The ultimate guide to setting up a DeLonghi machine

Simple how-to article about setting up DeLonghi bean-to-cup machines by Maarten Hol, owner of Blue Eyes Coffee

Many home baristas think DeLonghi bean-to-cup machines should not be taken seriously, because they are too automated and have little to play with, so they do not produce the results they desire. Often this is due to a lack of knowledge how to adjust it properly, rather than lack of functionality of the machine or grinder quality. This article is about taking your DeLonghi to the limit to make the best espresso possible!

Required tools:

What is the best espresso possible?

At Blue Eyes Coffee we keep the following standard1:

  • Coffee grounds dose: 18g (0.63 oz.)
  • Liquid out: 30g (1oz)
  • Extraction time: 25-30s
  • Extraction pressure: 8 bar (116 psi)
  • Extraction temperature: 88-92deg C (190-198 deg F)

Since there is no way to adjust the temperature and pressure on DeLonghi bean-to-cup machines, we assume these to be about right. Parameters that we can change: coffee dose, liquid dose and coffee grind size.

Coffee dose

Set the dose knob to max. The DeLonghi will produce about 15g (0.53 oz) of coffee at this setting, a little bit dependent on the grind size. You can verify this by doing the following:

  1. Remove the coffee disposal tray
  2. Clean it out
  3. Put it on the scale and tare it
  4. Press one of the coffee making buttons
  5. Wait until the grinder has completed grinding
  6. Press the off button and wait until machine has shut down fully
  7. Remove the coffee disposal tray and weigh it on the scale

Liquid out

Using the same ratio as the espresso standard, we should have about 25g (0.88 oz) of liquid coming out. If you found a different number for the coffee dose with your machine in the procedure above, simply adjust according to the same ratio.

  1. Put a cup on the scale, tare it and put it all together under the spout of the machine (scale + cup)
  2. Press one of the ‘make coffee’ buttons (any will do, this will be the only button you will ever use again on your machine) and keep it pressed down until the light starts blinking (about when the grinder is done grinding)
  3. Watch the scale closely and hit the button again as soon as it reaches the goal (25g/0.88oz or whatever you calculated for ‘liquid out’
  4. Now your liquid is set to the right amount

Time

On the topside of your machine, inside the coffee bean compartment there is a grinder adjustment knob. Use this to adjust grind size until you are within the desired time windows of 25-30 seconds. If it takes too long, grind coarser, if it takes not long enough, grind finer.

Conclusion

Now you have you machine all set up. It should have a rich crema (not white, not dark brown) , a balanced flavor (not sour, not overly bitter) and smooth body (not watery).

If you think espresso is to strong, just add hot water, rather than increase liquid out (pull a long shot). If you pull long shots, you are most likely over-extracting your coffee, resulting is bitter characterless coffee.

1 Loosely based on the SCA standards (https://scanews.coffee/2018/02/01/defining-ever-changing-espresso-25-magazine-issue-3/)

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