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Your Top Coffee Questions Answered

Coffee Questions

Our Steamer Coffee Expert answers the most common coffee questions asked by our customers!

What is Arabica coffee?

There are two common species of coffee plant: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica plants are delicate and require specific climate, soil and growing conditions. They produce Arabica beans which are prized for their clean crisp flavour and mildly acidic finish. Robusta plants, as the name suggests, are stronger than Arabica and will thrive in a wide variety of climates and conditions - they produce beans with a powerful mouth-filling flavour. Many coffees are blends of Arabica and Robusta.


Should I put my coffee in the fridge or freezer to keep it fresh?

Neither! Never chill coffee beans, it ruins the flavour. When the oils in either ground coffee or coffee beans are chilled they turn into a gel. When they warm up again the gel splits like rancid butter leaving the coffee with a dry burnt taste. Keep your coffee in the bag that it came in. Scrunch the bag down tightly to squeeze out any air and seal it with tape or an elastic band. To be on the safe side put the bag into a small airtight storagebox. Store the box in a cool cupboard at ‘pantry temperature’ i.e. just below room temperature but above fridge temperature. Ground coffee stored this way will keep really fresh for 3-5 days and beans for 7-10 days. It’s best to buy your coffee little and often to prevent waste.


I like my cafetiere coffee really hot. How do I keep it warm?

First, don’t be tempted to use really hot boiling water to brew your coffee as you’ll burn the grounds and spoil the flavour. Coffee shouldn’t ever be made with water above 88°C. Put an insulating jacket around your cafetiere to keep it warm while it’s brewing and as you drink it. For the ultimate insulation buy a stainless steel double walled cafetiere and pre warm it with hot water before you make your brew.


How do I get my Mocha pot to work on an induction hob?

You will need an induction interface. A magnet won’t ever stick to aluminium so aluminium mocha pots will never work on induction. Many stainless steel mochas that do attract a magnet are too small to make the hob work. The induction interface is a round plate of induction compatible stainless steel that you place into the hob. The interface warms up on the hob and transmits the heat to the mocha pot on top.


How do I clean the steam arm on my espresso machine?

Steam arms are prone to getting grungy and need careful cleaning. Any plastic parts can generally be unscrewed or pulled off for washing. Clean the outside of the steam pipe with a soft damp cloth. Never use an abrasive scourer as this may remove the plating from the pipe revealing the copper underneath. Copper reacts with acids in the milk to form some undesirable substances so clean your pipe with care. If the pipe has become blocked, unfold a paperclip and insert it into the end of the pipe. A little bit of wiggling should clear the pipe.


Can any parts of my espresso machine go in the dishwasher?

Drip trays are usually fine in the dishwasher but hot water is normally all that is needed to remove coffee residue. Don’t put the brew handle into the dishwasher as this may cause permanent damage.


What is ‘Crema’?

The crema is the thick bubble layer that forms on top of a really good espresso. The word literally means ‘cream’ in Italian. To test how good an espresso is, gently pour an espresso spoonful of sugar onto the surface of the crema. Count how long it takes for the sugar to fall through the crema. Anything above 4 seconds is excellent.


Do I really need to buy a coffee grinder?

Freshly ground coffee always tastes best so a grinder is always a good purchase. You can finely tune the settings of a burr grinder to get the very best performance from your espresso machine and the thickest crema too!


Is an espresso machine with a higher bar pressure better than one with a lower one?

No, not necessarily. Coffee is brewed at 9 Bars of pressure (or 9 atmospheres). Pump pressures range from 12 – 19 Bars depending on the type of machine. The extra pressure is needed to perform other tasks inside the machine such as pushing water through the thermoblock or bursting a capsule. So it’s wrong to assume that a higher number means better coffee.

Posted: 08 Sep 2016

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