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How to Prevent Oily Beans from Clogging Your Bean-to-Cup Machine

Cup of coffee with coffee beansWhen coffee beans are roasted the oils within them are released, particularly so with beans that are roasted for longer periods. This shouldn't be a problem when beans are ground separately before brewing, but for users of bean-to-cup machines this oiliness can sometimes interfere with the mechanism of their machines, causing problems with beans getting stuck and not flowing effectively into the grinding plates. There are some measures, however, that can be taken to try to avoid this frustrating situation.

Certain coffee beans are more prone to oiliness and will already be oily when they leave the roasters; this is a natural attribute of their particular roasting process. Examples of these are Continental, Old Brown Java, Monsoon Malabar, Directors, Ernesto, Kopi Luwak, Kick Start and Buckaroo. Some coffee beans become oily with time depending on their storage conditions. Caffè Marcos, Dark Decaffeinated Colombian, Smokey Joe's, Siesta, and Original All Nighter are examples of coffees more likely to do this. At Coffee-Direct.co.uk we range a number of coffees that are suitable for bean-to-cup machines. Some people have particularly sensitive machines, however, and may find it better to go for coffees in our range of low oil coffee beans, such as Golden Crema, Italian, Blue Sumatra, Barista Reserve, Swiss Water Decaffeinated, Dark Maragogype, Australian Skybury or Brazil Ipanema.

How long coffee beans are stored can also make a difference as to how oily they become. Unless the coffee is going to be used up quickly, it's probably a good idea to buy in small quantities, regularly, rather than an occasional bulk-buy. Coffee beans should be stored in a cool, dark place, as when kept in a warm environment they can oil up within the bag. Storing beans in the fridge can reduce the potential for oiliness, but not for too long, and they will naturally become oily once out of these cold conditions. Also, keeping coffee beans in the fridge isn't always a good idea as they are liable to absorb odours from strong-smelling foods that may also be stored there.

Aside from the coffee itself, another factor to consider is the importance of cleaning bean-to-cup machines thoroughly and frequently, particularly the bean canisters, to avoid a build-up of oil. As well as posing a risk of the machine becoming clogged, an accumulation of oil and debris can affect the flavour of coffee. The smaller apertures that feed the grinders of domestic bean-to-cup machines, compared to commercial ones, are possibly more susceptible to this, although commercial machines can still have problems if a build-up of oil is not removed. The fact that domestic coffee machines are usually kept in the warm environment of the kitchen also doesn't help.

So, by using fresh coffee that has been properly stored, and processed in a clean machine, there is far less likelihood of problems arising. And with so many fabulous coffees available, trying ones that are less prone to oiliness may be all you need to do to produce a perfect, problem-free brew every time you use your bean-to-cup machine.


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