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How to get the settings right on automatic coffee machines

Just bought an expensive automatic coffee machine but your brew tastes like dishwater? That’s frustrating. Here are a few tips on how to fine-tune your automatic coffee maker for a tasty cup of coffee

Admittedly, I wasn’t the one who came up with the settings I’m talking about here. Credit goes to James Hoffmann who published a video on this a year ago. I’ve taken up his ideas and techniques and have added three videos at the end of this article. They’re all about getting thesettings right on the three best-selling fully automatic machines in our range.

1. Choosing the right coffee beans

I can’t say it often enough: the beans will make or break your coffee. Stay away from big brands that roast coffee beans way too dark. On top of this, you never know how long the beans have been in their packet for – losing a bit of their flavour one day at a time. A simple trick for recognising good coffee? The roasting date and country of origin are printed on the package – ideally even a specific place of origin. Make sure the roasting date isn’t more than half a year in the past. Of course, good coffee isn’t cheap. But it’s worth it.

Vicafe Orangutan (1000 g, Medium roast)
Coffee beans

Vicafe Orangutan

1000 g, Medium roast

Turm Kaffee Brazil Yellow Bourbon (250 g)
Coffee beans
Quantity discount
12.–per piece for 2 units48.–/1kg

Turm Kaffee Brazil Yellow Bourbon

250 g


Note: Unfortunately, you can’t see the roasting date in the product descriptions displayed in our shop. The coffee beans above usually meet my freshness expectations.

2. Setting the right temperature

If you’ve gone for lighter roasted coffee, select the highest temperature in the coffee machine settings. If you’re using really dark roasted beans, you can skip this step. You’ll find the settings in a submenu of your machine. The manual will help you.

3. Getting the grind setting right

The preset grinding degree of your machine should be fine. If the coffee comes out in a dense stream and is watery, set the grinder finer. If it drips out slowly, go for a slightly coarser grind setting.

4. Weighing the ground coffee

This is James Hoffmann’s real hack. You want to determine how many grams of coffee are ground in one go. This will determine how much water you use. The coffee-to-water ratio should be 1:4. In other words, you want 40 millilitres of water for 10 grams of coffee. To weigh the amount of ground powder, first set the machine to espresso and the highest strength. All manufacturers use a different name for this function. If in doubt, check the manual. Most manufacturers define strength as the amount of ground coffee. You’re looking for the largest amount of coffee.

Remove the empty collection container from the machine, weigh it and put it back into the machine. Then press the espresso button, wait until the machine has finished grinding and then unplug it. As soon as you plug it in again, the machine goes through a reset process and disposes of the previously ground coffee in the collection container – without it having come into contact with water. Weigh the collection container again and determine the difference – or weigh the dispensed coffee powder, whichever is easier. You’ll usually end up with between 6 and 10 grams of coffee.

When I tried it, I came across a special case that forced me to remove and weigh the entire unit. Check out the video about the Philips machine.

5. The right settings for you fully automatic coffee machine

Now you can set the amount of water for a well-balanced espresso. It’s four times the weight of the ground coffee in millilitres. Of course, the result doesn’t compare to an espresso from a portafilter machine. But with this trick, you get very balanced espressos compared to the dishwater that often comes out of fully automatic machines. And what about a large cup of coffee (referred to as a «Kaffee Crème» in Switzerland)? According to Kaffeemacher:innen, go for a ratio of 1:10. You know how to do the rest.

The right settings for our three best-selling fully automatic machines

Philips 5400

Siemens EQ 700

De'Longhi Primadonna Soul

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When I flew the family nest over 15 years ago, I suddenly had to cook for myself. But it wasn’t long until this necessity became a virtue. Today, rattling those pots and pans is a fundamental part of my life. I’m a true foodie and devour everything from junk food to star-awarded cuisine. Literally. I eat way too fast. 

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