HomeRoast Digest

Topic: too many Espresso variables... (9 msgs / 275 lines)
1) From: Jim Karavias
I've finally had some time to experiment with my new Europiccola and I'm
finding success to be somewhat elusive.  At this point I've pulled about 30
shots and I'm very slowly zeroing in on a decent flavor. I'm at the point
where I need to start being very systematic about changing variables but I'm
not sure where to start since there are so many of them.
I'm using Monkey Blend, roasted in my BBQ to a rolling second crack in about
18 mins.  Satin surface with a rare oil spot or two scattered in the batch.
I grind it on a Rocky to a point where 14 grams in the double basket and a
number of 30lb tamps (still haven't gotten the right size tamper) result in
a 15 second pull requiring a fair amount of pressure on the lever (I'm
guessing 30-35 lbs) and yeilding about an oz and a quarter of crema laden
espresso.  When I autopsy the puck it is fairly uniform and very dry but
occasionally shows striations from the multiple tamps.
To me the taste is best described as 'tart' with an edge kind of like
grapefruit juice concentrate that is dominant on the finish and in the
aftertaste.  I wouldn't call it bitter or acrid, more like tannic. It has
good body - almost syrupy. I've had a couple of shots that weren't so tart
and where the smoothness and sweetness of Tom's description came through.
But that's certainly been the exception.
Given that Tom's description says that when roasted light, Monkey Blend can
be a shock to the palate I'm wondering if that's what's going on here. The
roast doesn't seem light to me though.  Any opinions or advice?  [on how to
improve the espresso, not on how to deal with my OCD ;) ]

2) From: Ron
snip from Jim Karavias:
Jim I'm not a big fan of Monkey Blend, it has always been to bright for my
taste. The only way I could somewhat enjoy it, is roast it to just past
roaring 2nd crack, and stop it just as 2nd crack starts to slow down a bit.
Produces a less acidic and more pungent brew
Those who use a 58mm double basket usually use about 18 grs of coffee. I
have a Krupps Gusto with a 51 mm basket and use about 15 grams tamped at
about 30 lbs of pressure. There are others on this list that have far more
Espresso experience then I do. I'm sure you will get quite a few good
good luck
Gas Grill Drum Roasting
in Anderson SC

3) From: Mark Neuhausen
When you describe tart as in grapefruit concentrate, I taste sour.  Sour
usually results from too low an extraction temperature and would effect all
of your shots.  Also, the "normal" time given for a shot of espresso is
25-30 seconds from start of extraction to end of extraction, so 15 seconds
may also be underextracted.  I have had Monkey Blend from City Roast to
Vienna, and never had a tart flavor in it.
Best of luck.

4) From: Jason Molinari
Jim, first thing that comes to mind from my Europiccola days, is " are you warming the group before the 1st shot?"
If i remember correctly, i remember having to pull about 3-4 oz. of water thru the group before my 1st shot, otherwise the water would be cooled too much by the cold metal group. Problem is that once you do that, and you overshoot the correct temp, you're in trouble, and need to use a cold wet towell to bring the temp. of the group back down.

5) From: Paul Thilking
I have been using a Pavoni Professional with similar results. I was using
Peet's Espresso Forte for a long time. I had pretty much refined my 
technique based on suggestions from the book "Espresso Coffee: Professional
Techniques" by David Schomer. But I was still not getting a good crema.
It was always thin.
Then I roasted some Liquid Amber, and later some Monkey Blend. The results
were awesome. Lots of crema and much better taste. I think the major
breakthrough was just having really fresh coffee.
I am using a Whirly Pop and getting good results. I roast to a Northern
Italian style roast, which seems lighter than the Peet's blend. I roast
about 15 seconds into second crack. Not much oil present on the beans at
It's been a couple weeks since I've tasted the Monkey Blend, but I remember
a bit of a tangy taste too. Even more so with the Liquid Amber. I assumed
this was just the taste of the blends, which were coming through with the
lighter roast compare to other coffees I tried. Maybe it's not the ideal,
but I liked the flavor. I used to drink Starbucks espresso a lot. I've been
away from it for awhile since I've been making espresso at home. But last
week I tried some and it definitely had kind of a "burnt" taste compare
to the home roast. I really like the lighter espresso roasts now.
Here's the details of my routine with the Pavoni and Rocky. I'm curious
if you do one or two "pumps" of the lever for a double shot. I've been
doing two. If I do just one pump, the puck is totally soaking wet afterwards
and sneezes even if I wait a long time.
10s pre-infusion
17s full first pump
8s full and faster second pump. I usually don't take all the liquid at
the end of the second pump because it's getting too light. I need to
experiment with this and learn when to stop. Maybe even stop before
the second pump lever action is done. I tasted the first pump, emptied
the pitcher, then did the second pump. The second tasted weaker, and
maybe very slightly more bitter, but I think the double pump method is
ok. The first pump was really syrupy, but the second was more
watery. I've seen comments on the web about only doing one pump, but
it just doesn't seem like enough volume and I get the wet puck
syndrome and harsh taste.
#13. I also cleaned Rocky recently. It wasn't too dirty, but I'll bet
it helps. I'm also completely cleaning out the shute that the coffee
comes through into the doser each time. So I am no longer using stale
coffee. And the shute holds quite a bit of it too.
Tom's Home Roasting page on the Pavoni says the grind should be as
coarse as possible, but still clump when you pinch it. The 13 grind
seems to match that, and is giving me good pump pressure and
results. The pucks are looking good too.
Full level basket like in Schomer book. Level it off with
finger. After tamping, I measured the coffee level and the distance to
the screen in the group head. It turned out to be a 3 mm distance,
just as recommended in the Schomer book.
Using the Schomer method with a twist.
30 lb tamp. I gradually tamp lightly, and give one tap. Then I work my
way around the edges and press the tamper down at an angle around
the edges to make sure I don't have a gap at the edge. Then I polish
and do the full 30 lb tamp and a full 720 polish. I gradually back off
on the pressure as I polish.
I let out a little steam to get the boiler pressure down to 0.75 to
0.80 bar.
I'm finding that my roasted coffee is the best. I think the freshness
has been my major breakthrough that is finally giving me great
crema. Also, the first Liquid Amber roast and my second Monkey Blend
roast were a little darker than Northern Italian and right on Northern
Italian, respectively. I think the Northern Italian roast tastes the
best and is giving me great crema. This roast is recommended by
Schomer also. I think the Peet's coffee I was using is a little darker
than this, more oily, and definitely not as fresh.
The shot volumes are about 1.5 oz or slightly more, so I think I'm getting
basically the Vivace Double Ristretto Recipe:
1.5 oz shot vol
16 g coffee
25-30s pull

6) From: jim gundlach
On Sunday, July 20, 2003, at 11:49  PM, Jim Karavias wrote:
    This sounds like you are extracting at too low a temperature.  With 
the LaPaoni  (sorry the key between c and b seems to hae quit working) 
you can lose a lot of heat from the water to the group head and piston 
assembly.  Try pulling a couple of slow blank shots to heat the front 
components up a bit.  I produced the same taste this morning with the 
Silia because we forgot to set the alarm and I had to leae the house 
within ten minutes of when I got up.
Jim Gundlach

7) From: Jim Karavias
Jim, Thanks ery much for that aluable piece of information.  It has
definitely made a difference in the flaor of my espresso and increased my
Joie de ire.  It is still a bright cup and I might prefer a different blend
but its MUCH better.

8) From: Jim Karavias
Paul - Very cool description. Thanks. It confirmed that I wasn't off base by
tamping around the edges.  I wasn't sure it was normally necessary to do
multiple tamps, but I'm using the tamper provided by La Pavoni and its a
requirement with such a small tamper.

9) From: miKe mcKoffee

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