OK I have been having fun with my christmas gifts. I got a Hamilton Beach
Espresso maker for one of my gifts and a nice Bodum 8 tasse French Press for
the other. I wanted to get the HB because it was inexpensive and I was not
sure if the dark side was for me. It has a 58mm portafilter and no crema
enhancing device in it. It is a pump machine. I have this paired with a SMP
that I also received. Guess the wife thought I was good this past year.
I did a lot of reading before I tried my first shot(not enough reading
though). It only comes with 1 filter basket in which it has a mark for 1 and
2 shots. I was actually amazed at the amount of crema I could get from this
machine right away. I had read mixed reviews but I am definately not having
a problem with the crema. I had been using 14-15g for a double and was
getting soupy pucks, only tried a single once I think. Since I was getting
crema and some nice guiness effect most of the time I was trying to adjust
the grind to get a more solid dry puck that would come out in one piece.
Well the other day I did some more reading on the coffee/espresso boards and
found what my problem might be. 14-15g just was not filling the filter
basket enough, also the grind may have been too fine. So yesterday I
overfilled the basket and leveled with my finger prior to tamping. I had
loaded 18-19g of beans into the grinder this time. Of course with all the
use the machine has gotten since I received it I snapped the plastic tamper
in 2 pieces last week, but we will save that story for later. Put a good 30
lb tamp on it and tried it out. Just about a perfect 27 sec 2 oz pull. The
puck came out in a solid piece and dry finally. I was also able to reproduce
my results today. Now to tweak a couple more things and check the temp
coming from the group head. I have mainly been making capps with it and am
really enjoying them. The steam wand is a bit short but works better without
the froth enhancer. My wife who is not a coffee drinker is really liking the
naturally sweet capps also. I can see where a Gaggia or Silvia will be in a
future purchase way down the road.
I have mainly been using the HB for capps and americanos. Since I have been
using this and the French Press I have not been using my drip maker except
maybe once in the last couple weeks. The wife asked if she should just put
it away so it isn't taking up counter space. Of course I told her no since I
am sure I will maybe possibly go back to using it. Plus the counter looks
pretty nice with my SMP, Cuisinart drip, HB and French Press all sitting in
Well on to my tamper story. The machine came with a plastic scoop/tamper.
The tamper part does not fit well into the filter since it is too small but
it worked for awhile. I noticed the plastic bending and stress marks on it
after the first week. Then one day SNAP. It broke off right near the bottom
of the tamper. The plastic tamper disc was still ok though so I did a little
frankenstein type surgery to the tamper disc. I went out to the garage and
found a scrap piece of 1x1 and cut it to the length I wanted and then
dremeled out the bottom to receive what used to be the plastic stem that the
scoop was attached to. Used a little two part epoxy once I got the fit right
and created the FrankenTamper. Sanded the top a little for comfort and there
is no way I am going to break it now. The thing looks ugly but will work
till I can get myself a nice tamper in the next week.
Well while I was typing this I just finished off a nice 1/3 Kenya Geth, 2/3
Mexican Oaxaca blend capp and am getting a nice grape type aftertaste.