There’s nothing better than enjoying a hot drink from a coffee shop. Whether you prefer a short, intense shot of espresso or a creamy, long latte, getting your daily caffeine fix can be just as important as washing your hair or brushing your teeth.
However, regular trips to coffee shops are costly, and if the shutters come down, as they did during the global pandemic, you could be left without access to a refreshing cup of Java every day. This is where the best coffee makers can help, letting you create espresso and a range of coffee-based drinks in the comfort of your own home.
According to UK retailer AO.com, sales of coffee machines soared by 412% in the UK during lockdown. But having one of the best coffee makers is only half of the battle – knowing the tips and tricks baristas in coffee shops use to ensure a perfect brew every time is also key. If you’re not one of the quarter of Americans that learnt how to use an espresso machine properly during lockdown (according to Mr Coffee) then listen up.
We spoke to Luke Powell, Speciality Coffee Manager at Sage, which produces a wide range of coffee makers including espresso machines and bean to cup coffee makers such as the Bambino Plus and the Barista Touch.
A former barista and an entrant into the UK Barista Championships, Powell joined Sage in 2019 to help teach consumers how to get the most out of their espresso machines. He filled us in on his top tips for getting the most out of your coffee machine.
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Espresso machines work by pushing pressurised hot water through ground coffee. The coffee sits in a basket, which depending on the size can either hold enough for a single or a double shot of espresso. The basket is placed in a portafilter, which is essentially a handle that means you can easily remove the hot ground coffee once your drink has been brewed.
It’s important to clean the portafilter between every use.
According to Powel, the simplest way to do this is to place the empty basket into the portafilter and run a single shot of water through it. As well as ensuring the group head (the part of the espresso machine where water from the boiler is dispensed into the portafilter) is clean, Powell points out this will also ensure your portafilter and machine is at the perfect temperature, but don’t forget to give it a wipe with a dry cloth before adding the ground coffee, he added.
If you’re using a bean to cup machine that’s fully automatic and doesn’t have a removable portafilter, dispense hot water into the cup to warm the machine before you brew your coffee. You can find out in-depth how to clean a coffee maker in our article.