can-this-smart-capsule-machine-make-better-coffee?

Can this smart capsule machine make better coffee?

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I love capsule coffee. Not just for its unmatchable convenience-to-quality ratio, but the sheer amount of variety of coffee there is to try at the push of the button. After all, if you’re invested in maximising pleasure, it’d be remiss to not have a coffee type that best suits every occasion – be it a short or long drink, iced or hot, milk or without. 

Which is why the possibilities of the Morning Machine got me visibly excited. Dreamt up by coffee powerhouses Leon Foo of PPP coffee, and Andre Chanco of Yardstick coffee, the Morning Machine, put simply, is a smart capsule machine. 

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How smart? To begin with, the three main coffee-brewing variables of water temperature, pressure, and volume are all fully customisable. This means having control over the extraction of the coffee, making it possible to maximise getting the desirable compounds, while avoiding undesirable traits like too much bitterness or acidity.

 The machine also uses a weighing scale instead of a flow meter to accurately measure how much coffee has been dispensed. Even beyond that, the machine allows for pressure profiling – a technique that varies the pressure over the process of brewing in order to, well, get a better cup.

Customising a brew though, requires no small amount of knowledge and an intimate understanding of one’s beans. That’s way too much work for a morning cuppa, and a little too much coffee for me to drink if the process of customising the perfect cup meant doing trial-and-error.

Thankfully, the Morning Machine’s tagline is “brew with intention”. That is, recreating coffee as intended by the roasters. To do that, Morning has partnered with some of the best roasters in the world – like UK’s Colonna and Australia’s St. Ali – to provide capsules and brew recipes for the machine. 

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Using It

The Morning Machine comes with 10 default recipes, each accounting for a different style of drinking, including short and long brews, dark and light roasts, and even options for a short brew that accounts for the addition of milk; as well as a Kyoto-style drip coffee that utilises lower temperature and pressures. All this can be selected using a rotating dial/touchscreen combination that feels pretty intuitive for anyone that’s ever handled an electronic device.

screenshot-morning-app

For even more control, there’s the Morning app, an easy-to-navigate platform that hosts the pressure, volume, and temperature controls. Pre-set brews for specific coffee capsules are also initiated from the app, which contains recipes from partner roasters, as well as some of the more popular, market-leading capsules. 

One of my favourite parts of the Morning Mahine though, is that pre-infusion (the process of saturating the grounds before pumping water through to optimise extraction) is already pre-programmed into the machine. This was something I had to do through brute force with my conventional capsule machine – by starting a brew and then manually forcing it to stop a few, imprecise seconds in.

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Side by side comparison

Using Morning’s Tried & True capsules, I made two long brews side by side – one with a market-leading brand (let’s call this brand X) machine, and the other with the Morning Machine.

There was an immediate difference as soon as the brewing started – with the Morning Machine boasting a more steady flow. The crema from the Morning is also consistently finer, although insignificantly so.

morning-coffee

Coffee made with the Morning Machine (left) vs coffee made with my old machine (right). Note the finer, smoother crema on the left.

Most importantly though, in a blind taste test, Morning’s brews (with their own capsules) noticeably have more depth, complexity, and flavour. 

Using brand X’s own capsules though, yields very similar flavours whether brewed from its own machine, or the Morning. 

Is the Morning Machine worth the buy?

For coffee geeks, it’s an immediate yes. For anyone with even a moderate interest in coffee (or even tea, given the machine’s ability to dispense water at precise temperatures and volumes), it’s plenty of fun, and a relatively low-priced piece of equipment compared to an espresso machine. 

Pros:

  • Scratches nearly every coffee geek itch possible – without the need for a significant investment in equipment, training, or even just bags of beans. 
  • Can be optimised for any kind of capsule – conventional machines usually don’t work optimally with compostables. 
  • Comparably better coffee with the right recipe.
  • Elegant interface and great UX, especially for a Kickstarter.

Cons

  • There is a learning curve.
  • Weight calibration can cause the machine to sometimes not detect cup placement sometimes, and can be a little fiddly.
  • No option for inbuilt milk steamer.
  •  The machine chimes when done – so everyone knows I’m making coffee and I end up making coffee for the whole house. 

More details can be found at the Morning website.

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