Bean longing for a perfect home brew?

COFFEE lovers will gladly sacrifice a few dollars for a cup of coffee made by a professional barista but advancements in technology have made it easier for individuals to make top quality coffee at home.

With so many different brands and models available and with prices ranging from under $100 to more than $3000 how do shoppers decide which machine is best for the home?

Electrical retailer The Good Guys say the best buy will depend on the budget and the level of automation.

There are four main types of coffee machines, manual, semi-automatic, automatic and fully automatic. The more automated the machine the more it will cost you.

The manual machine: Understanding how to use a manual machine will help you decide on the level of automation you would like. The manual machine requires users to fill the water reservoir, place the ground coffee into the portafilter (also called a group handle) and turn on the water when the coffee machine is ready.

If steamed milk is desired the user must half fill a small stainless steel jug and place it under the steaming tube, turn on the steam and heat and froth the milk then pour the frothed milk into the cup with the coffee.

Semi-automatic: It switches off the water after a set amount goes through the coffee. This removes the risk of allowing too much water through the ground coffee. A semi-automatic still requires you to load the ground coffee, heat the milk, and empty the portafilter manually.

The automatic machine: These machines will automate the process of making the espresso, although you'll probably still have to froth and pour in the milk. The automatic will use whole coffee beans which you will need to keep full. The automatic will grind the coffee beans and start and stop the water. And because the automatic grinds the beans just before it makes the coffee, you will have a superior coffee to one made using pre-ground coffee.

Fully automatic: These systems are ideal in offices or if you want luxury service at home. All you must do is load whole coffee beans and arrange a supply of milk and water. Some machines allow you to have a second coffee type, such as decaffeinated, although this often must be a ground coffee rather than beans. On top of all that, some fully automatics will even perform their own maintenance.

Time capsule: A recent variation on the espresso machine is one that uses coffee capsules. These sealed coffee capsules have pre-ground coffee inside them. Simply insert the capsule in a machine that can use them and then run the machine.

Once the coffee is made, eject the used capsule and throw it away. These systems produce a reliable quality coffee. They also save time and mess.

For more information or advice on buying a coffee machine visit

Making a great coffee

Expert tips from Merlo Coffee

  • Always pre-heat your cup or glass before introducing the coffee. A cold cup will cause the cream to break up
  • When filling the group handle with coffee, do not leave the handle pre-filled in the machine for any period of time, as the ground coffee will burn
  • Keep your machine clean - after every few coffees, wash the group handle. Backwash your machine every day with espresso machine cleaner
  • To build a thick, smooth froth it is essential to always use fresh, cold milk
  • Pour only as much milk as you need into the frothing jug
  • A good method for regulating the temperature, when frothing milk, is to keep your free hand patting the bottom of the jug. When it's too hot to allow you to hold your hand on it, it's hot enough.

Visit for more tips.

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Topics:  barista coffee

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