Eyes Wide Open – Bean to Cup Machine

Eyes Wide Open – Bean to Cup Machine

The bean to cup coffee machine is not what I would normally be impressed by as I am very much a traditionalist on espresso machines.  I say this mainly because of the many years spent in the coffee industry.  Knowing through experience what a barista has to achieve manually to produce perfect espresso shots.

It takes time and skills for baristas to master their trade and be consistent.  Including an understanding of the origin of the coffees, coffee processes and coffee grind particle size. Plus you also need to include the correct dose, then the correct pressure in tamping the ground coffee level. Flushing group heads is part of their knowledge bases as in the purging of the steam wands. The list goes on with, silently foaming milk to create the perfect texture.  Also the correct techniques when pouring out the milk and serving in the correct sized cup. It also includes needing to know what the traditional machine needs to be doing in terms of water pressure at the correct time of dispense.  Because water temperature and dosing levels are also important to get the best out of the coffee.

In saying all this I have had my eyes opened this week when it comes to bean to cup machines and what they can achieve.

Bean to cup coffee machine knowledge

My initial knowledge of bean to cup coffee machines comes about because of historic experiences with using this type of equipment. Equipment that was known to regular have faults that even the best engineers and coffee technicians couldn’t resolve.  My perception of these old huge chunky machines was they would produce (if you were lucky) a luke warm, tasteless, thin, see-through liquid.  Also lets not forget whilst doing this they were also making horrendous clunking sounds for 45 seconds. Various degrees of nasty tasting coffee would emerge with poor end results had been my experience.  I think you can see why I may have stayed away from them, well that was until now!

This new era of bean to cup coffee machines drew me in with their slick, modern, peaceful noises.  Their new touch pads, fresh beans hopper, eye catching images and a range of drinks winning me over.  It kept shouting “come and try me,” “go on, give me a go.”

I was beckoned it to give it a try

So here I was being beckoned in towards the table top, free standing machine. I gingerly chose the espresso selection icon not expecting too much.  It then scrolled intuitively to a sliding menu offering me a host of drinks. Previously having steered clear of the bean to cup coffee machine I was now wanting to find out more.  So as you could imagine I had to find out more to see if my historic feelings were the same a few years on.

The bright clean lights offered me the option of an espresso. Not only that but a large espressos were an option too.  Or maybe it was a cappuccino I wanted! Or was it an Americano or a hot milk, latte macchiato, café latte or did I just want a hot water!  How can all this be hidden inside such a compact and sleek looking unit I thought.  The only thing protruding was a curved bean hopper that effortlessly blended into the top of the machine. 

This is going to be bad I thought, how can it not.  So I thought lets go with a milky based drink.  This would definitely confirm my previous feelings towards the machines, so I gently ran a finger over the cappuccino icon.

That Doh! moment

The machine screen sprang to life and told me that no cup was present – Doh, as homer would say! How did it know was my next thought, followed by a feeling of stupidity!  I should have known a cup is needed to be able to drink lukewarm, taste-less see through liquid. I was secretly impressed that the machine corrected my error as it could have been disastrous!

So back to pressing my cappuccino icon.  The screen woke again and informed me with a percentage reading that my drink was being made. Here we go I thought and again knowing what the barista must do to produce great milk I was under no illusion this wasn’t going to be good.  As the gentle noise of fresh beans began grinding so did the milk flow.  After a few moments the espresso began its decent into the cup cutting through the airy, shiny, glossy milk which was rising. 30 seconds later the liquid stopped at the top of the cup giving a good-looking foamy drink.  I was stunned!  This is not what I was expecting, however I knew the proof would be in the pudding and it would taste awful and I would be the winner!

Now I admit I was wrong

How wrong was I.  Perfect temperature, smooth light airy creamy textured milk, great mouthful with a good tasting espresso coffee in each sip? This was amazing, so much so I pressed Latte Macchiato to see what this would do.  It layered a drink with steamed milk followed by the espresso and the foamed milk.  I then thought I would press for an espresso and then a hot chocolate and finally an Americano.  The machine effortlessly produced quality drink after quality drink. If I had of had a hat on I would have eaten it!

The new Bean to cup coffee machine is impressive

I went to find the manager and asked how it did all that so smoothly and how it produced the drinks so well.  He admitted he was like I was.  Sceptical on all things bean to cup initially, but laughed as he opened it up proudly and showed me the internals. One fresh bean hopper.  Canisters for granulated milk, hot chocolate and decaf coffee.  Also included was a removable cleaning system for daily rinsing.  A removable brew chamber if ever needed from an engineering requirement and perfect coffee pucks.  Programming options were also included for all the things a barista can do.  These of course were including the dosage, temperature, brew time and grind size. A USB drive was also part of its mechanics to add video and images and blue tooth connectivity for diagnostics. I was silenced!

How wrong could I have been.   Eyes certainly opened wide this week. I am more than pleased that we will be introducing this machine into our estate over the coming weeks with the intention to open everyone’s eyes.  This is impressive so keep your eyes open!