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Topic: Newbie Espresso Questions... Day 1 (8 msgs / 217 lines)
1) From: Larry Dorman
I'm assuming I'll have new questions for a while to come - most of
them newbie questions - so I'm trying to make the subject something
appropriate and threadable.  We'll see how it works...
Anyway, I've just drawn my first three shots and already have some
questions.  (The first shot went right down the sink - man that was
some bitter stuff...)  The second shot (a double), I turned into a
latte.  Not alltogether unhappy with it, but it's clear that I'm still
producing some nasty shots.  (Better than some of the crap I've gotten
locally - that's why I'm not completely unhappy.)
1)  I've noticed some very, very fine and sparse grounds.  Is that
normal?  If not, what is the likely culprit?  My good tamper is in
transit, so at the moment I'm using the worthless plastic one and am
not at all satisfied with it.  I've not yet pulled out (and cleaned)
the bathroom scale to make sure I have the tamping right.
2)  The shots seem to progress too rapidly.  I turned it off at 25
seconds because the volume would have been too great otherwise.  I am
getting some crema, but not tons.  I am using a can of pre-ground
illy, so I'm working with the presumption that the grind isn't the
problem here or on the first question.  I've already admitted that I
haven't tested how many pounds I'm tamping, but I'm definitely not
being wimpy on it.
Thanks in advance for all constructive responses and advice!

2) From: Barry Luterman
If its running through too fast it's one or more of three things if it's not 
grind. 1 Not enough coffee 2.Improper tamping not enough pressure 3 Improper 
First make sure coffee is level. Level with your finger Then put tamper in 
PF and lightly twist in a circular manner. Then tamp in 8 directions. 12 
o'clock to 6, 9-3 2 -8, 10 -4.

3) From: Brett Mason
if you grind too coarse, it will go thin early... Finer should be a bit bet=
Another trick is to let the first 1-2 seconds of espresso go to waste,
then catch the rest - stop at 25 secs though - less bitter as well...
Hope it helps some...
On 7/21/05, Larry Dorman  wrote:
ribes) go tohttp://sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html#personalsettings<Snip>
Brett Mason
   _(( )_  Please don't spill the coffee!

4) From: Les
First off Larry, don't expect a lot of crema from the Illy. Fresh ground 
gives you the best crema. Second are you leveling your grounds in the PF? I=
over fill my basket and then use my finger is a sweeping motion to evenly=
distribute the grounds leveling them with the top of the PF. Most newbies=
over fill their PF baskets. Tamp your coffee (sorry the tamper did arrive=
today it should be there Monday.) Lift the PF and slightly tap the PF on th=
counter to settle things better and re-tamp Polish your tamp by leveling th=
tamper on top of the grounds and giving it a 560 to 760 degree turn to 
polish the tamp. You should have a gap of 3-4mm from the top of the PF to=
the Puck. Load and Lock and pull the shot!
 On 7/21/05, Larry Dorman  wrote: 

5) From: Bob Holland
Hey Larry,
I'll tag on something to Dr. Crema's remarks. I don't know what machine
you are using, but some get pretty hot after a bit (like the Dr.'s and
my Expobar). If you try pulling shots with the machine too hot, you get
a boiling shot that is way fast and way nasty! Until you get your
grinder/homeroasting down, you might try buying some local roasted
product from a good coffee shop. Tell them you have an espresso machine
and are trying to make their good stuff at home. They should be helpful
and sell you small amounts (1/4lb)in several different grind settings.
I know its frustrating now, but it only gets better!! Rock on...
Dexter, Oregon

6) From: Tara Kollas
Hi, Larry - I have a Gaggia Espresso and if I let it sit too long it
does get really hot - I usually run a blank shot through the machine
just before I grind, so the water isn't too warm when it hits the
On 7/22/05, Bob Holland  wrote:
ribes) go tohttp://sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html#personalsettings<Snip>

7) From: Larry Dorman
Thanks everyone for your responses!  I'm rapidly getting better...  I
pulled my best shot yet (5th one) this morning and was quite happy
with it.  Nice crema and flow.  I also watched some videos that came
with the maker that demonstrated over, under, and perfect extraction
and flow.  I had expected the flow to be slower than it is, so I
really wasn't as far off as I believed when my original message was
I still don't have a scale to measure my tamp pressure (my bathroom
scale is electronic and not suitable for this purpose).  However,
playing with the tamping on each shot I believe I've found the
threshold pressure at which I begin to choke the machine... with this
I backed off just a little this morning and got the nice (IMHaIO)
I'm definitely enjoying the learning process and the product of it. 
Les has indicated I"ll get my new tamper early next week and that will
undoubtedly be a vast improvement.  I'll be able to throw away the POC
(piece of crap) that came with the machine.  It doesn't fit right and
is not flat nor smooth.  Go figure, great machine overcome by cheap
I'm seriously considering bringing my machine to work and selling
lattes for a little bit to finance a good grinder. :)  Tonight I'm
going to try grinding for espresso for the first time...  wish me

8) From: Larry Dorman
I was kind of wondering about that...  it did seem to get extremely
hot.  This will be easier when I get the replacement water tank...
right now it holds just enough water to brew, steam, and clean for one
On 7/22/05, Tara Kollas  wrote:

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