HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Need a Tune up on my Espresso! (21 msgs / 866 lines)
1) From: Mejia, Carlos
!!LONG MESSAGE WARNING!!
Ok, I'm getting some GREAT beans (SM) and some pretty good roasts (iR2),
now it's time to get some good espresso!  Problem is, my grinder and
espresso machine are not the best. At the moment, I can't afford what I
REALLY want (ie a Rocky and Gaggia Classic), but in the meantime hoping
I can make some improvements.. maybe give my system a Tune Up!  Looking
to this community for some help/suggestions:
Grinder:  I have an old Braun Burr grinder that's been used almost daily
for the last 10 yrs. I think I paid about $30 for it and it's lasted
this long so I guess I can give it a plus for that.  However, it's loud,
messy (lotsa static!) and difficult to clean.  I've never tried to take
it apart to look at the condition of the burrs or clean them. I read
somewhere that you can run uncooked rice through a burr grinder to clean
it out! Is this recommened? Can/should I try to replace the burrs? 
If I really should just chuck it, is there a recommended machine in the
$50-75 range that will hold me over for a year or so, until I can
upgrade to a Rocky or something more 'professional'?
Espresso Machine: I have a Barista that I bought from *$ 10 years ago
and it's just not pulling good tasting shots. (could be the grind!?)  It
has one of those 'pressurized portafilters' which is supposed to be
'foolproof' but my shots pull in about 10-15 sec with lots of foam and
don't taste great...no foolin'!  It works like this; I twist the PPF to
the right all the way to lock it, press the brew button, wait about 10
sec for the machine go to a quiet hum, flip the PPF to the left to open
the valve and pull the shot.  I've completely dismantled and cleaned the
PPF but it didn't seem to help. I've tried varying the time before
'opening' the PPF and that doesn't seem to make much difference either.
Through experimentation, sometimes when the filter basket is VERY full
and tamped quite hard it has slowed the extraction to the preferred
20-30 sec.  The shot had a distinctly layered crema and tasted great!
But it's hard to duplicate and sometimes when I've tried, the full,
tight puck doesn't allow extraction through at all... drip, drip, drip
for about a minute to get 2 oz...ugh!  
Does anyone know if I can get a standard PF for this machine?  Convert
the PPF to a PF?  If so, do you think it will make a difference?  Maybe
the 15 sec shots will taste OK if I just get a new grinder? 
Sorry for the long message.  I'm just frustrated and want my espresso to
taste better!

2) From: Les
Grinder - Buy a Zass or Trosser off of Ebay.  I have both and they are good
grinders.  You can't go wrong having a good hand grinder as a backup or for
travel.   Second give your espresso machine a very very good cleaning.  You
might be amazed at how much better it will work.  Third, save your money for
a good $1,000-$1,300 machine.  You won't have upgrade fever in a couple of
years.
Les
On 3/7/07, Mejia, Carlos  wrote:
<Snip>

3) From: Barry Luterman
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Roasting a brewing coffee is relatively cheap. However, when you get =
into espresso the old adage "For money you get honey" applies. Take =
Les's advice maximize your existing equipment and save for the best.

4) From: Rich M
Carlos-
Don't know anything about your grinder, but the rice thing does work-- 
use minute rice, not regular. Try to get as many old grounds out of  
it with help of a shop vac or some similar tool which allows you to  
get into as many crevices as possible. Good luck.
For what it's worth, I too have sweet maria beans and an IR2. In  
addition, about a month ago I got a Rocky grinder and an Anita with  
an HX--pretty nice equipment. I'm still struggling with the final  
product. A couple of good shots here and there, but no consistency.
Rich M
On Mar 7, 2007, at 1:23 PM, Mejia, Carlos wrote:
<Snip>

5) From: Cameron Forde
I'll add to the chorus suggesting the grinder upgrade as your next
step to improving your espresso.  I would imagine that you can get
good espresso from your current machine, but it'll take some
experimenting.  One of the key factors is making sure that you allow
the machine to warm up long enough.  Then run some blank shots to
stabilize the temperature (you'll need to determine how many and how
long to wait before you pull a shot).  Once you've got those factors
established you can work on the distribution and tamping.  I don't
know of any reason to lock the PF at the start of a shot.  If your
shots are blonding too quickly grind finer (and vice versa).
Good luck!
Cameron
On 3/7/07, Rich M  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
ceforde

6) From: Mejia, Carlos
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Les,
 
Can these grinders work for espresso and if so does it take a long time
to grind enough for a few shots?  There were some listed on eBay but I
wouldn't know which of the many models would be best.  For instance, I
saw two that looked almost identical but one was list "Buy Now" for $39
and the other for $76. (models 165 and 190 respectively).   checked the
Zassenhaus websitehttp://www.zassenhaus.com/and saw a very nice modern
design that I would be very interested in, but the description is all in
German.   I actually might be going to Germany this Summer, so perhaps
I'll hold off and look over there.
 
I can't imagine spending a grand for my next espresso machine. Just
couldn't justify it in my mind.  From my research on SM website, the
Rancilio Miss Silvia would probably be the highest end that I might
spring for.  Just out of curiousity, what would you recommend in the
1-1.3k range?
 
~carlos
From: homeroast-admin
[mailto:homeroast-admin] On Behalf Of Les
Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2007 1:03 PM
To: homeroast
Subject: Re: +Need a Tune up on my Espresso!
 
Grinder - Buy a Zass or Trosser off of Ebay.  I have both and they are
good grinders.  You can't go wrong having a good hand grinder as a
backup or for travel.   Second give your espresso machine a very very
good cleaning.  You might be amazed at how much better it will work.
Third, save your money for a good $1,000-$1,300 machine.  You won't have
upgrade fever in a couple of years. 
 
Les
 

7) From: Leo Zick
You can take apart your PF to convert it to a 'regular' one. I think I saw a
post on coffeegeek about it.
As far as the machine, wait until you have money, and invest as much as you
can toward a new grinder.  Your barista will seem like a new one just from
that alone!  If you cant afford the price of a grinder, look into hand ones.
They will at least achieve the grind.
Sorry if this was answered 100 times already :p

8) From: Brandon Kolbe
Hi Carlos,
     I have a Zass grinder which I really enjoy.  Unfortunately, like you, I
have a pressurized portafilter for my Saeco Classico espresso machine.  I am
borrowing a naked non-pressurized portafilter from a friend of mine and am
really enjoying it.  I wish I had an answer for you about getting a
non-pressurized portafilter for your espresso machine.  I could have sworn I
have heard about some *$ machines being similar to the Saeco machines but I
could be mistaken.  Hopefully you are able to find one.
Happy roasting,
Brandon
On 3/7/07, Mejia, Carlos  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
"We are what we think.
All that we are arises
With our thoughts.
With our thoughts,
We make our world."
       -- Buddha

9) From: Brett Mason
On my first espresso machine I had the same portafilter.  I use a
large screwdriver to pry the plastic junk out.  Then I used a hole saw
/ drill to make the PF bottomless.  (Look honey, no crotch!)  Then I
placed the grinds basket in, and Voila!
Worked for me...  cost me nothing but fear.
Brett
  RWA
On 3/7/07, Brandon Kolbe  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Cheers,
Bretthttp://homeroast.freeservers.com

10) From: Les
Carlos,
To answer your question, a Zass or Trosser works great for espresso.  It
doesn't take that long to grind.  Pulling shots and enjoying espresso isn't
something that is done in a rush anyway.  I have used a number of Zass
grinders and have found they all work well.  The Turkish grinder is very
slow however.  The others all seem to have the same basic grind speed, some
have bigger hoppers than others.  If one really goes on the quest for
getting good equipment at a reasonable price, you can get some really good
used equipment.  The retail cost of my current espresso equipment if I went
out and bought it brand new would be about $5,500.00.  I have all used
equipment.  I have about $900.00 invested.  I have an Expobar Office
Control, a Olympia Cremina, and a SAMA Lever for espresso machines.  I have
a Mazzer Major, a Zass grinder, and a Trosser grinder.  I think those on
limited budgets like myself, can score some really nice equipment with a
little patience.  So to sum it all up, I have 3 great espresso machines and
3 great grinders for less that a thousand bucks.
Les
On 3/7/07, Mejia, Carlos  wrote:
<Snip>

11) From: miKe mcKoffee
Absolutely agree good deals can be found with "a little" patience. However,
fantastic ridiculous scandalous you're really almost stealing da stuff deals
like you got on about all your gear more like "a lot" of patience! I mean,
it's not very often a Mazzer Major can be found for well under $100;-)
Kona Kurmudgeon miKe mcKoffee
URL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://mdmint.home.comcast.net/coffee/Rosto_mod.htmUltimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must
first not know. And in knowing know I know not. Each Personal enlightenment
found exploring the many divergent foot steps of Those who have gone before.
Sweet Maria's List - Searchable Archiveshttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/	From: homeroast-admin
[mailto:homeroast-admin] On Behalf Of Les
	Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2007 11:00 AM
	
	Carlos, 
	To answer your question, a Zass or Trosser works great for espresso.
It doesn't take that long to grind.  Pulling shots and enjoying espresso
isn't something that is done in a rush anyway.  I have used a number of Zass
grinders and have found they all work well.  The Turkish grinder is very
slow however.  The others all seem to have the same basic grind speed, some
have bigger hoppers than others.  If one really goes on the quest for
getting good equipment at a reasonable price, you can get some really good
used equipment.  The retail cost of my current espresso equipment if I went
out and bought it brand new would be about $5, 500.00.  I have all used
equipment.  I have about $900.00 invested.  I have an Expobar Office
Control, a Olympia Cremina, and a SAMA Lever for espresso machines.  I have
a Mazzer Major, a Zass grinder, and a Trosser grinder.  I think those on
limited budgets like myself, can score some really nice equipment with a
little patience.  So to sum it all up, I have 3 great espresso machines and
3 great grinders for less that a thousand bucks. 
	 
	Les

12) From: Mejia, Carlos
Bret,
Thanks. I've had my PPF apart and kinda know how it's put together.  I
can understand getting rid of the plastic cube and the needle
thingamajig, but I don't understand what you mean about using a hole saw
and making the PF bottomless?  Do you have any pics or can you explain
what this means?
~carlos

13) From: Eddie Dove
Carlos,
Check out this thread ... you'll get the idea:http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/general/273508#273508Eddie
-- 
Docendo Discimus
My Home Coffee Roasting Blog and Profiles for the Gene Cafehttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/On 3/8/07, Mejia, Carlos  wrote:">http://southcoastcoffeeroaster.blogspot.com/Sweet Maria's List - Searchable Archiveshttp://themeyers.org/HomeRoast/On 3/8/07, Mejia, Carlos  wrote:
<Snip>

14) From: Brett Mason
See Eddie's reply - that's exactly what  did to mine.  Brass is very
soft, and so I did the job slowly, carefully in a vice...  Use a round
file or Dremel to clean up the edges....
next, and I adjour you to follow through - read up on using naked
portafilters to refine your technique....  Expect to make a mess a few
times as you learn to tamp - soon you'll be expert....
then, and I also advise this, read up on temperature surfing.  You
will improve your espresso proportional to the time you spend getting
the temperature just right (following tamp above)
Enjoy,
Surf's Up!
Brett
  RWA
On 3/8/07, Mejia, Carlos  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Cheers,
Bretthttp://homeroast.freeservers.com

15) From: Les
Mike,
I have been very fortunate!
On 3/8/07, miKe mcKoffee  wrote:
<Snip>

16) From: Mejia, Carlos
Hey thanks guys. The pictorial link sent was great. Now I've got a good
reason to clean out my garage so I can get to my drill press!  But first
I need read up on these 'naked portafilters'.  Are they hard to work
with? What's the advantage over a standard portafilter?  ~carlos

17) From: Les
Carlos,
Here is the advantage: www.thortamper.com/liquidsilk.html  You can tell if
your technique is right cause if it channels you will get sprayed.  Besides
it is way cool to watch and keeping things clean is a breeze.
Les
On 3/8/07, Mejia, Carlos  wrote:
<Snip>

18) From: Mejia, Carlos
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
OK... I'm naked!   Yesterday I stripped mine old PF!  I cut the bottom
off, filed/sanded the rough edges and epoxied the metal to the plastic
handle. Now i'm experimenting with the shots.  I've pulled 4 doubles
(2oz) since modifying it.  Results have ranged from ok to terrible.
You're right, observing the extraction is really fun.  A couple of
times, the coffee was 'spraying' out in many directions, making quite a
mess!  Two times a nice 'thick syrupy' flow from the center formed, once
was about 18 sec from start to 2oz and the other time it was faster and
filled 2oz in about 12 sec.  
 
Now I'm wondering if the varied results were all due to tamper and tamp
pressure?  I'm also experimenting with different dwell times of the
steamer switch on/off to get a nice hot extraction (temp surfing) and
wondering if this has an impact on the extraction.  I've got a tamper
that i bought yrs ago at *$ but it's a couple of mm smaller than the
inside of the filter basket so the perimeter doesn't get included in the
tamp. This tamper also has a convex shape to it, leaving a small 'well'
in the center of the puck....shouldn't it be flat bottomed?
 
I've also actually used my shot glass as a tamper since it's the perfect
size (slightly larger) and flat bottomed.  
 
Could the spraying and fast extraction be largely due to my tamping
technique?   Can the grind quality cause this?
 
I'm searching for the perfect 25 second slow pull...any help
appreciated!
 
 
thanks.... ~carlos
From: homeroast-admin
[mailto:homeroast-admin] On Behalf Of Les
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2007 2:42 PM
To: homeroast
Subject: Re: +Need a Tune up on my Espresso!
 
Carlos,
Here is the advantage: www.thortamper.com/liquidsilk.html  You can tell
if your technique is right cause if it channels you will get sprayed.
Besides it is way cool to watch and keeping things clean is a breeze. 
 
Les
 
On 3/8/07, Mejia, Carlos  wrote: 
Hey thanks guys. The pictorial link sent was great. Now I've got a good
reason to clean out my garage so I can get to my drill press!  But first
I need read up on these 'naked portafilters'.  Are they hard to work
with? What's the advantage over a standard portafilter?  ~carlos

19) From: Floyd Lozano
yes, it's a combination of the 2 things, tamping and grinding.  non-uniform
size particles in the basket can cause 'channeling' of the water during
extraction.  Think of it like people leaving a ball park.  there's 30,000
people trying to get out, all different sizes.  they will take the path of
least resistance in most cases, cause all they want to do it get home where
the beer is cheaper.  Water is being forced through the grounds and will do
everything it can to get to the other side, and the path of least resistanc=
e
will be followed.  The goal then i to make EVERY path the same!  That mean
you want your grind to be as even and uniform as possible first off.  If
that was the only variable, then you could assume that if the shot was goin=
g
too fast, you grind finer to slow things down (think of the difference
between a box full of marbles and a box full of sand - which is easier for
air to get through?).  So if you assume the grinder is great and you get
those uniform particles, the idea now is to get them all packed in as nicel=
y
as possible (think now of levelling out that box of sand).  With finely
ground particles a lot of stuff can happen - you get clumps of stuff, you
can get layering where some particles will pack together better than others=
,
etc.  So you start to hear about all of these techniques and maneuvers that
make tamping your grounds sound like a military maneuver.  So you want to
prevent those clumps and layering and stuff all the ground together, level
and packed in as nicely as possible (think of layering a box bottom with
golf balls, then putting in another layer with the upper golf balls resting
in the valleys formed by the golf balls below, and then another layer,
etc).  It won't be too long before someone with enough money figures out ho=
w
to grind coffee beans very finely and uniformly, use electricity to fire th=
e
ground particles in a straight beam, kick out the grinds that are wrong
sized and keep the ones within a respectable tolerance, and then paint them
in the bottom of a portafilter a layer at a time, golf ball in a box style,
to achieve perfect layering and packing, and then force a uniform high
pressure mist of water at the perfect temperature through this bed of
grounds to achieve uniform extraction perfection.  It will cost about the
same as a helicoptor but the coffee will rock.
-F
On 3/11/07, Mejia, Carlos  wrote:
<Snip>
ff,
<Snip>
s
<Snip>
art
<Snip>
er
<Snip>
f
<Snip>
s
<Snip>
o
<Snip>
f
<Snip>
es
<Snip>

20) From: Barry Luterman
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Both grind and tamp will affect speed. You will never get a good shot =
without a proper tamper. that is, one that fits. Get one first then mess =
with the grind consistency. Do not try to manipulate the two variables =
at the same time. The interactions will completely confound your =
results.

21) From: Floyd Lozano
And the only real way to do *that* is to get a bunch of consistently ground
coffee to start (like preground Illy's or something) and get your tamping
down.  Or a damn good grinder and a lot of the same bean ;)
-F
On 3/11/07, Barry Luterman  wrote:
<Snip>


HomeRoast Digest