Hold That Button Down: A Guide to Consistent Capsule Brewing

Capsule brewing machines have made espresso infinitely more accessible to the home user. Other traditional home or commercial machines may require a little bit more dialing in (and wasted coffee!) to get a tasty shot. With a capsule brewer? Push a button and you're done.

While that single press is enough to get drinkable results, we've previously covered a few things you can do to make your morning coffee a little tastier in our '10 Hacks for Coffee Brewing' guide. Once you are happy with your capsule and the brew, the next step is to recreate that better brew today, tomorrow, and the morning after. Here are three easy tips to achieve consistency in your espresso!

Use a Scale

If you have a food scale that registers at least 1 gram, you're good to go! Before you pull a shot, position the scale under the spout. Place an empty, preheated cup before you press the TARE button to zero the weight out. You may have to remove the drip tray to accommodate a scale under the machine.

Because of the volatility of espresso and its crema, it may be hard to judge the volume of the shot through sight alone. Weight is the best indicator of how much espresso you are getting in your cup. If you are happy with a 40 gram espresso, remember that number for next time!

Hold that Button Down

Most capsule brewing machines come with two preset delivery volumes for 'Espresso' and 'Lungo' settings. On our Nespresso Essenza Mini, this is 40ml and 110ml, respectively. This is possible because of the volumetric features of the machine, which allows for a programmed measure of water when pulling a shot. However, if you hold down any of the two buttons (instead of a short press), you can adjust the amount of coffee delivered to your preference. Simply release the button once you reach your target volume or weight, if using a scale!

Set and Forget

Let's say you enjoy the same capsule everyday, and know the recipe that tastes the best to you. Holding down the Espresso or the Lungo button to reach your target volume/weight also bypasses the default setting. This is confirmed by your chosen button blinking thrice once you release. Now you can simply press the button once next time you brew, and get roughly the same amount of espresso for that capsule everytime!

These tips may be counterintuitive to the convenience factor of a capsule brewer. However, if a tasty espresso brings you joy, then we believe the extra steps for flavour and consistency are more than worth it.

Words by: Jon Choi @theheadbean

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