Automatic machines which have a lot to offer
The fully automatic coffee machine is characterised by easy operation and great diversity. Coffee Times takes a look at the complex interior of these powerful machines.
Fully automatic coffee production at the touch of a button – what looks simple is actually rather complex: It takes sophisticated technology to ensure the enjoyment of a high-quality product in the end! A multifunctional coffee machine, which is the correct name of an automatic coffee machine, can have a capacity of about 260 cups of espresso and about 120 cups of café crème per hour. Each machine consists of several components which are adjusted to each other.
The grinder grinds the beans to the desired degree and fills the brew group. A pump supplies water through a continuous-flow water heater, which starts the brewing process in the brew group.
The pressure generated by the boiler, at which the coffee is pressed through the piston, is decisive for the characteristic formation of crema on the espresso and the extraction of disturbing oils. There may be differences in the piston diameter, which also makes a decisive contribution to the taste of the coffee. If it is typically 44 mm especially for espresso (in Italy), machines which are mainly designed for long cups (for the market outside Italy) have a diameter of 50 mm. Among the extras available for fully automatic machines the most important one is the milk frother. The milk needed for cappuccino or latte macchiato is frothed with hot water steam or a so-called cappuccinatore.
Even if there are sceptics – the results achieved by fully automatic machines do meet professional requirements; and there is the added advantage that their operation and maintenance is easier and requires less staff than is the case e.g. for portafilter machines. On top of this correct programming allows a broad range of beverages (cup lengths) of consistent quality. Nevertheless there is always the limitation that a fully automatic coffee machine cannot be a substitute for the perfect espresso made by a trained barista with its crema prepared manually in a portafilter machine.
1. Rinse for 15 min once or twice a day
2. Press button for rinsing and start
3. Compact cakes: right grind
What should you bear in mind, if you want to find the best coffee for your fully automatic coffee machine?
It takes a very special composition of beans to create a coffee blend that allows you to prepare all types of coffee without losing any flavour. Long cup, espresso or cappuccino: any length must be covered and flawless in flavour.
The classical espresso bean is not suitable for this purpose, because it may produce a bitter nuance in a long cup on the one hand, and on the other hand it needs the high exit temperature of a traditional espresso machine, which a fully automatic coffee machine does not reach, for the full development of its characteristic taste.
In commercial use fully automatic machines are usually adjusted for all lengths of coffee by specially trained technicians, when they are first installed.
For private purposes – if possible – you are urgently advised to adjust the degree of grinding, water quantity and temperature of the automatic coffee machine to the coffee blend to achieve best results.
Interview with Peter Schreyögg
Mr. Schreyögg, how does espresso for fully automatic machines have to be roasted?
An espresso coffee for fully automatic machines should not be oily or of very dark roast, because this causes a rancid taste after longer use and possibly caulking of the grinding section.
Can I use any espresso for fully automatic machines?
No, of course not! Due to the lower brewing temperature and shorter brewing duration than in a portafilter machine it is important to select beans especially designed for this purpose. A special roasting process is required to balance the acid and bitterness.
Would you buy a fully automatic machine?
Absolutely! But it should generate an exit temperature of the coffee of approx. 86° C for 25 ml and at least 15 seconds (portafi lter 25 seconds). Only then can an espresso be brewed, which is comparable to that from a portafilter.