Coffee Mailbag – April 2021

Welcome to April’s edition of the Coffee Mailbag.

The coffee mailbag is a place where we take all your questions from the last month and do our best to answer/give you the best advice we can.

The hope is that not only you get an answer to an issue you might be having, but our readers might also be able to take something away too. With that being said, let’s jump right in…

Why does the head pressure keep dropping when dialling in new coffee beans?

It’s normal for pressure to drop during extraction. Pressure starts high as the dry coffee offers all its resistance. Once the coffee is saturated and extraction begins, the coffee offers less resistance and the water flows more easily, hence the drop.

Is the Timemore C2 good enough to make mokapot coffee or should I go with the 1Zpresso JX?

The Timemore C2 is good enough for its price. If you are not planning to make espressos there is no case in buying the 1zpresso JX. Note that the C2 chamber only holds 20 grams of coffee beans. If you plan to make larger quantities in coffee then this may not be the best option.

Which espresso machine is better for crema: the Breville Mini Barista or the De’Longhi Dedica?

The Breville Mini Barista has a commercial size 58mm group head and volumetric control. It also has a full size powerful steam wand. The De’Longhi Dedica on the other hand uses an aerator attachment to create very bubbly milk (not micro-foam like the Mini Barista).

The De’Longhi Dedica also uses a 51-52mm group head which doesn’t extract the same amount of crema and flavour as a commercial 58mm size would so I would say the Breville Mini Barista would be better in this case.

I’m thinking of getting a Sage Barista Express and was wondering how good the grinder for it is?

Integrated grinders are very useful but if you really want to expand your barista skills it’s better to buy the coffee machine and grinder separately. Invest in a good steel burr grinder (flat burr is highly recommended for consistency of grind size).

You will, highly likely, upgrade your espresso machine over time as you master your latte art skills and discover the limitations of entry level machines. But we all have to learn to walk before we can run!

I’m looking to buy my husband a coffee machine with a budget of around £600 – which one should I go for?

For your budget, the Lelit PL81T is a good little machine. You might also want to take a look at the Rancilio Silvia or the Sage Bambino. At a push, you might find a deal on the Fracino Piccino. If you want an integrated grinder (although I’d recommend not) you could look at the Sage Barista Express. Happy searching. You can certainly get a perfectly respectable home machine for your budget!

Could I use reusable capsules with good quality roasts in my Dolce Gusto machine to brew espresso-like pressurised shots?

Yes, you can absolutely get a decent espresso shot like that but of course they’re not going to match up to using a more expensive espresso machine where you can adjust a lot of the variables. The more expensive espresso machines will give you something that has more body and A LOT more taste.

I’m using a Krups SVX2 conical burr grinder set on the finest setting. Even when I tamp VERY firmly it’s only taking around 10-12 seconds to pull a shot, which seems very short. Is the grinder the issue?

You’re right – your Krups grinder is simply not up to scratch. Even on the finest setting the grind is simply not fine enough for true espresso unfortunately!