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De'Longhi

10 Ways You Might Be Using Your Coffee Machine Wrongly

finger pressing a button on a coffee machine

What does it take to brew a perfect coffee? Well, a lot.

It starts with the coffee beans, then the coffee machine, and even the way you brew your coffee. One tiny mistake can drastically alter the taste and quality of your coffee. 

Let’s talk about several reasons why your coffee isn’t brewing as well as you want it to and how you can make it right to get the perfect homebrew.

You use the auto-brew function

LED display of a coffee machine

An auto-brew function may be convenient, but your coffee may lose aroma and flavour, sitting on the warmer. Photo from De’Longhi

Most automatic coffee makers are programmed with an auto-brew function that allows you to brew your coffee up to 24 hours in advance. The function ensures a fresh, hot cup of coffee is ready on your kitchen countertop every morning.

While this may be convenient and handy, ground coffee loses its aroma and flavour in mere minutes. The time that your coffee is sitting on the warming plate before you take your first sip may take away all the delicious aroma of a fresh brew. 

You pause your java mid-brew

chocolate milk in a coffee machine

Don’t hit pause as your java mid-brew to yield the perfect homebrew. Photo from De’Longhi

In a bit of a hurry and want to stop your java mid-brew? Our advice: don’t.

Much like baking, brewing your coffee requires patience. There are steps that must be followed to yield the perfect homebrew.

If you stop the brewing process, your first cup of coffee will be too strong and what’s left in the pot will be weak. As coffee is brewed, the intensity decreases with every drip as there are fewer soluble solids to dissolve in the water. Once fully brewed, your pot of coffee contains a balanced strength and concentration.

You use old coffee beans

pouring coffee beans into a coffee machine

Only buy your coffee beans as much as you need to last for one or two weeks. Photo from De’Longhi

That bag of coffee beans sitting in your kitchen cabinet or those coffee pods in a jar on your kitchen countertop aren’t meant to last a long while. If you leave them too long, the flavours in your coffee may deteriorate. 

Only buy as much as you think you’ll use in about a week or sign up for a coffee subscription offered by most coffee roasters or coffee shops. You will get your regular supply of freshly-roasted coffee beans delivered to your doorsteps, enough to last for one or two weeks before a new batch arrives.

You’re storing your coffee the wrong way

coffee beans in an air-tight container

Store your coffee beans in an opaque container at a cool, dry, and dark location. Photo from De’Longhi

Storing your coffee beans in a transparent jar? Or leaving your bag of coffee beans on the kitchen countertop? We’ve made those mistakes before.

Trust us, better care for coffee beans makes better-tasting coffee. Light will compromise your beans and temperature may deteriorate the flavour, so we recommend storing your coffee beans in an opaque container at a cool, dry, and dark location.

Shop the De’Longhi Vacuum Coffee Canister here.

You grind your beans too early

tampered coffee grounds

Only grind as much as you need, right before you brew your coffee. Photo from Devin Avery

The best way to enjoy your coffee is when it’s fresh. Make a habit to only grind as much as you need, right before you brew your coffee. 

When coffee beans are ground, they are exposed to oxygen and lose carbon dioxide, in a process called oxidisation. To preserve coffee freshness, we personally grind our beans within five to ten minutes of brewing.

You’re not grinding your coffee properly

coffee beans in a coffee machine

Invest in a good-quality coffee grinder for a spectacular cup of coffee. Photo from De’Longhi

Coffee that isn’t ground properly may not be able to serve the best aroma and flavour.

Depending on the type of coffee you’re brewing, you may need to adjust the size of your grinder. When you grind your coffee beans, a uniform result of ground beans will draw out a spectacular cup of coffee. When coffee grounds are uniform, water flows evenly through the coffee beans for maximum flavour extraction.

Invest in a high-quality coffee grinder and you’ll notice, or rather taste, the difference.

You’re brewing at a wrong temperature

extracting two shots of espresso

You’d want your water temperature to be just right to fully extract the best flavour and aroma. Photo from De’Longhi

Too hot and you could be destroying the flavour of your beans, and too cold and you might not be able to extract the full flavours. You’d want your water temperature to be just right.

The ideal temperature for coffee brewing is between 90.6°C and 96.1°C. Get a kitchen thermometer to measure the water temperature to make sure it is spectacular coffee.

You’re not using clean water

a glass of water

If your coffee maker is brewing mediocre coffee, poor water may be one of the reasons. Photo from Manu Schwendener

Approximately 90% of your coffee is water. If your coffee maker is brewing mediocre coffee, poor water may be one of the reasons.

Scientifically, water hardness is measured by the volume of carbonates in the water. Too high, and your coffee may taste acidic. Too low, and your coffee may taste sour and flat. We personally prefer filtered water or distilled water.

You are using too much or too little coffee

coffee beans in a bag

Measuring your coffee beans may be a bit of a hassle, but good coffee is all about the right proportions of coffee to water. Photo from Nadia Valko

On some mornings when you can barely open your eyes, measuring your coffee beans may seem like a chore. You may toss a few scoops of coffee into the filler and extract a full pot or throw in more than necessary for a cup.

But, good coffee is all about the right proportions of coffee to water. Our advice is to invest in a kitchen scale and measure the proper amount of coffee and water for an amazing cup of coffee in the morning.

You don’t clean your machine well

coffee machine, mobile phone and coffee on a table

Clean your coffee machine regularly to avoid rancid residue from accumulated oils. Photo from De’Longhi

What happens if you don’t clean your coffee machine? Bitter-tasting coffee with an acrid smell and, worse, clogging and blockage that may render your machine unusable.

Coffee is, by nature, a very oily substance. Over time, coffee oils accumulate inside your coffee machine to form a rancid residue. Cleaning your coffee machine removes the residue to ensure your coffee always tastes fresh.

Learn how to descale your coffee machine.