beans, underdosing, overdosing, crap grinder, poor hygiene, neglecting basic maintenance, insufficient heat up time, forgetting to prime the boiler (fill the water tank). I'm sure there's many more but they're all 'obvious' enough.
Your local distributor (unless it's a department store) should be able to run you through it. Unfortunately that might not be that local to Somerset! Buy from a sponsor here and I'm sure they will help. Each machine has its own little idiosyncrasies.
After that it's mostly a bit of trial and error, consistency in process, and asking a few more questions to who you bought the machine from (or the forum)!
A barista course would also be great just not entirely necessary.
(ahh I see someone beat me to the youtube advice!)
Last edited by WantRancilio10; 27th August 2015 at 11:19 AM.
Thanks Thackarnnga and WantRancilio10 for the tips so far! Greatly appreciated. We are in pretty good practice with ensuring our beans are fresh. We see our local roaster more often than we see some of our friends haha.
Yeah being in Somerset our choices would be pretty much beta electrical or harvey norman. With that in mind its a pretty safe bet we will end up buying online or at least heading down south to make the purchase.
I bought my kit while living interstate so I'm not sure who to recommend locally. But I can see you're already getting into the Snob 'coffee is both a journey and a destination' philosophy
Originally Posted by croissantpig
Time to start home roasting?
I like the idea but baby steps!!
Hard bit is calibrating the grinder. That is finding settings that give good coffee with a given bean. You need a timer and aim for the 30 sec shot but taste is most important. As coffee ages the grind needs to change so its an ongoing thing. And you do it for new beans, although that usually only takes a few cups to get right. Also need to learn whats wrong with a shot by the taste. Too bitter or too sour or just right. A lifetime of fiddling about ahead of you. Gets addictive.
PS If you grind too fine you can choke the machine. i.e. nothing comes out. I start coarse and grind finer until its right.
Originally Posted by croissantpig
G'day croissant overindulging friend.
Just like most things, tackling each step in order is a good idea. Also, buying locally means that you can get a replacement if it is damaged or DOA is too common at that level. Far less hassle until you get rid of your P Plates.
I could not recommend starting with a good grinder highly enough. For a beginner with limited local choice, it sounds like the old SB 480 (or 700) / Breville Smartgrinder would be a sound start - easily good enough as a base to feed a reasonable espresso machine and start tinkering. Check for bundles - both HN & BE have them every so often (A friend bought a SB 7000 bundled with a 480 for less than I paid for my 7000 by itself). After you get your skills up to scratch you can then make an informed choice and save yourself an expensive "lock in".
Example: The Silvia cannot froth milk & pull a shot at the same time. If you have your cuppa black, no big deal. If you usually do flat whites or Lattes... (I owned a Silvia for 9 years - I frothed the milk in a plunger / microwave combo - a total PITA).
Hope this helps
Almondine Addict (TampIt)