Beem Espresso Grind Profession is a new easy-to-use manual espresso machine that takes the hassle out of making espressos, lattes and cappuccinos. And it comes from the home of espresso, latte and cappuccino. That’s right: Germany.
Making a successful espresso is much harder than you think, which is why there’s a name for someone who is officially recognised as an expert in the art – a ‘barista’. This, of course, should not be confused with the term ‘barrister’ who is someone hired by a solicitor to represent a case in court, as if you didn't know. To my knowledge, no barrister has ever made a successful espresso while defending a defendant in court, though I’m sure most judges wouldn’t turn down the offer of sipping on an arabica while slamming down the gavel.
Becoming a certified barista involves enrolling in a course that, on average, takes about three months to complete and sometimes a whole year. During this time the barista student will learn all about group heads, portafilters, extraction time, coffee blends, coffee weight, fineness of grind, water temperature, pump pressure and tamping pressure. Once he or she has the requisite barista certificate, they can then apply for a job at a coffee shop or start their own espresso bar business.
But you’re not here to enrol in a barista course. All you want to know is the quickest shortcut to a bona fide espresso that’s as good – or at least almost as good – as one made by a qualified barista. You could, for instance, cut out all the malarky and opt for the best capsule coffee machine which is fuss free but not what a true barista would call authentic. Or you could opt for the best bean-to-cup coffee machine which performs the entire process from grinding to extraction automatically. However, while most bean-to-cup machines are indeed very clever, some produce worse espressos than most coffee pod machines. So that leaves us with the humble manual espresso machine which has been around for eons. However, the trouble with most manual machines is that they require a modicum of barista knowledge to get anything even remotely drinkable out of them.
And that brings me to the Beem Espresso Grind Profession, a manual machine that I’m finding extremely easy to use and, more importantly, easy enough to experiment with. I say ‘experiment’ because, as a non barista, it allows me to fiddle with just three parameters – fineness of grind, volume of coffee and amount of pressure during tamping – while the machine takes care of all the other stuff like pump pressure, water temperature and water volume.
Beem Espresso Grind Profession: Price and availability
Beem Espresso Grind Profession: design
Beem is a German manufacturer that’s been involved in the coffee industry for 50 years. However, it’s only since moving under the umbrella of the DS group of companies that the company started concentrating on domestic coffee and tea making equipment. The Beem Espresso Grind Profession is one of its most recent products.
Let’s take a closer look. At 39.5cm in height, 34cm in depth and 33cm in width, the Beem Espresso Grind Profession is quite large in stature but not ungainly so. Given its keen sub-£400 price, you won’t find much stainless steel on board aside from the tray and the front fascia. In fact, the top, back and sides are all polypropylene plastic that’s been treated to look like metal and that’s okay by me because I like the overall design. It’s simple, it looks a bit like a pro-spec coffee bar machine and there aren’t too many knobs and switches on it. I especially like the black bakelite-style top fascia which gives it an attractive retro look. Let’s just say it looks very fetching on my worktop squeezed in-between my all stainless-steel Grind One Nespresso machine and shiny red Smeg Lavazza A Modo Mio podulator.
Beem Espresso Grind Profession: features
The Beem’s interface is very simple to get a handle on. Aside from the power button, there are five other touch sensitive controls on the front fascia – two grind buttons for single and double-shot, two extraction buttons for single and double-shot and a water temperature setting. It also has a huge pressure dial with a highlighted section in the centre. You will come to love this centrepiece because it will tell you when the machine’s pressure has hit the sweet spot for an optimum shot replete with creamy head of crema.
Heading round to the rear, there’s a huge opaque 2.8-litre water container with integrated handle so you can lift it out for easy filling, preferably with bottled spring water. Moving forward, there’s a vaguely warm plinth on which to store about four espresso cups and just to the left of it a very decent integrated 250g burr-type coffee grinder with a rubberised ‘aroma’ seal.
The machine is factory preset to dispense 12g of coffee for single espresso and 20g for a double but this can be changed by holding in the grinder button until your preferred dose is dispensed. I love the simplicity of this grinder and the pro-like way in which it dispenses the ground coffee into the portafilter – simply place the empty portafilter between the two arms and press either the single-shot of double-shot grind buttons. You can easily adjust the grind setting by turning the whole grinder bowl left or right a few notches – while it’s actually grinding and not while the burrs are static. There are 30 grind settings so you shouldn't have an issue setting your preferred consistency.
The twin-spout portafilter is a heavyweight non-pressurised chunk of steel that feels substantial in the hand. It comes with two filter baskets – one for single shots and the other for doubles. It’s accompanied by a chunky coffee tamper that weighs a substantial 388g. This means you don’t need to add too much force on the coffee for a perfect tamp.
Veering over to the right you’ll find the commercial-spec steam wand which articulates in all directions on a satisfyingly stiff ball joint. And just around the corner on the right, there’s a robust dial for dispensing either steam for cappuccinos or boiling water for Americanos. I love the satisfying click of this dial, too.
The Beem arrives with preset water volumes of 60ml for singles and 90ml for doubles. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll end up with 60ml of liquid in the cup since some of the water remains in the coffee powder puck. Again, water volume can be adjusted by holding in the single or double-shot button. Likewise, you can also adjust the water temperature to four levels – 90˚, 92˚, 94˚ and 96˚C. The factory preset temp is set at 92˚C.
Rare for an espresso machine in this price tier, the Beem Espresso Grind Profession comes with two thermal blocks, one for espresso extraction and another for steaming. This means you can prepare an espresso and froth milk at the same time. The machine’s pressure, meanwhile, is rated at 15 bar but that’s more likely to be the pump’s maximum pressure rather than the more modest 9-11 bar pressure that’s used to extract rich and concentrated espressos.
Everything about this machine feels solid and exceedingly durable, from the beefy portafilter, solid 58mm café group head and heavyweight tamper to the tactile milk frothing dial and heavy-duty wand.
Beem Espresso Grind Profession: how to get the most out of the Beem
I profess to not being anywhere near barista level so I found this machine a joy to use simply because I could experiment with different grinds and puck pressure until the needle on the pressure dial hit the magic sweet spot – bang in the middle.
I should add that I used some cheap coffee beans I had knocking about for my experiments because I ground at least eight cup worths of coffee before I knocked it out of the ball park. I wasn’t looking for taste at this juncture, I was looking for a thin stream of gold and a decent crema.
My first attempt was woeful because I set the grind level to around 5 and the coffee was far too fine for the water to penetrate. Hence the needle went way over to the right and absolutely nothing came out of the portafilter. I then went in the opposite direction to around 15 and the coffee came out like dishwater. In the end I found my magic grinding spot to be at around 9 from a range of 30.
Another issue I had to master was the amount of pressure I applied to the coffee in the basket using the supplied tamper. Too much pressure and the water would filter through slowly leaving half a cup of black mud; too little and the coffee would pour out too quickly and create only a modicum of crema. After three attempts I finally nailed it.
But then I decided to start faffing about with the factory settings and reduced the amount of coffee from the grinder by about two grams. Don’t ask why. Anyway, the upshot is that, while the extraction was perfectly dialled, the puck was a soggy mess instead of being nice and dry like you see at a barista bar. So I emailed an expert I know, Kev Lewis of coffeeblog.co.uk and Coffee Kev on YouTube, and he dispensed this nugget of sage advice: ‘with a standard basket like that supplied with the Beem, a wet puck would usually hint at under-dosing, so I'd try upping the dose a bit and see if that helps. The headspace (gap between the coffee and the shower screen) being too big due to too small a volumetric setting can lead to sloppy wet pucks, but it doesn't usually lead to any negativity where extraction is concerned. It does depend on the basket and the portafilter etc, but usually I'd expect the start of the bevel on the tamper to be about level with the rim of the basket, so it's not sinking down much into the basket and isn't sticking out of it. Granted, it’s not the end of the world, but it's so much more satisfying to knock out a nice dry puck that just pops out of the basket and lands in the knock box’. I followed Kev’s advice and now feel like a proper barista – only without a certificate to prove it.
Beem Espresso Grind Profession: performance
I’ve tested quite a few manual espresso machines and I don’t think I’ve had one that is so easy to experiment with. For me it was all about getting the needle on the pressure dial as near to centre as possible. With my favourite Spiller & Tait Signature beans in the hopper, I now get espresso after espresso with perfect crema and a rich bold flavour that knocks the socks off. The milk frother, too, is a cinch to use and it produces a very silky finish.
Beem Espresso Grind Profession: verdict
If you’re a beginner and looking for a manual espresso machine that’s intuitive and an excellent performer whether it’s making straight espressos or milky drinks like cappuccinos and lattes, the Teutonic Beem Espresso Grind Profession is well worth the investment. At a smidge under £400, it’s a steal.
Looking for a different type of manual espresso machine? Check out our guide to the Best Manual Espresso Machines