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Topic: Tweaking the coffeemaster c30a (17 msgs / 391 lines)
1) From: evincill
Well I bought my first coffeemaster C30A this week.  When I made my first pot 
of coffee it was not very good.  It had a 'burnt' coffee flavor and was 
actually weak.
   I then began to tweak it.  Like someone said before on this list, there are 
two screws that are visible when you take the bottom plate off.  Come to find 
out both screws are very important.  One screw (the one that is directly over 
the 'low' switch) controls the high cutoff.  This one is important in cutting 
the high burner off when the water has moved north.  This one is very hard to 
tweak and is very sensitive to any adjustments.  In fact I relegated to the 
fact that I would never get this one 'right.'  So I manually turn it to the 
low position after 15 to 20 seconds of the water moving up north.
     The second switch (the one that is directly over the 'high' switch) 
controls the low temp.  I found that this one is more important than the 
other, because the high cut-off can just simply turned to the low switch when 
you think it has brewed long enough.  But you cannot do that with this one.  
This low switch controls temps from 212 to 160 degrees (I measured it with a 
thermometer).  THAT IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE!  I have actually turned the screw 
counter-clockwise all the way and was able to BOIL WATER ON THE LOW SWITCH.  
Therefore if it is too high, then it will be too hot in the bottom chamber and 
when coffee begins to be pulled down it will begin to boil perfusely (this is 
probably the reason why the coffee can taste 'burnt').  However, if it is too 
low, the pot of coffee may get too cool to fast, but this is usually not a 
problem because the unit has so much carryover heat from the high burner.  I 
have gotten this low switch tweaked to maintain a temp of 180 degrees.
     Now onto the vacuum.  I spent about a day working on this (yes, I have 
too much time on my hands....but that is another story).  What I found out is 
that is important to actually maintain the high switch for at least 15 to 20 
seconds after the water has gone up north.  the reason I found is that the 
longer it 'boils' (this is actually not boiling coffee but it is the only way 
to describe it) the more gas that is released from the bottom chamber, thus 
more of a vacuum that will be produced when the unit is cut down to the 'low' 
switch.  With more vacuum, the faster and quicker the coffee will be pulled 
down to the bottom chamber AND IN ONE FELLOW SWOOSH.  However, if you cut off 
the high switch the second it goes up north; first it will be too weak (in my 
opinion and more of the bitter tastes come out), second there is not a large 
vacuum produced and I have observed that the coffee will tend to 'trickle' 
down, this trickle affect will tend to 'boil' since your burner is 'dry' until 
the coffee comes down south.  But when the coffee comes down in one fellow 
swoosh, then the large volume of coffee at a lower temp will temper the burner 
so that the coffee does not boil when it comes down.  And as we all know 
boiled coffee tastes horrible.
     But there is a fine line in how long to maintain the high temp because 
these coffeemasters are such 'heavy' units that they 'hold' in their heat very 
well and if you hold the high switch for more than 20 seconds, the carryover 
heat will also cause the coffee to 'boil' when it goes down south, because the 
very first drop of coffee being pulled down the spout causes perfuse boiling 
and as we know with boiling causes expansion of the the gases and a loss of 
vacuum, and since you have already turned off the high cut off switch, there 
is not really anyway for the vacuum to be generated as before.  This is a 
never ending cycle that causes drips then boiling, drips then boiling.
     Some people would say that this is excessive....and they are right, but I 
would never have found out how to control the temps.  So the best way to tweak 
these things is to forget about making these things fully automatic, just 
switch the machine to the low switch after 15 to 20 seconds (remember that the 
coffee will still steep for a minute+ up north after switching it to the low 
setting).  Second 'tweak' the screw (actually it is an inversed screw w/ a 
lock-nut attached) that is directly above the high cut-off by screwing 
CLOCKWISE until the nut is near the end of the screw.  You can verify the 
change in temp by measuring it with a thermometer.  I simply cranked it up to 
high switch w/ water in the chamber and when it boiled, I switched it to the 
low position and then stuck the thermometer into the chamber and watched it 
until the temp remained constant.
      I hope this helps some of you guys who have given up on these wonderful 
vacuum coffee makers.
EV
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2) From: jim gundlach
This looks like a piece worthy of archiving.  Thanks for sharing the 
results of all that work.
Maybe I'll look for a c30a.
Jim Gundlach
On Saturday, December 21, 2002, at 06:50 PM, evincill wrote:
<Snip>
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3) From: David Westebbe
<Snip>
Thanks for a great post.  I love my CoffeeMaster.  I use it almost every
day.
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4) From: Les & Becky
EV,
I went through the same process with mine about 2 years ago.  One of mine
works automaticlly and the other I have to manipulate like yours.  However,
one must realize that these machine are older than most of us on the lists.
They now both  make a wonderful brew.  Another lesson I learned is to run a
good coffee cleaner through the pot about once a month.  It is amazing how
much better the coffee tastes with an ultra clean Sunbeam.
Les
I have two Sunbeam vac pots and for fast good coffee, they can't be beat,
however, I still think my Cory makes a slightly better brew.
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5) From: Garrik
From: "evincill" 
-snip coffeemaster findings-
great info- I've heard too many negatives about the sunbeams, but they are
pretty cool looking.  But you've got some excellent info on tweaking.
<Snip>
have
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is
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20
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way
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thus
<Snip>
'low'
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pulled
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off
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my
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large
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until
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burner
<Snip>
I think the physical explanation of this is the air that's in the bottom pot
when you put them together.  The air will expand as it heats, but it's not
much compared to the expansion of the water to steam.  If you have any air
in the bottom pot when the brew is over, it will contract drawing a slight
vacuum, but it's not much.  The real magic happens when there's no air at
all in the bottom pot.  So, you need to "flush out" the air for a while one
the water has finished it's trip.  I have had very similar experiences with
my Cory on the stove.
<Snip>
None of those people read this list.  And they're probably happy with 4
second double espressos at *$.
-Garrik
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6) From: Chris Beck
Yup, I tweaked my C30A to this end long ago.  I don't use it often, but 
once in a while I'll pull it out and brew up a few pots.  Even tweaked, 
I still find the Cona D makes a better cup, but the C30 sure has the 
Cona on speed.
chris
jim gundlach wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Your favorite stores, helpful shopping tools and great gift ideas.
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7) From: David Westebbe
I've got a C20, which I use all the time, and a C30, which I haven't used
yet because I'm missing some pieces to the filter assembly.
When I first started using the C20, I didn't have any filters, so I tried
improvising.  I used several layers of cheesecloth, which seemed to work
great.
Then I bought some round Melitta paper filters, which broke under the stress
of the vacuum.
I got a heavy cloth filter from Sweet Maria's.  Maybe for a Hario?  I
forget, but it was whatever they have in stock.  It seemed too thick and too
tightly woven.  It clogged with fines and stalled.
I got some gen-you-ine ancient CoffeMaster filters from eBay. They were much
thinner cloth than the Hario filters, but still clogged and stalled.
So I'm back to cheesecloth, which seem to work the best of anything.
What do you guys use for your CoffeeMasters?
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8) From: Larry Palletti

9) From: Greg Halbrook
At 07:50 PM 12/21/2002 -0500, you wrote:
<Snip>
      I have a C30A and a C30C and have tweaked them both.  My basic 
technique, if you can call it that, is to totally unplug it after it's been 
"up north" for 15-30 seconds.  My reasoning is that this will help prevent 
the coffee from hitting a hot dry burner on the return trip and 
burning/boiling the first few drops.  I use the original filters that came 
with the C30s and the trip back "south" seems to take longer than what I 
think it should take.  After a minute or so I will wipe the lower unit with 
a wet sponge to help cool it and speed the vacuum process.  I do have a 
Cory rod but have yet to try it. Once the coffee is ready I will either 
plug it back in and switch to the low setting or pour the coffee into a 
thermos.
      I believe that earlier this year, either here or in alt.coffee, 
someone mentioned the idea of drilling a hole at or near the bottom of the 
cone so that a small amount of water will stay in the bottom chamber.  I 
know that my Yama leaves about 1/4 inch of water in the lower chamber 
(which is a good thing since it's made of glass) while the coffeemasters 
are pretty much dry.  The idea made sense to me.  I don't recall reading 
what, if any, the results were.  Has anyone tried it?
--
Greg
Plymouth, Mi.
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10) From: Les & Becky
David,
I use the filters from Tom and Hario.  What kind of Grinder do you have?  I
have a burr grinder, and I set it just below the drip setting.  I have not
had a stall yet.  Great coffee, goes south just fine.
Les
Roasting and turning tampers in S. Oregon

11) From: David Westebbe
<Snip>
Cool. I'll have to give it a try!  eBay, here I come...
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12) From: David Westebbe
<Snip>
I use a Solis Maestro.  It is about 6 months old.  I'm getting increasingly
disappointed with the amount of dust it produces, especially at coarser
settings.
I bought some original CoffeeMaster filters on eBay, thinking that they
would have to be optimum, but they clog too.  I find that with either the
Hario or the Sunbeam filters, if I scrape them during the trip south with
the end of a spoon, the coffee starts going south much more quickly.  this
is what makes me think that they are getting clogged with dust.
The cheesecloth actually works great.  The coffee is strong, but very clear.
The only PITA is that the fines get distributed throughout all the layers of
cloth, making it hard to clean.
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13) From: Les & Becky
David,
I have a Solis Maestro too.  I keep my very clean.  Every week I blow it out
with the air compressor, followed by a good cleaning with pipe cleaners.
However, after a year, mine is dying a slow death too.  Rocky will be a
friend in the future!  How fine are you grinding.  For the Sunbeam, I grind
courser just below (finer) than the drip.
Les

14) From: Mike McGinness
From: "Les & Becky" 
<Snip>
Convoluted and yet I understood it! "Coaser just below (finer) than the
drip".
MM;-) aka Kona Krazy miKe mcKoffee
Variable Variac Rockin' Rosto Roasting
Miss Silvia brewin'
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15) From: David Westebbe
<Snip>
Maybe that was my problem?  I have a MUCH bigger problem now - one of the
little ears on the top burr assembly has broken.  So now I get horribly
uneven grinds.  I just bought the grinder in June, so I am not terribly
happy about it.
<Snip>
With the cheesecloth, until the burr holder broke, I was grinding two clicks
above the espresso icon, and it worked very well.  I think that you get more
dust with a coarser grind using a Maestro.
When I get my new top burr, I'll try your setting and the Hario filter, and
see how it goes.
I'm also planning on visiting JoAnn Fabrics with the two commercial filters
I have, to see what they have which might work better.  One thing I really
want to play with is some polyester mesh, like sheer curtains are made from,
to see what that will do.
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16) From: Les & Becky
Dave,
I do think it has a one year warranty!  I would check it out!
Les

17) From: David Westebbe
<Snip>
Yep.  I called Baratza today on the phone.  The are sending me a new piece
right away.  No need for an invoice or anything.  I am impressed.
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