Unfortunately, coffee goes bad. Once coffee is roasted it becomes rapidly perishable. Coffee generally goes bad in two ways 1) Loss of the more volatile enzymatic high notes of the coffee aroma by simple diffusion and binding to degassing CO2 2) Lifelessness and creation of unpleasant flavors due to oxidation. The oils and proteins of the coffee react with an electron donor with an affinity equal to or less then the subject lipids (generally oxygen or sometimes water via hydrolysis) gradually turning the coffee first insipid then rancid. Once oxidation renders many of the oils vapid, the oxidation of linoleic triglyceride is accelerated, changing it from pleasant to unpleasant. Eventually the more saturated lipids in the coffee will succumb to oxidation and give a rancid tinge to the coffee. This lipid oxidation is similar to the fats in a piece of meat going bad.

The autodrip coffee maker is the most popular type of coffee maker in the US. Some autodrip makers can make a great cup, some simply cannot. A big item to look for is that the coffee maker brews at the correct temperature, which is 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. There are many brewers that don't brew within this range. The ones that I know do are Bunn, Technivorm, and Zojirushi. There are probably others that brew at the right temp to which I'm just not privy. Another item to look for is the water is evenly distributed amongst the coffee grounds so that you get even and full saturation. Cone-style filters help with this, as do a good shower head on the tube passing water over the grounds. A third item to look for is a hot plate under the coffee carafe, because if it has a hot plate you don't want the machine. Reheating coffee is bad, keeping coffee hot is good, so look for a maker that brews into a vacuumed double-walled carafe, an interior of glass is a little better for the coffee, an interior of stainless steel is a lot more durable.

   Further points I'd like to make is that one, its best to grind immediately before you brew, so unless you have a separate grinder, look for a machine with one built in, two, to let through a lot more of the coffees delicious aromatic oils its best to use a reusable gold plated filter instead of paper filters, three, keep your coffee maker clean (a good product for this in on our online store) and four, don't forget to match your kitchen decor. you can view brewers that meet our standards at our online store

1. Use cold hard water that tastes good.

2. Use fresh-roasted coffee (roasted less then 10 days ago). All coffee on our shelves is fresh. If you are getting coffee for your home espresso machine we suggest our Spro™ .

3. Keep your coffee in a cool, dry, spot in its air-tight, light reflective, and resealable bag it comes in. Reseal the bag after each use

4. Use the correct coffee to water ratio (about 50 grams per Liter) , most people use too little coffee.

5. Grind your coffee immediately before you brew using a burr-style grinder and the correct grind size for your brewer. We do not carry the blade-style grinders because they do not give a consistent grind.

6. Use a quality coffee brewer. If you use an autodrip brewer, use one of our permanent gold filters instead of paper filters. The quality of an autodrip brewer can have a large impact on the cup and we only carry brewers which we endorse.

7. If you need to keep several cups of coffee hot, do not use a warmer or reheat the coffee, instead , keep the coffee in a quality insulated container like one of our airpots, or use our brewer that brews directly into an insulated carafe.

8. Periodically clean your machine with one of the cleaners we carry specifically for that purpose. 9. Once you have all that down, its time to find which coffee blends or which origin coffees you like the most and enjoy!

Most home espresso machines can't make great espresso. The La Pavoni traditional manual lever machine (like the ones we sell in the store and online store here) can, with practice. To get a great shot with this machine one needs to start with quality fresh-roasted coffee, grind the beans correctly with a quality burr grinder, pack the grounds into the portafilter correctly, ensure the espresso is extracted at the correct temperature, and keep the machine clean. Here's a 10-step guide: (keep in mind this small uninsulated machine is involves very hot water at high pressure, so be careful)

1. Unscrew the top off the water tank, fill 3/4 full with cold filtered water, screw top back on.

2. Open steam wand valve and turn machine on

3. Once pressure gauge starts to rise, close the steam wand valve, and when the gauge reads 0.9BAR its ready for you to pull your first shot

4. Grind about 12 grams of coffee for each doubleshot.

5. Wipe portafilter clean and dry, fill with coffee and spread level in the basket.

6. Tamp down on the coffee with tamper fairly hard (about 30lbs. of force)

7. Secure portafilter back into machine and place preheated cup beneath.

8. Slowly and steadily raise the lever. When you reach the top, hold it there ten seconds, then smoothly and firmly (about 45lbs. of pressure) lower the lever.

9. Evaluate the espresso stream. If it is blond and gushes out, set your grinder a little finer and redo. If it is dark and just trickles, set your grinder a little coarser and redo. If it looks good, redo it anyway because the first shot out may be a little sour since the whole machine is not warmed up. Small grinder adjustments make big cup adjustments. (when redoing, wait a bit to remove the portafilter so that hot grounds and water don't spray everywhere, and knock the spent grounds out)

10. If you get a good espresso stream that took about 20 seconds to extract before your fifth shot, rejoice with a delicious espresso. Because after four shots the machine will be so hot it will burn the coffee, in which case you should turn it off to cool, and try again. (though some solve this by using frozen towels, or periodically turning the machine off and on 'surfing' the temperature range).

   These beautiful machines are well-built and really not that difficult to use once you have a good understanding of them. And the big plus is that with a skilled hand they can create the best espresso on the block.

 The Hario MSCS-2TB is a great little coffee grinder for daily home use or travel.

Click here for a step by step guide for using it.