Here at Five Senses, we get a lot of questions from folks wanting to know how to get a decent cup of coffee from their super automatic coffee machines. And when duty calls, we’ve got your back. Just let it be known that we are in no way condoning this machine — it will never give you the best result in the cup. Nevertheless, we do realise that it is the most convenient, hence popular, choice for work places servicing many staff and having numerous operators. So let’s take a look at how you can make the most out of your super automatic machine.

1) Make the shot length the shortest it can go.

This will give you the maximum ‘good’ flavour you’re after in your shot. Don’t confuse a long shot and the bitterness that comes with it with ‘strength’. If it’s maximum caffeine you want, run through the entire shot process twice, or even three times! Hmmm, maybe not that much! Whatever you decide, don’t settle for watery, bitter espresso.

2) Make the dose setting the highest it can go, or give it the maximum grind time.

Simply put, more coffee = more coffee. This will give your shot the most opportunity to get as much real coffee extraction as possible.

3) Set the grind to its optimal setting.

Because the grind is on a timed setting, coarsening the grind will actually give you a larger dosage of coffee, which may seem the most optimal. However, the finer you can grind on these machines, the better it will be for the actual extraction. You may need to play around with this step a bit. Start by setting the grind the finest it can go. You want shots to pour as slowly, and with as dark a colour as possible. If you are not getting this result, try moving a notch in the coarser direction until the desired results are achieved.

Be aware that setting the grind to the max coarseness may overload the device, as you’ll be pushing the machine very close to its dosage limit. Therefore, setting your machine to its maximum coarseness is FAR from the optimal setting.

4) Use quality filtered water

The water you use is almost as important as the beans. I think of it as cooking with supermarket brand oil compared to that gourmet stuff you get in the fancy shops. Once you actually taste the difference, there’s really no other option. Plus your machine will like it more and should be less susceptible to problematic scaling. The easiest and cheapest way to get your hands on quality filtered water is to use one of those Brita water jugs.

We hope this helps a bit, and that you begin to see an improvement in your cup. Of course, if you are still not satisfied with the result, and unable to convince your boss to fit a single group Synesso into next year’s budget, we recommend getting a Baratza for your desktop and a Clever Coffee Dripper for your drawer. We know people who do this and claim that it has given new meaning to their morning routine. Three words of advice: charge for coffee! People will smell your filter brewing and form a line at your desk. Seriously.

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