Guide for a new super auto owner

turick

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Nov 25, 2014
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Hi all -- first post here. I just purchased a Saeco Exprelia EVO for my wife for Christmas. This is our very first experience in a step up from a cheap drip-brew machine. I've watched a few reviews on youtube and it seems like there are a lot of variables that go into creating a single drink. I have many questions and was wondering if there is some sort of newbie how-to guide for such machines somewhere? Here are some of the questions I have running through my head:


  1. The grinder can be adjusted from coarse to fine, depending on what kind of drink you're making and they type of bean you're using. I'm planning on purchasing Lavazza Super Crema beans, but have no idea how to even judge what grind I should use based on this bean or what I would be looking for. Also, which types of drinks should you use a coarse vs medium vs fine grind on?
  2. The Saeco has an "SBS" (Saeco Brewing System) that consists of a manual dial that allows you to adjust the flow rate of the espresso and apparently effects the pressure inside the machine. When would you want a fast flow vs a slow flow?
  3. What kind of milk should be used for froth? I've read that they're really designed for the boxed, non-refrigerated milks you find in Europe, but those seem to be insanely expensive on Amazon. Is whole milk fine? What about half & half or a flavored creamer traditionally used in regular coffee (don't hate on me - I have no idea what I'm doing here!)
  4. What other accessories are good to have on hand? If you really only use regular milk for frothing, should I have sugar pourer? Flavored syrups? Anything else? Any specific product recommendations on any of these?

Any advice for a clueless newbie who wants to have everything in order for his wife on Christmas morning would be greatly appreciated!
 

shadow745

Active member
Aug 15, 2005
1,592
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Central North Carolina
1. Depends on the strength you desire. I seriously doubt many super auto grinders will go fine enough to achieve a 30+ second extraction. Wouldn't waste my time on Lavazza as I've read it's imported (same as Illy, others) and will be quite stale by the time it reaches you. There will be nothing "super crema" about it. Source a local roaster, coffeeshop, etc that offers fresh roasted coffee or you will be starting behind the 8 ball.

2. Same as #1, depends on how mild or wild you want the espresso to be.

3. I prefer whole milk as the fat content will give great all-around texture, taste, etc. 2% is OK, but nothing leaner than that unless you must.

4. Depends on what drinks you plan to create. Espresso and the many drinks that use it as a foundation is an acquired taste and there is no right or wrong, just what you like. Experiment with different coffees, etc. until you find something you're happy with. It makes no difference what others like.
 
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turick

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Nov 25, 2014
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Thank you very much for your reply, shadow! I've heard that a lot, that the beans need to be fresh. I'll try to find somewhere close to get fresh roasted beans.

On the other questions, I think you may have underestimated my level of noobness :) For #1, which grind provides more strength, a coarse or fine grind? For #2, which flow is wild and which flow is mild? It sounds like you're saying there is a relationship between the 2 as well... depending on how fine the grind is, you need the correct flow (assuming that is the extraction time variable) to match. Is that correct? Any advice on what to look for in the final product to find the right balance? My wife and I both like really strong coffee.

It sounds like you're saying to just use milk, no cream/creamer. I'll just stick with whole milk.

For the last question, it is more of a general question of what is possible. Again, I'm really uninformed and didn't even think of flavored syrups until I saw a picture of somebody's home set up earlier this morning. I am a straight coffee drinker... no sugar, no cream, no milk. My wife and kids like crazier stuff. My wife is more about fancy flavors, the kids are more about the sugary, fancy flavors. It'll be up to them to experiment, but I'm just curious, what are the tools with which to experiment? I would like to provide a few options for Christmas morning that everybody can tinker with. I'm thinking about trying a Torani syrup 6 pack I found on Amazon (can't post links, it's item B003PFWNSE), but is there anything else that I should consider besides syrup and sugar to have a nice little flavor station? Anything else that is common to make fun/fancy espresso/cappuccino/latte drinks with?

Thank you again for your help!
 

shadow745

Active member
Aug 15, 2005
1,592
4
Central North Carolina
Finer the grind the smaller the particle size, giving you a more compressed/dense puck. This slows the water flow down, which gives you a higher degree of extraction. Coarser grind is the opposite. The window of opportunity for espresso is quite narrow. For example, if 0-45 is under extracted and 55-100 is over extracted 46-54 would be the narrow window where it all falls into place. Too fine/coarse, over/under dose on the ground coffee, etc. will throw things out of balance and you will taste the difference immediately once you know what you're looking for.

Remember there is no right or wrong as taste is subjective. Old school thought is that espresso should be dark, oily, bitter, etc., but espresso is going to be an amplified version of the coffee used to create it... nothing more/nothing less. Espresso is sensitive in that the extraction process magnifies any flaws in the coffee, brew pressure/temperature, etc. and really brings out those flaws. That is why coffee must be really fresh for espresso as it isn't nearly as forgiving as other brew methods.

If you want to create milk based drinks (lattes, cappuccinos) then yes use whole milk or whatever you normally consume. If you want to use flavored creamers, etc., then make an Americano (espresso/hot water) and add creamer to taste. This will be similar to drip coffee for most people. In that case always dilute the drink and not the coffee. Meaning don't skimp on the amount of ground coffee used to make a drink, just add more or less water/milk/creamer for your taste.

For most people I would have some chocolate and caramel sauce (Hershey's is OK), a handful of flavored syrups like vanilla, caramel, hazelnut, etc. (Torani's is good all-around) and some cinnamon and cocoa powder for a sprinkle on top of the drink. Don't forget the whipped cream as that has become a staple item with lots of coffee drinks. With a handful of flavoring additives you can create dozens of drink options.
 
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turick

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Exactly the information I was looking for! Thank you very much shadow!
 

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