How can good espresso be made with preground coffee or pods?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.
tJasC3

#1: Post by tJasC3 »

Last week I bought a really cheap espresso machine, for the office.
I totally fell for the promotional setup they had in the store. Two machines, same brand and model, one with pods and one with regular coffee.
I thought that by no means can a 70 euro machine produce good espresso but it did. I tasted it and instantly bought the thing.
Both shots were great and with a lot of good quality crema. The pod shot was a single, served in transparent plastic cup and the dark brown crema was 1cm thick.
The regular shot was even better, somewhere between a double and a single.
The thing is that I have tried many times and cannot achieve such great shots...
How do they manage to produce such great coffee on the demo bench?
The coffee was preground, Illy brand, so were the pods. Not even fresh ground.
What can I say.
Maybe they have tweaked machines and freshly ground coffee put in the Illy box.
Even a guy working at the store bought the machine, and he has achieved nothing more than me.
The machine itself looks pretty decent for such a pricetag. It has 15bar pump, cup heater, removable water tank. Not like the no-pump (steam pressure) machines usually sold at 50-100 euro.
The only weird thing is a small spring in the grouphead center... maybe something to do with pods.
Do you have any idea on how can good, or at least acceptable, espresso can be made with such a machine with preground coffee or pods?
Was that demo a complete fraud?
The only thing written on the machine is "Espresso Crema Office" and "Espresso, Tea, Chocolate", looks like the brand is "Moulinex" but I can't find it on the moulinex web site.

User avatar
Psyd
Supporter ♡

#2: Post by Psyd »

tJasC3 wrote:Last week I bought a really cheap espresso machine, for the office.
ve any idea on how can good, or at least acceptable, espresso can be made with such a machine with preground coffee or pods?
Was that demo a complete fraud?
The short answer is, "You can't", and "Yes, I think you were a bit misled".

I'd guess that the beans that they used were fresh ground, and that the pods were made for the demo. Beans are happiest when they haven't been out of the roaster for more than two weeks, and less than three to five days. Once they are roasted, they begin to outgas CO2, and after two weeks they are pretty much out of gas. CO2 content of the beans is going to play a large part in the quality of the espresso, and of the crema. Once you grind the coffee, you start to oxidize it fairly quickly, and you're not going to get decent results after fifteen minutes or so (some'll argue that if you answer the phone or run to the loo, your ground coffee is unusable when you get back), so your definition of 'good' may differ from some others.
Look at the other thread on this page about dialing in a new machine.
My suggestion is to return the 'cheap' machine, and get others in the office to pitch in on a decent machine, but more importantly, a decent grinder. Expect to spend in the vicinity of $300 US for such a thing. Here at least, maybe more in Greece. Then find a supplier of freshly roasted beans (if it doesn't have a roast date on it, you can bet it's not fresh) and start to grind your own. Think about the water, too, as the water is what makes up most of the drink. Bad water not only makes bad espresso, it makes machines hurt! You'll need a steaming pitcher and a tamper, and some cleaning supplies, or your machines will start to make bad espresso just about the time you learn to make it good.
Or keep the machine and buy a huge supply of milk and syrups, and learn to love candybar drinks.
There is the possibility that the machine (which, of course, I am totally unfamiliar with other than your description) is fine, and you just need to find the right beans and grind to make it work.
Let us know how things go.
Espresso Sniper
One Shot, One Kill

LMWDP #175