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Fresh Coffee Bean Help - want strong, smooth taste

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Hi everyone,

I'm looking for some help on coffee beans. For a year or so now, i've been using a Delonghi bean to cup machine and using Starbucks Espresso and then more recently Sumatra beans.

For me (as a relative newbie), the taste has been quite good - I have it set to double shot, maximum intensity and let it fill around 280ml into my cup - a nice americano style coffee.

I've been wanting to try some fresher beans to get better crema, and just to see if I could improve on the flavour with fresh beans.

I seem to be hitting a problem getting any beans that are "dark" enough to give me a good strong flavour.

Recently I have tried Rave's Chatsworth blend and Italian Job blend - these appeared to be the strongest beans they have available.

Ive tried both through the machine, tried changing grind settings incrementally from coarse (7) all the way down to fine (1), intensity is up to full, crema looks gorgeous, but the coffee is beyond weak - tastes more like dirty water no matter what I do.

Either the machine is not compatible with these beans, the beans are just not dark or strong enough for the flavour I want, or i'm doing something badly wrong, but considering I can get a really good strong cup from both Starbucks beans, i just don't know where i'm going wrong.

Could anyone help shed some light on this for me, and if its the beans, perhaps point me in the direction of something fresh that will give me a lovely dark, full bodied americano with loads of flavour!


Sorry if this sounds like a really stupid question!

I am hoping to upgrade to a Sage Barista Plus at Christmas time, so finding the right beans now will be a great help.

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To make an americano you should be pulling a shot of espresso and then topping up with hot water - forgive me if I'm wrong but it sounds like you're letting 280ml run through the coffee?


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Hey up!

To add to@Fez 's comment, an Americano should be in the range of 150ml with a double shot. 280ml would therefore rather be two doubles if you want to arrive at reasonable taste.

Try pulling a straight double into 100ml water, followed by another straight double in 200ml. Then compare which you prefer.
Putting in water first will aid keeping crema nice.

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To make an americano you should be pulling a shot of espresso and then topping up with hot water - forgive me if I'm wrong but it sounds like you're letting 280ml run through the coffee?
That's how I'm reading it too. Pouring 2 singles instead of a double may give a stronger drink too.

Laissez les bons temps rouler

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Morning everyone,

Thanks a lot for taking the time to reply.

I'm not sure how the process works internally on the delonghi bean to cup machine exactly, but I have 2 options: 

1. A button for a single and a button for a double shot.

2. Under that, there are 2 knobs: one to set the volume of water, and one for intensity.

As mentioned, this works perfectly with the starbucks beans, giving good, full flavour.

I've attached a photo of my machine for reference.

What you seem to be saying is I need to make the double shot and then add water separately? This would seem to bypass the main point of the bean to cup machines purpose, however I know this will be the process once I move to the Sage Barista anyway. More than willing to give it a try this evening to see if the results are any better.

Thanks for the help so far....I shall report back tonight!


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Sorry, to make it clear how I actually make the coffee presently - I have the volume knob turned to halfway, intensity set to max.

I then put my mug underneath and choose a double shot - with all the preferences I have set, this gives a 3/4 mug of coffee.

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Coffee takes time, attention and love to become a delicious beverage. Apart from knowledge :D no bean to cup machine can provide either of that. Haha, so yea you bypass the stupid idea of a superautomatic for that matter!

Thing is, by pushing all that water through puck you will always extract stuff usually nobody wants to land in their cup. You want sugars and flavour - no bitterness, burnt rubber or ash. Turn down volume knob and grind as fine as possible (which isn't really fine in espresso terms, anyways with these bean to cup grinders) without choking the machine. Most likely you won't arrive at a 30sec shot time for a double espresso, but every second closer to that will give you a better result by rule of thumb.

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Thanks Hasi, much appreciated.

I appreciate that the all in one machine will never produce the sort of results I really want - hence why i'm thinking about a Barista Express - but I will certainly experiment tonight and see how things go - at least I should get a decent cup to keep me going until I can afford an upgrade!

On that note, having done a bit of research, the Sage Barista Express appears to be an excellent machine - not only does it seem to produce good coffee, but really looks the part too!

But I wanted to ask about going for something like the delonghi pump espresso machine along with a separate grinder? I keep going back to look at it for some reason - I think its the simplicity of the machine and the fact that the grinder is separate means things are much easier to repair or replace if anything goes wrong.

Does anyone have experience of both these machines, or is there anything else I should be looking at to take my coffee journey up to the next level?!

As it will be a significant investment either way, I want to try my best to get the right equipment, and then I can spend time perfecting my technique to get as good a coffee as I can.

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On here, we usually advise newbies to look into used equipment market first. Be it in our very own classifieds section or on one of the many online platforms. Doing that, you won't lose any money if buying wisely - because you can always put it back on the market at the same price if you can't cope with the stuff.

Sage has a reputation for building good entry level machines, only they make you come back to their service network for repairs. Very unlikely you'll find spares on free market if you want to repair stuff on your own.

One thing you want to consider is warm-up times. Thermoblock machines are rather quick, whereas boiler machines need some time to get up to temp. In any case, no coffee machine is really ready to produce meaningful brew instantly after flicking a switch. Of course there's a trade-off for speediness: temperature stability. But that takes us a bit far off for now... just research on here - lots of useful information! Keep asking questions in respective threads because there you'll easily meet the experts in respective fields :cool:

Edited by Hasi

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Just a quick update after much searching and trial and error.

First problem was my own fault - I was moving the grind setting while the machine was not in use, which means the grind apparently doesn't change. Whoops.

The second thing was using espresso shots for long coffee instead of letting water run through the puck for the whole drink. As a newbie, the diagrams on the machine are very confusing as the volume knob shows a full cup at max....however they didn't say it was an espresso sized cup ?

Lastly, and the one that took the most research to find out - the double shot button is next to useless. It apparently just runs twice the amount of water through the same coffee.

So, armed with all my new found knowledge, I turned on the machine last night and done the following:

  1. set the grinder to its finest grind (1)
  2. added newly purchased coffee compass hill & valley espresso blend beans 
  3. half filled my mug with hot water using the wand
  4. set intensity to full and shot size to just above minimum
  5. pulled 2 separate single shots into the mug to create a long black
  6. added a drop of milk

Well, thats the best cup of coffee i've ever had from the machine. The beans play a huge part too, the taste is very smooth and strong. Just lovely. I've also got a bag of the Mocha Italia beans which are even stronger which I'm very excited to try.

A lot of these things might seem simple and obvious to seasoned coffee drinkers, however hopefully all my silly mistakes might help someone else just starting out!


If it can taste this good through a cheapish bean to cup machine, i'm just even more excited now to upgrade to the Barista Express and see what I can get out of it.


Thanks to all for the help and advice during the thread - much appreciated.


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Great ? it’s good when you get a good, tasty cup of coffee - you are well on the way now ? 

2019 L-R with hand turned Thuya burr handles and toggles  /  1998 La Pavoni with NickNak single hole steam wand tip, tamper and stand, portafilter stand  /  Monolith Titan MAX and something or other on order  / HG-1  /  Kalita wave  /  Stag kettle  /  OCD  /  Joey Skateboard Handle Pullman Big Step & matching stirrer  /  gold B Plus stirrer  /  Push Tamper  /  Puqpress  /  EPHQ 14g baskets & 15g & 18g vst  /  IMS 35μM  /  LDT  /  Barista Gear Titanium 12oz pitchers  /  LW Bean Cellars & Caddy  /  Decent thermometer  /  Acme Evo 150ml cups  /  Espazzola  /  Hottop  /  embroidered by me bar towels  /  coffee bar towel logo embroiderer to the hoi polloi  /  in the cellars: HasBean, North Star, Foundry, The Barn, Craft House sub  /  6 gorgeous guineas  /  a dog  /  a very lovely and understanding husband 

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