HomeRoast Digest


Topic: why bitter crema? (10 msgs / 460 lines)
1) From: Barry Dryden
Happy Holidays to all!
A couple questions please.  Although my roasts are coming out quite
nicely despite the fact that I can't hear any cracks in my i-roar2
(combination of bad hearing and noisy machine, I tried my Bose
headphones, no luck), why do I often get quite bitter crema yet
delicious espresso?  I have some french roast Liquid Amber that shows
this especially (very darkly roasted, actually past where I wanted to
stop).  But I've seen this some with Yemen or Yirgacheffe SOs too,
which were only FC, FC+    I'm going to get the digital
thermometer/thermocouple from SM installed in my ir2 today-tomorrow to
be able to get bean mass temperature more accurately.  My ir2 has been
quite good with no mods unlike others results.  Ambient temperature is
a big factor on roast time, I roast indoors when it's pretty cool
outdoors.
I'm using a Saeco Classico, Mazzer Super Jolly, tamping 30-40 lbs.
Timing for a double is pretty close ~18-23 secs.  Is there any way to
backflush this espresso machine?  No three-way valve, so I'm supposing
not.  I'm flushing with a 2-5 oz of hot water, pre and post-shot.
Keeping the portafilter nice and clean.  Water here is super-hard (17
grains!) but tastes great, I use the well-water through the filter on
my refrigerator in the machine and flush with Citric Acid monthly.
Sometimes I'm using 17-20g of coffee rather than 13-14g, would that
have an effect on the crema?
Thanks for any advice offered!
BarryD

2) From: Tom Ulmer
Espresso aficionados around the list will probably cringe and disagree, but
in my opinion the formation and taste of crema (on its own) is vastly
overstated/overrated and should be considered dregs of the pull. The only
thing it really contributes to is the body of the cup.

3) From: Bryan Wray
I disagree, but I'll leave it at that :0)
-Bry
Hate to site other sites but...http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/articles/columns/260475Long, but interesting reads.">http://www.coffeegeek.com/opinions/barista/10-14-2006and the interesting follow up comments/questions:http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/articles/columns/260475Long, but interesting reads.
-Bry (the end for real this time)
 
Bryan Wray
NaDean's Coffee Place/
Dino's Coffee Lounge
Kalamazoo, MI
"It is my hope that people realize that coffee is more than just a caffeine delivery service, it can be a culinary art"- Chris Owens.
       
---------------------------------
Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile.  Try it now.

4) From: Tim Harvey
I'm a big believer on using the right formulas for any coffee, so I'd start w using 7g/shot (assuming you're doing a double, so 14). I've never been a big fan of straight espresso either, but if I make an americano and it still tastes bitter, I know something's wrong. If it tastes good,  maybe you just don't like espresso. Are you soaking your portafilter and basket when you clean too? I notice nasty after a week's worth of shots.
 FWIW,
Tim
---- Barry Dryden  wrote: 
=============
Happy Holidays to all!
A couple questions please.  Although my roasts are coming out quite
nicely despite the fact that I can't hear any cracks in my i-roar2
(combination of bad hearing and noisy machine, I tried my Bose
headphones, no luck), why do I often get quite bitter crema yet
delicious espresso?  I have some french roast Liquid Amber that shows
this especially (very darkly roasted, actually past where I wanted to
stop).  But I've seen this some with Yemen or Yirgacheffe SOs too,
which were only FC, FC+    I'm going to get the digital
thermometer/thermocouple from SM installed in my ir2 today-tomorrow to
be able to get bean mass temperature more accurately.  My ir2 has been
quite good with no mods unlike others results.  Ambient temperature is
a big factor on roast time, I roast indoors when it's pretty cool
outdoors.
I'm using a Saeco Classico, Mazzer Super Jolly, tamping 30-40 lbs.
Timing for a double is pretty close ~18-23 secs.  Is there any way to
backflush this espresso machine?  No three-way valve, so I'm supposing
not.  I'm flushing with a 2-5 oz of hot water, pre and post-shot.
Keeping the portafilter nice and clean.  Water here is super-hard (17
grains!) but tastes great, I use the well-water through the filter on
my refrigerator in the machine and flush with Citric Acid monthly.
Sometimes I'm using 17-20g of coffee rather than 13-14g, would that
have an effect on the crema?
Thanks for any advice offered!
BarryD

5) From: MichaelB
(1) It's hard to believe that your crema is bitter and your shot is sweet.
Perhaps your first sip is bitter and then the rest of the shot doesn't taste
as bitter as the first sip.
(2) Your espresso machine may have a portafilter with an attachment that
produces fake crema. You can google for ways to remove this "feature" and
improve your shots.
(3) A typical way of tasting espresso to improve your technique is to divide
the shot into thirds and taste separately. But not by top, middle, bottom;
rather by sequential capturing parts of the pour in successive cups or shot
glasses. LIne up a few glasses and switch every 8-10 secs to capture the
parts and taste separately. (I have a lever machine so have to grow a third
hand to do this successfully :-)
(4) You should try to increase shot time; you are on the low end of the
golden rule. Don't try to do it by tamping harder - grind finer with same
tamp as usual.
(5) The higher your coffee dose the less you will extract from your shot!
Sounds paradoxical but if you get two oz espresso from 17 grams of coffee
versus two oz espresso from 14 grams of coffee, the 17 gram shot will have
extracted LESS of the good stuff from the coffee. Consider altering your
dose to see how it affects shot flavor.
On Dec 20, 2007 3:32 PM, Barry Dryden  wrote:
<Snip>
--
MichaelB

6) From: Brandon Kolbe
Hi Barry,
     I have a Saeco Classico and I don't know of a way to backflush it.  By
default it comes with a pressurized portafilter.  This produces what others
have called "fake crema".  You can remove the bladder that creates the back
pressure or you can purchase a non-pressurized portafilter from Saeco.  As
far as getting a bitter crema... I am unsure of the answer as I am not an
espresso expert.  There are others on this list that have much more
experience than me.
Happy Roasting,
Brandon
On Dec 20, 2007 2:32 PM, Barry Dryden  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
"We are what we think.
All that we are arises
With our thoughts.
With our thoughts,
We make our world."
      -- Buddha

7) From: Sandra Andina
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Do not try to backflush a machine without a 3-way solenoid valve. Best  
you can do is always knock out the puck, rinse out the portafilter  
loosely set but not locked (the "wiggle") and wipe the PF and shower  
screen dry after each shot; soak the PF in Cafiza overnight or at  
least an hour when it starts to look grungy (don't let Cafiza anywhere  
else near your machine) and then clean it with a "Scrubby" (green  
Scotch-Brite pad) and rinse; and once every couple of months do a  
citric acid (Cleancaf, sour salt, or diluted filtered lemon juice)  
descale per the owner's manual.
The key to combating bitterness is a clean machine.
On Dec 21, 2007, at 12:39 AM, Brandon Kolbe wrote:
<Snip>
Sandy Andina
www.myspace.com/sandyandina
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Do not try to backflush a =
machine without a 3-way solenoid valve. Best you can do is always knock =
out the puck, rinse out the portafilter loosely set but not locked (the =
"wiggle") and wipe the PF and shower screen dry after each shot; soak =
the PF in Cafiza overnight or at least an hour when it starts to look =
grungy (don't let Cafiza anywhere else near your machine) and then clean =
it with a "Scrubby" (green Scotch-Brite pad) and rinse; and once every =
couple of months do a citric acid (Cleancaf, sour salt, or diluted =
filtered lemon juice) descale per the owner's manual.The key to =
combating bitterness is a clean machine.On Dec 21, =
2007, at 12:39 AM, Brandon Kolbe wrote:
Hi = Barry,      I have a Saeco Classico and I don't = know of a way to backflush it.  By default it comes with a = pressurized portafilter.  This produces what others have called = "fake crema".  You can remove the bladder that creates the back = pressure or you can purchase a non-pressurized portafilter from = Saeco.  As far as getting a bitter crema... I am unsure of the = answer as I am not an espresso expert.  There are others on this = list that have much more experience than me. Happy = Roasting, Brandon On Dec 20, 2007 = 2:32 PM, Barry Dryden <brdmann> = wrote: Happy Holidays to all! A couple questions please. =  Although my roasts are coming out quite nicely despite the fact = that I can't hear any cracks in my i-roar2 (combination of bad = hearing and noisy machine, I tried my Bose headphones, no luck), why = do I often get quite bitter crema yet delicious espresso?  I = have some french roast Liquid Amber that shows this especially (very = darkly roasted, actually past where I wanted to stop).  But I've = seen this some with Yemen or Yirgacheffe SOs too, which were only = FC, FC+    I'm going to get the = digital thermometer/thermocouple from SM installed in my ir2 = today-tomorrow to be able to get bean mass temperature more = accurately.  My ir2 has been quite good with no mods unlike = others results.  Ambient temperature is a big factor on roast = time, I roast indoors when it's pretty cool outdoors. I'm = using a Saeco Classico, Mazzer Super Jolly, tamping 30-40 lbs. Timing = for a double is pretty close ~18-23 secs.  Is there any way to = backflush this espresso machine?  No three-way valve, so I'm = supposing not.  I'm flushing with a 2-5 oz of hot water, pre and = post-shot. Keeping the portafilter nice and clean.  Water here = is super-hard (17 grains!) but tastes great, I use the well-water = through the filter on my refrigerator in the machine and flush with = Citric Acid monthly. Sometimes I'm using 17-20g of coffee rather than = 13-14g, would that have an effect on the crema? Thanks for = any advice = offered! BarryD<= br>homeroast mailing list =http://lists.sweetmarias.com/mailman/listinfo/homeroastTo change = your personal list settings (digest options, vacations, unsvbscribes) go = to =">http://sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html#personalsettings
-- "We are what we think. All = that we are arises With our thoughts. With our thoughts, We = make our world."       -- = Buddha Sandy Andinawww.myspace.com/sandyandina = --Apple-Mail-10-873166036--

8) From: Alchemist John
dregs??? :O  Man, I don't know what you are drinking if you consider 
crema the dregs.  Certainly NOT what I am drinking.
And whereas I won't get into that argument it does lead me to 
consider something.  Barry, please describe your crema.  Volume, 
color, easy or long to disappear, etc.  Whereas in many ways crema in 
of itself will not make a good pull, I have never had a great shot 
with lousy crema - it's an indicator.
Overall, bitter makes me think you are flash burning part of the shot.
At 12:47 12/20/2007, you wrote:
<Snip>
John Nanci
AlChemist at large
Zen Roasting , Blending & Espresso pulling by Gestalthttp://www.chocolatealchemy.com/

9) From: Jon Rosen
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Brandon,
I have a Saeco Aroma (very similar machine), which also comes with a  
pressurized portafilter. I ordered a standard, non-pressurized  
portafilter from Saeco's Website and am glad I did. I could never get  
25 second shots with the pressurized portafilter, but that's no  
problem anymore.
Regards,
Jon
On Dec 21, 2007, at 1:39 AM, Brandon Kolbe wrote:
<Snip>
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Brandon,
I have a Saeco Aroma (very = similar machine), which also comes with a pressurized portafilter. I = ordered a standard, non-pressurized portafilter from Saeco's Website and = am glad I did. I could never get 25 second shots with the pressurized = portafilter, but that's no problem anymore.
Regards,
Jon = On Dec 21, 2007, at 1:39 AM, Brandon Kolbe wrote:
Hi = Barry,      I have a Saeco Classico and I don't = know of a way to backflush it.  By default it comes with a = pressurized portafilter.  This produces what others have called = "fake crema".  You can remove the bladder that creates the back = pressure or you can purchase a non-pressurized portafilter from = Saeco.  As far as getting a bitter crema... I am unsure of the = answer as I am not an espresso expert.  There are others on this = list that have much more experience than me. Happy = Roasting, Brandon On Dec 20, 2007 = 2:32 PM, Barry Dryden <brdmann> = wrote: Happy Holidays to all! A couple questions please. =  Although my roasts are coming out quite nicely despite the fact = that I can't hear any cracks in my i-roar2 (combination of bad = hearing and noisy machine, I tried my Bose headphones, no luck), why = do I often get quite bitter crema yet delicious espresso?  I = have some french roast Liquid Amber that shows this especially (very = darkly roasted, actually past where I wanted to stop).  But I've = seen this some with Yemen or Yirgacheffe SOs too, which were only = FC, FC+    I'm going to get the = digital thermometer/thermocouple from SM installed in my ir2 = today-tomorrow to be able to get bean mass temperature more = accurately.  My ir2 has been quite good with no mods unlike = others results.  Ambient temperature is a big factor on roast = time, I roast indoors when it's pretty cool outdoors. I'm = using a Saeco Classico, Mazzer Super Jolly, tamping 30-40 lbs. Timing = for a double is pretty close ~18-23 secs.  Is there any way to = backflush this espresso machine?  No three-way valve, so I'm = supposing not.  I'm flushing with a 2-5 oz of hot water, pre and = post-shot. Keeping the portafilter nice and clean.  Water here = is super-hard (17 grains!) but tastes great, I use the well-water = through the filter on my refrigerator in the machine and flush with = Citric Acid monthly. Sometimes I'm using 17-20g of coffee rather than = 13-14g, would that have an effect on the crema? Thanks for = any advice = offered! BarryD<= br>homeroast mailing list =http://lists.sweetmarias.com/mailman/listinfo/homeroastTo change = your personal list settings (digest options, vacations, unsvbscribes) go = to =">http://sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html#personalsettings
-- "We are what we think. All = that we are arises With our thoughts. With our thoughts, We = make our world."       -- = Buddha = --Apple-Mail-24-910602922--

10) From: Barry Dryden
Thanks folks for all the great tips & suggestions.  I'm going to try
several of them. Mainly better soaking & cleaning of my portafilter &
machine, smaller shots (14g) with more extraction, not tamping so
hard,  and grinding the beans a bit finer.
I've been struggling  along with a 48mm tamper and will get one of
Les' fine Ridgeline tampers in redwood soon to fit my 53mm
portafilter.  I've been halting my shots sometimes to reheat the
machine, possibly burning the shot as Alchemist suggested.  I bought
some Barefoot Coffee Roasters (local to me) Bigfoot Espresso (Probat
L12 roasted with a 3 day rest) to compare and I am sure my homeroasted
SM Liquid Amber is at least as good, probably better.
Many thanks,
BarryD


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