On Jan 9, 2010, at 9:37 PM, peterz wrote:
Well, I'd say potential for big improvement.
The pressurized portafilter provides a restricted outflow from the puck, giving a guaranteed minimum backpressure. This allows the machine to be extremely forgiving of a lousy grind, but still give what passes for espresso. It won't necessarily be great espresso, but it will be recognizable. Once you remove the backpressure device, the grind and tamp are responsible for the backpressure. In this way, the machine becomes much less forgiving. On the other hand, you will learn, and you will reap the rewards. Don't be discouraged when you pull a shot in 10 seconds. Dump it, adjust for a finer grind, and try again. You will likely burn through some espresso until you get it figured out. You will also learn how to predict and compensate for variables, such as darkness of roast (a light roast will require a finer grind than a dark roast). Don't give up. Adjust the variables until you have yourself a fine shot.
Another thing is, while you are learning, you will likely pull some real stinkers. Like the ten second pull, or the stall, which resolves into drip drip drip, which might eventually get you 1/2 oz over 1.5 minutes. Taste them. Learn how the oily overextracted shot tastes. Or how sour the underextracted one is. You will expand your knowledge and improve your technique and ultimately your espresso.
And above all, have fun :)
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