Coffee Bean Selection and Grind Settings for Super Automatic Espresso Machines

by Marc Buckman March 10, 2017

So, you have your new super automatic coffee machine and you’re excited to load it up with some of your favorite beans, push a button, and enjoy an excellent coffee, espresso, or milk-based beverage.

Hey Coffee Lovers, Marc here from Whole Latte Love. Today, let’s talk about how to select good beans for your machine, including what to look for and what to stay away from. Along the way I’ll have a pro tip, go over how to adjust your grinder for the best flavor, and have some specific bean recommendations.

Choosing and Using the Right Coffee Beans

Selecting good beans is about flavor, of course, but it’s also very important for proper machine operation. There are two types of beans that can cause problems: dark roasted beans with an oily surface sheen and beans with added flavoring. So do not use beans with shiny oily surfaces or added flavoring. Beans that like that produce coffee that is gummy or sticky. Over time it can clog the coffee ground chute between your machine’s grinder and brew unit.

A couple of well-known brands, not picking on anyone in particular here, to stay away from are the very dark roasts from Starbucks, Kirkland, and Peet’s. Lighter roasts with no oily shine from those brands are absolutely okay.

If you like dark roasts, here are some alternatives that get that flavor and are fine to use in super automatic machines. We like Filicori Gran Crema Forte, illy dark roast, Gimmie! Coffee’s dark roast, and Maromas Platinea.

If dark roasts aren’t your thing, or you’re looking to go beyond the typical and try something new, read until the end for some recommended medium roasts, as well as our favorite beans for milk-based drinks.

Pro Tip: Beans are often over roasted to cover up favor defects in inferior, low-quality coffees.

Always be just a little bit suspicious of those very dark roasted beans, if they have an oily surface sheen, in many cases that is the flavor (bad or good) that has been roasted out of the bean.

Now, be wary of flavored coffees that you can buy at a local supermarket. When I say flavored, I’m talking about flavors and aromatics added after roasting, and not flavor that was naturally in the bean.

Roasted coffee beans.

Beans like this will have a lot of shine and a dark roast. Flavored whole beans should not be used in super automatic machines. If you really like flavored coffee, you can use it in pre-ground form through the bypass doser of your machine.

What Grind Setting Should I Use?

The two things to consider here are the type of coffee you’re making and the and the roast level of your beans. What you want to do is tend toward a finer grind for shorter coffees like espresso, and set coarser for a regular, longer coffee.

For roast level, tend toward a finer grind for a lighter roast and a coarser grind for a darker roast. In the end, we suggest giving more weight in determining your grind setting to the length of your coffee over your bean’s roast level.

Now, a couple of things to keep in mind when changing your grind setting:

First, it’s typically okay to adjust a grind coarser multiple steps all at once. But, when adjusting finer, adjust just one notch at a time, brew, then adjust again as needed. If you can adjust the grinder while it is grinding, you can adjust multiple steps finer in one go, but again, only make multi-step finer adjustments with the grinder actually running.

Grind settings.

Be aware that is may take a number of brewing cycles to get the full effect of grind size adjustments in your cup. This is because most machines have adaptive brewing systems that adjust the coffee dose after making the grind size adjustment.

Our Coffee Bean Choices For Super Automatic Machines

To finish up, as promised, here are some medium roasts that we really like. From Parisi Artisan, check out their 24th Street Blend and Sumatra single origin beans. Both of those are great choices as stepping stones to more exotic coffees.

For espresso lovers, one of our favorites is Gimmie! Coffee’s Leftist Espresso Blend. It’s made up of shade-grown beans and is balanced from start to finish with chocolate, ripe fruit, and toasted hazelnut.

For milk-based drinks, our favorite by far is Maromas Orphea. Our customer give it consistent 5-star reviews. It’s an amazing coffee with rich, long lasting crema and a chocolate flavor that’s never bitter and just works in a cappuccino or flat white.

Thanks for reading, I hope you’ll explore Whole Latte Love to learn more about everything coffee.

Marc Buckman
Marc Buckman

Marc is Whole Latte Love's resident videographer and expert on everything coffee. He built our YouTube channel from the ground up in 2009, demystifying the world of coffee for upwards of 100k subscribers by producing over 1000 in-depth videos. Marc enjoys hiking, scuba diving, and saving the lives of his coworkers when the kitchen runs out of coffee by sharing some of his own.