You’re finally the proud owner of a shiny, state-of-the-art espresso machine. You’ve carefully studied the different coffee origins and different types of roasts and bought the best espresso coffee blend, perfectly roasted by an Italian coffee specialist. Yet, the coffee that comes out from your machine is nowhere near as good as the one from the nearest branded coffee shop. What gives?
At Faema Montreal we know good coffee and we also know how to get better tasting coffee. All the tips and tricks that we’ve collected below have been perfectly tested and proven over time by espresso machine users and experts from all over the world. So, without further ado, here’s how to get the best coffee out of your espresso machines.
Never overload the filter basket. This is a very common mistake, especially among less experienced users. The coffee filter basket must not be filled completely to the top. Leaving it at about three quarters of its capacity is ideal to let it do its job properly.
Press the coffee correctly. Pressing the coffee once it has been filled into the filter basket is key in order to obtain a good cup of espresso. Because each machine is unique, do consult the manufacturer’s recommendations. However, as a general rule, if you don’t press the coffee grind at all, the resulting coffee will be very watery because water circulates through it very easily. On the contrary, if you overpress, it’s difficult for water to go through, resulting in excessively thick coffee. So, like most things in life, finding the right balance is key.
Make sure the thermostat works properly. The thermostat in your espresso machine is like the engine of your coffee maker; it must always work perfectly. Just before the filtering process starts, the ideal water temperature must be between 85 °C and 95 °C or 185-200 °F (use a digital termometre if necessary). If the temperature is exceeded, or not being reached, the thermostat of your espresso machine is likely defective. This is a serious problem: we recommend that you urgently contact technical support or your trusted store. In Montreal, Faema Montreal offers quick and professional espresso machine repair and maintenance services.
Check the pump pressure. The pressure pump must always operate at the level specified by the machine manufacturer. If your espresso machine is set at 15 bars of pressure and the coffee does not come out at that intensity, you must adjust it or call the repair service.
Avoid leaving water in the tank. If you don't use the espresso machine very often, or if you plan to be away from home for a long period of time, it is best not to leave water sitting in the tank. If the water is not replaced frequently, it may end up leaving sediments and impurities that will eventually affect its flavour and consequently the flavour of your coffee. Replace the water in the tank often and wash the tank thoroughly every now and then. If the water in your home is particularly hard, get water filters. Your espresso machine will thank you.
Don’t neglect the coffee grinder.If your espresso machine has a built-in coffee grinder, you should try to keep it in perfect condition so as not to spoil your coffee. The best way to check this is to grind a bit of coffee and observe the result. The ground coffee must be completely regular (more or less fine grind, but always regular). If you see that the grinding leaves some pieces irregularly thicker than others, then it's time to change the mill blades.
Measure the coffee extraction time. A crucial detail unknown to most: if your espresso machine works properly, the coffee should come out in about 20-25 seconds. Not more, not less. The consequences are very visible: if the coffee takes less than 20-25 seconds to extract, it’s because it was brewed too quickly. The coffee will be watery and its colour lacks intensity. On the other hand, if the coffee takes more than 25 seconds to come out, it would be over brewed. The colour would be burnt black and the coffee too thick.
Descale your espresso machine frequently. Descaling is a key cleaning process to keep your espresso machine in perfect condition. Descaling tablets and liquids are the two most common types of descaler available in the market, and they work equally well. The frequency of limescale removal from the espresso machine depends on various factors, including the number of coffee you prepare per day and the hardness of the water you use. However, for most home users, every 3-4 months is recommended.
Clean the components regularly.The espresso machine should not be beautiful and shiny only on the outside. Frequently rinse or clean the brewing parts, the water tank and especially the filters and filter basket of your machine (these are the parts that are always in contact with the coffee). If your machine has them, also clean any milk and coffee residues from steam wands and milk frothers. Faema Montreal offers a wide range of cleaning products to simplify this process. Your espresso machine will last longer, and most importantly, your coffee will taste much better. Just like, or even better than at the branded coffee shops.