Coffee capsules are generally weaker in flavour than an espresso from your local coffee shop - this is simply due to the smaller capacity, literally resulting in less coffee. A cafe espresso is brewed using around 11 grams, whilst capsules can range from 5 to 5.8 grams. And unfortunately, while refillable capsules are one of the most environmentally sustainable and affordable coffee pod options on the market, their capacity can be even smaller, as the products are specially designed to be shorter to ensure no damage occurs to the appliance they are used in.
So, if you prefer a stronger-tasting cup of joe, but want to use your Nespresso machine and reusable coffee capsules, we've compiled our top tips below to help you perfect your brew method.
Start with the machine itself.
Water pressure / pump malfunction, mould build up, frequently full drip tray? It's well and truly time for a spring clean. Make sure your coffee capsule machine has been recently cleaned, descaled and is in optimum working condition. “Descaling” is the act of stripping calcium and lime deposits from your machine’s surfaces. If you use your machine often and want to ensure that it's always producing the best flavour, it should be cleaned once a week and descaled once every three months. Cleaning your coffee machine not only extends it's life, but also ensures the quality of the coffee you brew.
Tip: Don't - use vinegar! Vinegar doesn't remove coffee oils the way a professionally formulated coffee machine cleaner does. Do - Use a cleaning solution that will remove oils, stains and break down grime.
Invest in some real, fresh coffee.
Nespresso® state that they use 95% Arabicas and 5% Robustas in their Grands Crus capsules. To replicate this flavour intensity, you might like to try a similar blend. Otherwise, a strong dark roast, or Italian-style roast should help you to avoid a weak-tasting coffee. And remember - fresh is best. Head to your local roaster or cafe to chat about their available blends.
Tip: After some coffee recommendations? We asked our customers for their favourites. Here are some of the top tips for a great go-to blend - Veneziano Forza, Gigante Black Silk, Genovese Super Brazil. Have any other suggestions? Shoot us an email!
Use the right grind.
We recommend using a grind similar to that used for stovetop coffee brewing for optimal results. If you don't grind your own coffee beans fresh at home, ask your local cafe to grind the beans between "espresso" and "stovetop". If you do grind at home, using a burr grinder will help you achieve a better brew (blade grinders can create too much dust).
Tip: A grind that is too fine can be a common cause of watery coffee. We suggest experimenting with pressure - pack the coffee more loosely with minimal tamp, or simply fill and apply the Sticker Lid. At the other end of the scale, if your grind size is too coarse, we suggest applying more pressure when tamping.
Use the correct lid / top on your coffee pod.
Whilst Bluecup capsule users are restricted to a single lid option, SealPod and WayCap users might improve their brew by experimenting with their capsule lid. When using SealPod, the Espresso Lid is best for producing a richer coffee and crema. And WayCap users can simply experiment with the interchangeable Steel Filters (each one suited to a particular grind size) - for a very fine grind use a filter with more slots, and for a coarse grind a filter with minimal slots is best.
Double-brew it (and double your pleasure)!
Finally, to achieve a lovely, intense coffee, a generally foolproof method is simply to brew double ristretto style: Use two capsules and brew 2 x short shots (approx 25mL). The other bonus of brewing this way? Being a shorter extraction, a ristretto will actually extract less acidity from the coffee, resulting in a less bitter tasting cuppa.