Nowadays you don't have to be an espresso expert nor have received training on a traditional espresso machine to make great tasting coffee. With the invention of the so called "bean to cup" espresso machine it is now much easier to produce all your favourite coffee variations at the touch of a button. Most bean to cup machines have in-built milk frothers too, enabling cappuccino, latte and other milky products to be made with ease. However although the convenience and ease-of-use of today's push- button bean-to-cup systems means it is even easier to produce perfect espresso, it still pays to follow these simple rules. 1/ Grind is key.
The time it takes to make an espresso with an automatic bean-to-cup system may vary, so your best indication that all is well lies in the appearance and consistency of the crema. If the crema looks pale and thin, you need to decrease the grind size to enable better extraction. (See the model instruction manual on how to do this).
Once this is set you probably won't have to change this again unless you change the type of coffee bean used. 2/ Cleanliness. It is important that you clean your system regularly using recommended bean-to-cup cleaning tablets and solutions and following the automatic cleaning procedure as directed in the user manual. This is absolutely vital as you will not get great tasting espresso from a dirty machine! A sure sign your machine needs cleaning is a bitter taste and an oily film on top of the coffee.
3/ Bean quality. Always invest in good quality beans. Be wary of cheap blends, which may contain added vegetable oils and liquids to increase the coffee weight - these will clog your machine and give flat oily coffee. If your machine does not have an automatic frother then follow the tips below.
Tips on foaming milk by hand 1. First pour very cold semi-skimmed milk into a stainless steel jug either with straight sides or sloping inwards towards the top. 2. To steam the milk, insert the steam nozzle to nearly the bottom of the jug, open the steam valve fully and rotate the nozzle around in the milk for 5-8 seconds. The bottom of the milk jug should start to feel warm to the touch. 3.
Lower the jug until the nozzle is just below the milk surface; when the surface just begins to froth, place the nozzle slightly lower in the milk to one side of the jug, and turn the steam down. The milk will start to 'roll', a deep purring sound signifies the milk is steaming, and a few seconds is all that is needed for the milk to rise in volume. 4. When fine smooth foam has just formed, close the steam valve and put the jug aside until ready to use.
Always take care to stop frothing before big airy bubbles form - if visible then bang the bottom of the jug several times on any hard surface to 'knock out' the air. 5. Expel steam from the steam nozzle into a cloth to clean any milk in the tube, and wipe off all milk residue with a clean damp cloth or anti-bacterial wipe. Follow these tips and you can be sure of great tasting espresso coffee products every time.
For more information about coffee and coffee making equipment visit http://www.cafebar.co.uk