Don't you hate that first coffee of the day?
You don't even have to drink it to know its bad. Chuck it out and start again!
If you're running low on beans though, (or you are running low on cash), this first coffee may be your only option. Or sometimes, let's be honest, you can't be bothered mucking around and just want some caffiene in your system.
So if you can't bring yourself to throw out the first espresso of the morning, here's two tips that will make it more palatable.
1. Heat it UP!
Problem: The main issue with the first coffee is that most of your machine parts, your portafilter, basket and cups are all still cold, or just barely getting warm. I'm not just talking about the boiler here. All that metal in the pipes and grouphead takes a while to get up to operational temperature and can have a drastic effect on the quality of your coffee.
Solution: If you had an endless supply of coffee or work in a cafe, you would just run a couple of shots through and throw them away. This will get everything up to temperature and ready to go.
Cheap solution: Seeing that the main problem is temperature, run water through your head without coffee first. An even better solution is to do a back flush (with WATER only, no chemical here) to get everything hot and raring to go! Make sure you do this with the portafilter you'll be using for your coffee though, a cold portafilter won't help you.
Be sure to preheat your cup and basket as well.
2. Purge your grinder!
Problem: Old grinds have a habit of sticking in the doser and chutes of your grinder. Your first coffee may well then have coffee that was ground the day before with poor results for your taste buds. Note: If you are already throwing away your first espresso shot, you've already solved this problem.
Solution: To make sure everything is fresh, the quickest and easiest way is to simply grind a few grams of beans to purge the grinder of the old coffee.
Cheap solution: A cheaper but more time consuming option is to remove as many of the old grinds as you can before grinding. There a few ways you can achieve this but the easiest is to use a brush. Or, If there are still grinds in the chute, take the hopper off, put your palm over the grinder, sealing off the collar and pump like a plunger. This will force air through the chute, taking the old grinds with it.
Note: To save time and hassle in the morning, try to do this the night before.
Making coffee at home involves some compromises but throwing out your first coffee of the day doesn't always have to be one of them. So give these tips a go and let me know in the comments below how you went.
Remember to keep it hot and fresh!
the Home Ground Barista