I give it a 2
May 30, 2020 9:03 PM   Subscribe

How do I make a reasonable cappuccino with a Mr Coffee Maker?

I was gifted a Mr Coffee Maker Cafe Barista Espresso Machine. We made a cappuccino and it was...flavorless? Flat? Boring? Watery? I don't know - just terrible. We are still sheltering in place, and I won't be able to have a real live espresso drink for many weeks/possibly months. Is there anything I can do to get a decent cappuccino out of this machine?
posted by Toddles to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How’s your tamp technique?
posted by oceanjesse at 9:33 PM on May 30

Probably not, sorry. At best, it’ll taste ok but not really anything like espresso and steamed milk.

What kind of grinder do you have?
posted by supercres at 9:44 PM on May 30

The Amazon reviews have a lot of good tips especially the first top review. I'd trying that before giving up.
posted by Aranquis at 9:45 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]

To quote Mocha Joe, "You gotta have the beans". Maybe a stronger brand.
posted by night_train at 12:28 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]

Do your research, especially bean selection and storage. Get as much as you can out of the machine, and use it as a learning experience. Later you can thank the gifter for introducing you to quality coffee (only slightly tongue in cheek), and tell them how you have now upgraded to an even better (and much more costly) expresso machine.

Frankly, you have to set your short term expectations to 'what can I expect from $180?' It will take a much bigger investment than that to get good quality coffee at home, and if you are into things like latte and cappuccino for two, that goes double.
posted by GeeEmm at 2:57 AM on May 31

I have Mr's Coffee's previous model pump machine (ECMP-50) and I manage to make pretty good (to me, YMMV of course) espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes.

As others have noted, you have to have the beans. However, if the 1000 is anything like the 50, it can be kind of persnickety about the grind. Too fine, or tamped too tight, and you can actually cause the pressure to breach the o-ring seal where the portafilter fits. Too coarse and you get not espresso. But, a good grinder will cost you as much, if not more than, the coffee machine did.

If you want to try a preground coffee, I can heartily recommend Lavazza Espresso in the can. You can get it in a pouch, too, but it seems to be a coarser grind in the pouch. I get really good, reliable espressos from the Lavazza.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:32 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]

You want an espresso grind, but not so it's powdery. And you need to tamp it down such that the espresso almost drips out - if it's flowing (indicated by your description watery) your grind isn't fine enough.
posted by Rash at 9:26 AM on May 31

Many factors influence the outcome of a coffee drink. I'll ignore the milk steaming for now because that's a whole other variable, but we can talk about beans first, as other posters have mentioned, and then your shots.

- Grind size: different extraction methods (i.e. drip, espresso, french press, etc.) need differently sized grinds. Espresso needs a fine grind. If in this case you are using a drip grind for example, the grounds are too coarse which means that the water runs through too quickly and doesn't have time to pick up the coffee flavor. This is my guess as to why your shot is watery.
- Age: probably less of a factor but the older the beans are, the less flavor they can impart.
- Batch: sometimes you'll just get a bad batch of beans. Sometimes they might smell like potatoes, or hay, or leather, or other things that are not coffee. This one is also probably less of a factor but still something to consider.

- Each company will have a "recipe" for how to pull the best tasting shot with their beans. The variables here include input, output, and time. Each variable has a range that you want to fall into in order to pull an "acceptable" shot.
- Recipe example: Input is 18 grams (+/- 0.2 grams) of dry grounds. Water gets pulled through for 25-30 seconds (time). Output is 1.5-2.0 oz of a shot. So if you are following the recipe, you will need a scale, a timer, and shot glasses with ounce measurements. Good coffee shops will do this. *Note: I don't know if this is the recipe your beans call for. You'd have to look that up, but a general rule is that best tasting coffee comes from a 1:17 ratio of grounds to water.
- In your case, your shots might also be watery because the water is running for more than 30 sec, and you end up with, for instance, a 4oz watery shot instead.
- If your shots are pulling outside of the recipe variables, then you need to adjust the grind. If a shot is pulling too fast, the grind is too coarse. If the shot is pulling too slow, the grind is too fine.
- I've worked in third wave coffee for a while and have heard a number of contradicting ideas regarding tamping. My takeaway is to ignore specific numbers of pounds/inch or pressure or whatever; just make sure you are consistent with your own tamping technique, and that will be one more variable that you don't need to mess around with.

I hope this is helpful and not too much information overload; I love coffee nerdiness and could go on for ages! Lmk if you have any more questions!

Basic TLDR answer: use a finer grind!
More involved/effortful TLDR answer: follow the recipe!
posted by bruschetta_cat at 11:10 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]

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