FAQs | Manual Coffee Machines and 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 espresso machines and coffee grinders.

With most Italian espresso machines you will get a both a single basket and a double basket as standard accessories. Of course, I always recommend an upgrade to a Precision Double Basket for the very best results. Recommended doses are:

  • Standard single basket - 12g

  • Standard double basket - 18g

  • Precision double basket - 22g

So, should you use the single basket with your manual espresso machine? Not when you start out. Start with only the double basket 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 without adjusting the grinder setting. You should find this sweet spot in the 10-12g range.

Toggling between double and single baskets without adjusting the grinder setting is tricky but it can be done. Have a play and work out the dosing that works for you.

  • Firstly, the brew temperature of your 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 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 dose is correct. I recommend 22g 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 dose is correct. I recommend 22g for a 20g precision basket. 
  • The 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 channelling.
  • 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 Coffee Machine 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 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 home Italian coffee machines range from 9-12 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 single answer to this one as water quality varies all over the country.
  • If you have tank water or quality tap water just go ahead and use it. I use unfiltered Melbourne tap water for my coffee machine. 
  • If you have poor quality tap water you will need a water filter to keep your coffee machine healthy. I recommend the Brita C150 Purity Finest
  • It's important to note that coffee machine warranties do not cover damage caused by scale.