Recommendations (from Francesco Illy)
Because TEN is a system borrowed from the professionals in Italy. It is used in many restaurants and was invented for one purpose: to offer the best possible espresso, in plenty of different blends and origins while keeping the coffee always fresh. And having the coffee powder between two layers of filter paper is very environmentally friendly.
So what does "professional" mean?
That to achieve that excellence it must be used as it is used in Italian restaurants: keeping it always spotlessly clean and taking great care.
Keeping it clean?
As someone who was born in coffee, here's how I do it:
- I take a small cup and heat it with water drawn from the spout without a pod (2)
- I discard the water
- I carefully insert the pod, making sure to insert it correctly into the filter (3)
- I close the lever slowly, making sure the pod is inserted correctly, and then I push the water release button
- The pump pushes hot water through the coffee at the right temperature and the coffee slowly pours down into the cup with a wonderful foam and all its aromas
- I stop the water when I have as much coffee as I want
If have to make more cups of coffee immediately, I make them – if possible – one after the other.
And then I enjoy my coffee. Full-bodied, sweet and deliciously fragrant. Fantastic, better than in most Italian bars.
But that's not all! Immediately after finishing my coffee, I absolutely must:
- Open the assembly by raising the lever and very carefully remove the pod just used (4)
- Reclose the assembly by moving the lever downward
- Pour plenty of water in the used cup
- The water will be brown (5) because it is removing the residue of the coffee just extracted (filter and spout)
- I discard the first water and repeat the operation, now the water is perfectly clear
And with that I have finished: the machine has been rinsed and is spotlessly clean for the next espresso or café crème.
That's why I call it "professional": it does requires care and attention. But it makes a professional cup of coffee.
(2) That way I rinse the extraction assembly before making my coffee
(3) If I put the pod in crooked, I might "pinch" it when I close the assembly with the lever: that causes spillage and improper extraction
(4) I make sure to hold the lever open all the way: if the extraction chamber is half-closed, I might tear the pod when removing it. Which is precisely what I want to avoid.
(5) TEN has an extraction power substantially higher than any other system, which is why the coffee comes out so creamy and full-bodied. But it's not possible to pour every last drop into the cup: a few drops will remain in the machine. And if you leave them there, what happened to me will happen to you and you'll never forget it: those residual drops oxidise and will give an oxidised smell to the next cup of coffee you make a few hours later. For that reason rinsing is essential.