Your Essential Guide to Bean-to-Cup Machine Coffee
Bringing ease, efficiency and speed to coffee preparation, a bean-to-cup machine takes care of each stage in the brewing process, from grinding the beans to the perfect coarseness, to brewing and pouring. Many machines will include a steam wand or pannarello for creating wonderful, velvety froth and steamed milk, ideal for lattes and cappuccinos, while the user settings in most bean-to-cup models allow for users to customise their perfect coffees, all with the simple touch of a button.
The Java Jargon Decoder
Here are a few terms that may come in handy as we explore coffee for bean-to-cup machines:
- Bean-to-cup - A bean-to-cup machine has a built-in grinder, so all you have to do is add the right amount of coffee beans and you’re good to go.
- Steam Wand and Pannarello - The tool fitted to a number of bean-to-cup machines that allows users to create froth and steamed milk. A pannarello attaches to a steam wand to make the process easier and improve results.
- Strength - A common mistake is to refer to coffee “strength” as an indication of caffeine levels in a bean. Strength instead refers to the ratio of water to ground coffee in the brewing of a drink.
- Extraction Time - The time taken for hot water to extract flavour, aromas and caffeine from ground coffee. Extraction times are greatly affected by the grind size or coarseness of a coffee bean; coarser grinds result in a shorter extraction time, while finer grinds cause a longer extraction time.
- Crema - One of the key features of espresso, Crema, Italian for cream, is the natural head of foam that forms on top of an espresso shot.
HOW TO USE A BEAN-TO-CUP MACHINE
Because a bean-to-cup machine takes care of so much in the coffee preparation process, they are particularly easy to use. However, there are some variables that can be manually selected by users and which will alter the flavours and aromas of the finished drink.
Many bean-to-cup machines offer settings for both coffee grind coarseness and water ratio or volume. By experimenting with the settings of your bean-to-cup machine, you can find the ideal combination of grind coarseness and water ratio to make perfect beverages every use.
HOW SHOULD COFFEE BE GROUND IN A BEAN-TO-CUP MACHINE?
In coffee extraction, the coarseness of a ground bean dictates the length of the extraction period of your espresso shot; the finer the ground coffee is, the more surface area is exposed and the longer the extraction time is, while coarser grinds allow less exposure, resulting in a shorter extraction time.
Ideally, you will want an espresso shot from a bean-to-cup machine to be thick with a good amount of crema. If your espresso shot is lacking in flavour and crema, it likely means that your grind setting is too coarse, and likewise if the shot is coming out very slowly and yielding little volume, the ground coffee is likely too fine.
HOW MUCH WATER SHOULD I USE WITH A BEAN-TO-CUP MACHINE?
Many bean-to-cup machines will allow you to adjust the settings for water ratio or volume, so that you can customise and create the perfect coffee time and time again, across any bean variety that you choose. When we talk about the “strength” of a coffee, we are not talking about the caffeine content of a particular bean. Rather we are referring to the ratio of coffee to water; a “stronger” coffee will have a higher percentage of dissolved ground coffee in the water, and vice versa for a “weaker” coffee.
It is therefore worth experimenting with different water and coffee ratios.
WHAT IS THE BEST BEAN-TO-CUP MACHINE?
A great bean-to-cup machine will offer you ease and quality in every cup of coffee. You will want a sturdy design that will last you for years, as well as quality features. Our range of bean-to-cup machines offer good water tank sizes, 100% ceramic adjustable grinders, sizable bean hopper capacities, stainless steel components and removable parts for easy cleaning, all of which contribute to make a great machine.
WHAT IS THE BEST COFFEE FOR A BEAN-TO-CUP MACHINE?
Using freshly roasted whole beans is an absolute must with bean-to-cup machines, so it’s imperative that you avoid stale beans. At Coffee-Direct, we roast our coffee beans to order, ensuring a freshness in every bag that will deliver delicious, full-flavoured and aromatic coffees. We even pack our beans in one-way valve, foil fresh bags and include the date of roasting on each bag.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BEAN-TO-CUP MACHINE AND AN ESPRESSO MAKER?
A bean-to-cup machine takes care of the entire coffee preparation process, so that all you need to do is fill the machine with your chosen coffee beans, keep the water tank filled with clean water, and keep the machine clean and well-maintained. The machine will grind and extract your espresso shot, and in some cases allow you to create milk froth with a steam wand. An espresso maker requires more manual work from the user and takes pre-ground coffee. The pre-ground coffee is placed into the portafilter and tamped, before the hot water is run through the grounds and the extraction occurs.
CAN YOU USE PRE-GROUND COFFEE IN A BEAN-TO-CUP MACHINE?
Many bean-to-cup machines can use pre-ground coffee as well as beans. This is useful if you want to use a different variety, such as a decaffeinated coffee, without emptying the main bean hopper.
WHAT IS THE BEST BEAN-TO-CUP MACHINE FOR BEGINNERS?
Depending on your needs, there will be a bean-to-cup coffee machine for you. At Coffee-Direct, we stock a wide range of Gaggia and Slimissimo bean-to-cup machines, featuring a variety of features such as built-in milk carafes, steam wants and pannarello, customisable user settings for more experienced at-home baristas, and pre-set functions for beginners.