FAQs | Coffee Machines & Coffee Grinders

When you buy from K Bean you can always contact me, Paul, at any time for first class 1-on-1 support. You’ll find that l often point you to one of my web pages or to one of the FAQs below. These FAQs cover the most common issues encountered when learning the ins-and-outs of Italian coffee machines and coffee grinders.

  • First, go back to my Training Page and follow my 10 Step Coffee Machine Espresso Workflow.

  • Check that you are getting a double espresso within 25-35 seconds.

  • If you are getting a double espresso within 25-35 seconds and the espresso is thin and lacking crema there can be only one answer - the beans.

  • Make sure that you are using fresh coffee beans. Beans less than 4 weeks old are recommended. Read my Blog about coffee bean freshness and storage by clicking here

  • When using a manual Italian coffee machine you really need to understand espresso extraction. Don’t worry though as I have made this simple.

  • To learn about espresso extraction and to understand the point where you stop extraction please visit my Understanding Espresso page.

  • After visiting my Understanding Espresso page simply follow my 10 Step Home Espresso Workflow on my Training Page and you will make amazing coffee time after time.

  • Most manual Italian coffee machines have a lever operated E61 group.

  • When you first play you will notice 3 lever positions, but there are actually 4.

    • Position 1: down - water channel closed, pump off

    • Position 2: near 45 degrees - water channel channel closed, pump off

    • Position 3: near 25 degrees - water channel open, pump on

    • Position 4: up - water channel open, pump on

  • Positions 1, 2 and 4 are easy to find as they lock in. To find position 3 you need to have a play. Position 3 is where most E61 coffee machines will allow you to pre-wet the coffee puck when running off of a tank or to pre-infuse when running plumbed.

  • So now you know how to pre-wet or pre-infuse. Next comes the important question: How useful are pre-wetting and pre-infusion? For the answer click here

  • Unusual noises from a manual Italian coffee machines with an E61 group is usually a sign of the group running dry. ie, without enough lubricant.

  • If you are handy and willing, take a look on YouTube and you will find plenty of step-by-step videos that show you how to disassemble and re-lubricate your espresso machine’s E61 group. All you will need are some basic tools and some food safe grease.

  • If you don’t want to get your hands dirty take it to a local Italian coffee machine technician for a quick, basic service. It won’t cost much.

  • Why does this sometimes happen earlier than expected? A simple reason. Too much back flushing with back flush detergent. Back flush detergent dissolves not only coffee oils, it also dissolves the good lubricating grease in the E61 group.

  • For tips on how to maintain your machine without over-maintaining see my Italian coffee machine Maintenance Guide

  • With most Italian espresso machines you will get a standards single basket and a standard double basket. Of course, I always recommend upgrading to a Precision Double Basket for the very best results.

    • Recommended doses for the baskets are:

    • Standard single basket - 10g

    • Standard double basket - 16g

    • Precision double basket - 22g

  • Start with one of your double baskets and avoid the single basket. The main reason for starting with a double basket is that with a double basket the coffee puck is thicker and less prone to water channeling. So start off with the double basket and master your espresso extractions.

  • After you have mastered your double basket extractions you can try out the single basket. With Italian coffee machines, using single baskets can be tricky to use because of the thin coffee pucks which are highly prone to water channeling. For this reason I highly recommend using a Coffee Distribution Tool

  • When it comes to dosing, the best approach for a single basket is to add the amount of coffee that gives you the same extraction speed that you get when using your double basket. You should find this sweet spot at around 10g. When you find the sweet spot you will be able to toggle between double and single baskets without any need to adjust the grinder setting.

  • Firstly, the brew temperature of your Italian coffee machine has a negligible effect upon the temperature of your drink. Brew temperature will only effect flavour of your espresso. eg, colder for more acidity and warmer for more bitter sweetness.

  • Secondly, when steaming milk you should steam until the jug is hot to touch. Never overheat the milk as overheating will reduce the milk’s sweetness and it can even burn the milk.

  • The big secret to a warm drink is to pre-warm the cups with boiling water. With pre-warmed cups you will get a warm drink to enjoy :)

  • First, go back to my Training Page and follow my 10 Step Coffee Machine Espresso Workflow.

  • You may have too much coffee in your PF so check that the coffee dose is correct. I recommend 22g of coffee for a 20g precision basket. Always weigh your grind.

  • The grind may be too coarse. Turn your grinder collar to a small number to make the grind finer. 

  • Make sure that you are using fresh coffee beans. Beans less than 4 weeks old are recommended. Read my Blog about coffee bean freshness and storage by clicking here

  • First, go back to my Training Page and follow my 10 Step Coffee Machine Espresso Workflow.

  • You may have too little coffee in your PF so check that the coffee dose is correct. I recommend 22g of coffee for a 20g precision basket. Always weigh your grind.

  • The coffee grind may be too coarse. Turn your grinder collar anti-clockwise (to a small number) to make the grind finer.

  • Check your distribution of grinds in the basket. I recommend using a Grind Distribution Tool

  • Make sure that your tamp is even and firm, and only tamp once as over-tamping can break the coffee puck and cause channeling.

  • Make sure that you are using fresh coffee beans. Beans less than 4 weeks old are recommended. Read my Blog about coffee bean freshness and storage by clicking here

  • Before you add any beans to the hopper find your domestic coffee grinder's zero point. The zero point is where the top and bottom burrs touch and lock together. Some people expect the zero on the collar to align with the zero point but this isn't usually the case.

  • To find your grinder's zero point you need to start with an empty and clean grinder. Rotate the collar until the top and bottom burrs touch. This is your grinder's zero point.

  • After finding the zero point, back off by rotating the collar 1/8 of a turn. Grind at this setting, then tune in the grinder in. Note that you should run 100g of coffee through a new grinder before tuning in. This 100g helps to "clog" the burrs, in the way they will be "clogged" for daily grinding.

  • To tune the grinder in follow the steps in my 10 Step Espresso Workflow

Note - The FAQ above applies to traditional domestic coffee grinders. 

  • I see this from time to time. The main reason this happens is that people move the coffee grinder setting from coarse back to fine without pulsing at intervals, resulting in large bean fragments getting caught between the burrs.

  • If this happens, back the grid size off to coarse, then pulse the grinder, at small (1cm) intervals, as you work your way back to fine.

  • If you still can’t produce a fine grind and cannot turn the collar there's a chance that a foreign object, such as a stone, has that made it into the coffee grinder.

  • The next step is to remove the top burr and clean out the coffee grinder.

  • To clean out the grinder you need to unplug the grinder, remove the hopper, unscrew the collar, tip the grinder to empty out the beans, vacuum the chamber, then reassemble.

  • If you still have problems there may be a blockage in the chute of your coffee grinder. To remove the blockage unravel a paperclip, stick it up the chute and jiggle it around.

  • From here it's back to the start so go to my "How do I set up my grinder for the first time?" page by clicking here

Note - The FAQ above applies to traditional domestic coffee grinders. 

  • Check that the water tank hasn't run dry as all of my Italian coffee machines automatically turn off when water runs low.

  • If water is in the tank, turn the machine off, pull the tank out and put it back in to re-rest the internal low water switch, then turn the machine on again.

  • If it doesn't work the first time, try it again. Sometimes the water tank will need a little jiggle to reset the low water switch.

  • All steam wands on Italian coffee machines will have some condensed water sitting in the bottom when sitting idle.

  • Before steaming, purge water for 1-2 seconds until you get to dry steam.

  • If you are using a single boiler coffee machine, check that you have switched from brew mode to steam mode, and also, waited for the boiler to reach steaming pressure.

  • Pump pressure settings for domestic Italian coffee machines range from 10-12 bar.

  • There's no right or wrong and the pressure setting has no noticeable effect upon your brew.

  • You will, of course, need to adjust your grinder setting to get the best results for your machine.

  • There's no simple answer to this one as water quality varies all over the country.

  • If you have quality tap water go ahead and use it. You will still need to descale annually. Descaling is a very simple process and it is described in my Maintenance Guide

  • If you have poor quality tap water I recommend using either rainwater tank water, bottled water or filtered water.

    • Read about water filtration for Italian coffee machines by clicking here

  • It's important to note that coffee machine warranties do not cover damage caused by scale.