HomeRoast Digest


Topic: Espresso Advice (42 msgs / 1227 lines)
1) From: Sheldon W. Halpern
 
I'm quite new to home roasting. I have a new Fresh Roast roaster (from 
Sweet Marias) and I've been trying to do an espresso with body but low acid 
and a mellow taste (rather than bite). I'm confused as to whether I should 
be roasting to the dark, oily/shiny stage or something lighter, closer to 
Vienna. So far the best taste has resulted from a base of Sumatra 
Mandelhing natural decaf to which I've added a little Malabar and Ethiopian 
but it's still not right.
Any suggestions would be most appreciated.
Thanks
Sheldon W. Halpern

2) From: Robert Cantor
Roast the Sumatran to around the second crack, add some Brazilian to
anywhere around the second crack or Columbian past the second crack.  Try
Mexican to just before the second crack or any central near second crack.
Bob C.
rcantor

3) From: cationic
Sheldon,
You may want to try something different for your base. I find the Sumatra
excellent as a minor component, but overpowering as the base. The bases that
work for me are Brazil Cerrado Monte Carmelo and/or Mexican Tres Flechas. I
usually blend in Sumatra, Sulawesi, Yemen, and others. Experimenting is fun!
Regards,
Rafael
<Snip>

4) From: coffenut
Sheldon,
I remember having the same question (back when I had what espresso experts
would call a toy for a machine).  Initially, I thought all beans used for
espresso had to roasted to a dark oily level and I didn't own a roaster back
then.  Even though my espresso machine wasn't very good, I began to
experiment with beans roasted to city and full city.  I liked the results
much better than using beans that were roasted dark and oily.  One of these
days, I hope to afford one of the machines that Tom sells like the Solis.
My family's taste preferences run similar to yours.  If the coffee has too
much of a bite..the family quickly puts the bite on me.
Coffenut  :^)
<Snip>

5) From: Mark Jones
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IGEgd2F5LCBidXQgdGhlbiBhZ2FpbiwgbXkgd2lmZSB3b3VsZCBmaW5kIGEgd2F5IHRvIG1ha2Ug
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6) From: Edward Bourgeois
Sounds like your on the edge of the very slippery slope.
On Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 5:05 PM, Mark Jones  wrote:
<Snip>
ound the thought of advancing my espresso setup. I currently have a Brevill=
e Cafe Modena and the Jura Capresso Inifinity (Stainless.) The espresso mac=
hine, my wife got it free from being at the Martha Stewart show. I bought t=
he Capresso thinking it was a nice grinder for making some decent espressos=
 and americanos. I make espresso from time to time, but mainly use my Europ=
ress for the americanos.
<Snip>
cky. Can I afford them? Well, I'm sure I'd find a way, but then again, my w=
ife would find a way to make me regret it. Could someone please respond and=
 tell me that what I have is alright and to wait on the new equipment?
<Snip>
 as much as I use it.
<Snip>
ariascoffee.com
<Snip>
ee.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=7820
-- =
Ed Bourgeois aka farmroast
Amherst MA.http://coffee-roasting.blogspot.com/Homeroast mailing list
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7) From: Greg Hollrigel
LoL - I think you're asking the wrong group :-).  If you haven't already,
and you want to learn more about upgraditis, I also suggest looking at
home-barista and coffeegeek.
If you don't want the expense, and you are OK with what you have, stay there
and don't look behind the curtain.  Once you look (or taste) you start
slipping...  I know I am ... and I have a decent set up.  I still am eyeing
my $400 grinder and my $2000 brew master.  Where's my lotto ticket!
G
On Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 2:05 PM, Mark Jones  wrote:
<Snip>
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8) From: Mike Chester
I have a LM GS-3, so I am in no position to talk anyone out of anything.  I 
believe that the only true way to eliminate temptation is to yield to it.
Mike Chester
--------------------------------------------------
From: "Mark Jones" 
Sent: Thursday, January 07, 2010 5:05 PM
To: "Sweet Maria" 
Subject: [Homeroast] Espresso advice
<Snip>
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9) From: Yakster
Mike, I love that motto, I just don't think I can tell that to my Wife and
live.
For most of last year my espresso setup was a DeLonghi BAR140 I found at a
thrift store that I chopped the portafilter on and replace the pressurized
basket paired with a ceramic hand mill coffee grinder.  The espresso machine
was so cheap at the thrift store that I picked up a backup (about $15, I
think).  I was able to pull some very good espresso shots out of this setup
once in a while, but it did require a lot of temperature surfing to achieve
anything worthwhile.
Well, I finally broke down and picked up a better machine, a lever espresso
machine no less, the La Peppina.  It's quite a change and is showing some of
the limitations of my hand grinder, but it's a lot of fun.  I was able to
put together a PID from parts a friend had in his garage for temperature
control.  This luxury was a little hard for my Wife to swallow, however, and
it's going to be a while (and a dishwasher and a TV) before I can think of
upgrading the grinder.
It is indeed a slippery slope.  Could I have lived on with the DeLonghi?
Probably, but it wouldn't be as much fun and even though the economy is in
the dumps, we all need a little fun in our lives to keep from going crazy.
BTW:  If I hadn't gone for the Lever, I was seriously looking at the Lelit
machine and grinder as an upgrade.
-Chris
On Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 3:10 PM, Mike Chester  wrote:
<Snip>
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10) From: Doug Hoople
Hi Mark,
I think I'm the only one here immune to this disease. That's because I don't
drink espresso.
Short of that, I think you're doomed. Enjoy the journey of the damned! :)
Doug
On Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 2:05 PM, Mark Jones  wrote:
<Snip>
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11) From: Steven Van Dyke
Ease your way into it - get a MyPressi Twist to =
use with the grinder you have.  Then the only =
thing you might need to add is a hot water pot.
I also don't do much espresso so I'm happy with the Twist.
Here are the tips I've picked up from the HomeBarista forum:
1) - something I actually figured out.   Some N2O =
cartridges are shorter than others.  Check the =
length and if it's shorter than the ones that =
come with the Twist use something to pad it to =
length.  A bit of  double-stick foam  tape with =
some paper over it (so it won't stick to the end =
cap) should work.  Right now I'm using a folded =
bit of paper.  Without it you'll lose pressure and waste cartridges.
2) Take the basket out and re-assemble the =
unit.  Fill with fresh boiled water, put on the =
cap and let it warm up while you measure and =
grind your coffee (at least a minute).  Dump the =
water in the water chamber into your cup to =
pre-warm it.  Refill the chamber with freshly =
boiled water (your hot pot should get back to =
boiling very quickly).  Let that warm it for 30 =
seconds while you load and tamp the basket.  Put =
the basket in, reboil the water and refill the =
chamber with freshly boiled water.  Dump your cup =
pre-heat and pull the shot.  Naked shots are dead =
easy - you just remove the bottom part of the =
unit that serves as a catcher / splitter.  Note: =
it's best if your cup is a little wider than the =
bottom of the filter so you can contain sprays if your tamp is off.
It seems like a pain for temp control but it's =
really less of a bother than some of the =
temperature surfing regimes I've heard.
If you enjoy the Twist and find you're having =
enough espresso to justify it, *then* you can get =
the really good machine and keep the Twist for work / travel.
If you find that you don't do espresso that much =
then the Twist will probably be all you need and =
it doesn't take up much room *or* much bank account. ;)
At 04:05 PM 1/7/2010, you wrote:
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12) From: John Mac
You are not the only one here Doug, I'm also  not a "dark sider" :-)
That  has a lot to do with never having a good espresso like the one's
discussed here.
That's probably a good thing when a proper set up will set you back almost a
grand!
Cheers!
John in Nor Cal
On Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 4:59 PM, Doug Hoople  wrote:
<Snip>
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13) From: John A C Despres
Hmmm. Since it appears an upgrade is imminent, I suggest buying the grinder
first. That way you can improve your coffee with other gear you already
have. Starting with Miss Silvia could make you jump to the grinder right
away and a quick cash outlay. Once you have the grinder and your wife gets
used to it and the improved coffee and your wallet has rebounded a bit, buy
the espresso machine.
I hope this helps.
John
On Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 9:21 PM, John Mac  wrote:
<Snip>
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14) From: Ryan M. Ward
Hi Mark, 
I have a Rancilio Silvia and a Capresso Infinity myself. I am not familiar with the machine you currently have (it looks to be constructed on par with my old Cuisinart machine, just by looking on Amazon).
Feel free to read a review I wrote for the Silvia here (This link points to all of my reviews on Amazon, the Silvia review should be the first one):http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A2N471I8E0FQ7M/ref=cm_cr_pr_auth_rev?ieF8&sort_by=MostRecentReviewI can tell you that the Silvia is a great machine, particularly if you prefer manual machines. The pressure build up is excellent and sufficient to pull a good shot and to froth milk in a more timely manner (compared to lower end models). The espresso quality is good but as with most machines, getting the right grind can be a challenge (on the inifinity, I set the hopper dial to between fine and extra fine I think, leaning more toward fine). The silvia is a single boiler machine, but it sounds like that is what you already have and are content with. 
As I have alluded to, the Silvia is constructed with simplicity in mind, the steam wand does not have any attachments designed to make frothing easier (I consider this a strength, I have yet to use a weird froth wand attachment thing and have any real success). 
So in summary, if you don't mind a single boiler machine and don't mind a manual machine, I think you will be very happy with the Silvia and STRONGLY recommend it. 
Now for the Capresso Infinity vs. Rancilio Rocky. I do not own a Rocky and thus cannot give you an honest recommendation on this issue. I will say that I am very happy with my infinity and do not consider upgrading a top priority. One thing though that really is lacking in the inifinty which is an optional upgrade in the rocky is a doser. Again, not a huge priority for me but it would be nice and would bring back fond memories of working in an actual coffee shop.
The major thing that drew me to the infinity (besides the cost savings), is the fact that the infinity is a conical burr grinder, the infinity has a lower RPM rating which means less heat distributed across the grounds(I am not certain exactly how much of a difference this make but this was my thinking at the time), the rocky is a disc burr grinder. 
The thing that ultimately made up my mind regarding not buying the rocky was the fact that I read several reviews which complained about the consistancy of the grind with a Rocky. I cannot comment on this from personal experience, but 
I do intend to "upgrade" to a better grinder some day, the rocky is not the number one on my list but I certainly have not dismissed it from my considerations. Personally, if I was in your position, I would (after some shopping around and research) buy the Silvia for sure, you can't beat a quality machine. You already have a decent grinder, I am sure there are better ones but personally, I do not think getting a new one is absolutely critical, use the Silvia to justify a new grinder later(if you need to). Of course if you can afford it, why not get one.
Ryan M. Ward
*Note: This email was sent from a computer running Ubuntu Linux 8.04 (Hardy Heron)http://www.ubuntu.com<Snip>
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15) From: raymanowen
It is significant that you got the stainless-cased Infinity grinder. The
grinder mechanisms were housed in either a black ABS or stamped and deep
drawn sheet of stainless steel.
The extra dollars are for machine looks- the grounds, however, look
identical. -ro
On Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 3:05 PM, Mark Jones  wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Persist in old ways; expect different results - suborn Insanity...
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16) From: Ryan M. Ward
I want to emphasize by the way, my comments regarding the grinder should be=
 taken as from someone who does not have a Rocky but does have an infinity =
and uses it with a Silvia. I am sure the Rocky is a good grinder (I know se=
veral people who own and swear by them). My perspective is that if you have=
 to choose one or the other, go with the espresso machine, the infinity is =
good enough to produce a good shot with the Silvia. =
Based on the following I pulled from wholelattelove.com:
"The ESP6SXL Café Modena Espresso Machine brings precision and care to
the home brewing experience. With a Thermoblock heating system and 15
bars of pressure, this Breville model creates the perfect environment
for espresso extraction. Thanks to the Dual Wall Crema System, brewing
a café-quality shot is fast and simple. The ESP6SXL Café Modena also
delivers continuous steam to accommodate latte and cappuccino drinkers."
This machine sounds a lot like my old machine, I am sceptical that upgradin=
g your grinder is going to improve espresso quality by much, further- the p=
ressure in the steam wand of the Silvia really makes a difference in foam s=
tructure(I am of the school of thought that a quality milk/espresso drink i=
s equally dependant on foam and espresso shot quality, afterall, what is a =
cappucino with crappy foam). =
So in summary (after my long winded explaination), I did not mean suggest t=
hat the Rocky is a bad buy, I simply think that all things considered, the =
ratio of marginal benefit to marginal cost of the Silvia is greater than th=
e same ratio for the rocky considering what you already have on your counte=
r top- especially since you can always upgrade one or the other later on.
Ryan M. Ward
*Note: This email was sent from a computer running Ubuntu Linux 8.04 (Hardy=
 Heron)http://www.ubuntu.com<Snip>
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ound the thought of advancing my espresso setup. I currently have a Brevill=
e Cafe Modena and the Jura Capresso Inifinity (Stainless.) The espresso mac=
hine, my wife got it free from being at the Martha Stewart show. I bought t=
he Capresso thinking it was a nice grinder for making some decent espressos=
 and americanos. I make espresso from time to time, but mainly use my Europ=
ress for the americanos. =
<Snip>
<Snip>
<Snip>
<Snip>
y. Can I afford them? Well, I'm sure I'd find a way, but then again, my wif=
e would find a way to make me regret it. Could someone please respond and t=
ell me that what I have is alright and to wait on the new equipment? =
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 as much as I use it. =
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ariascoffee.com
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ee.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=7820
 		 	   		  =
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17) From: miKe mcKoffee
<Snip>
John, whatever you do DO NOT ever stop by my newly opened Roastery
Coffeehouse running 4 Mazzer espresso grinders paired with dual PID'd 4grp
Linea. Yesterday pulled what was almost (but not quite) my first GodShot in
almost a year, a simply stunning almost (but not quite:-) knock me off my
feet SO Sidamo DP shot. (Roasted specifically for SO espresso, at 6 days
rest) A soaring balanced deep milk chocolaty and creamy sweet pink
grapefruit attack upfront ending in a jammy blueberry linger of close to two
hours. Man that sucker almost bowled me over, couldn't quit smiling for an
hour, but not quite a Godshot. (Remember, my bar is set rather high for
calling a Godshot:-)
For many it can get much much worse than that. Slippery slope indeed. If
buying my espresso "beginners setup" of yesteryear yes today it would run
'bout a grand today, Silvia and Rocky. Today my kitchen counter espresso
machine would run close to $2k. For some like Mr. Chester it ends (maybe)
with a ~$7.5k GS 3 and a grinder costing more than that original $1k
beginners total setup... And there are some home barista even further down
the rabbit hole than Mr. Chester!
Beware the power of the dark side, forever can it control your destiny.
Simply good espresso is something to figure out why it wasn't better and how
make it better next time!
Slave to the Bean Kona Konnaisseur miKe mcKoffeehttp://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately the quest for Koffee Nirvana is a solitary path. To know I must">http://www.NorwestCoffee.comURL to Rosto mods, FrankenFormer, some recipes etc:http://www.mckoffee.com/Ultimately 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.
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18) From: raymanowen
Any method of brewing that uses hot water to extract flavor and aroma from
coffee, while releasing the oils to the cup, absolutely depends on having
uniform sized coffee particles.
Just like coal dust can combust explosively and large chunks burn for hours,
coffee fines extract instantly, then over extract while the larger coffee
particles may only partially (under) extract during the brew. No way around
it, but people already know that.
Blade grinders give you a choice. Grind faster by holding the button down.
The added benefit is that the high velocity blade breaks the beans apart,
then whips them again in a cloud of coffee dust.
Depending upon when you release the button, some useful-sized chunks may
remain. Much of the Kaleidoscope grind has become instant coffee dust with a
progressive size distribution. All the grounds in the filter basket get
brewed for the same length of time and any other changes just re-balance
over extraction with under extraction.
Nothing can be perfect when it's all different.
The better* grinder always improves even the meanest brewing methods. Coffee
machines are like computer applications- Garbage in, Garbage out.
*Not It- the shiny toy with buttons, lights, knobs and digital readouts.
Cheers, Mabuhay -RayO, aka Opa!
Why saddle a good espresso machine or any coffee brewer with a crummy
grinder?
*This email sent on an Underwood typewriter connected to a Tesla Coil.*
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19) From: raymanowen
"...fond memories of _ an actual coffee shop."
Me, too. The Staling Chamber for grounds and the one for beans, known
respectively as Doser and Hopper, are the antitheses of Fresh. The actual
coffee shops were the location of execrable espresso, the vile dreck being
swamped in sugars, syrups, spices, et cetera, instead of unadulterated
drinks.
How could coffee people refer to their hobby espresso in glowing terms,
while professionals manage to use some Rube Goldberg machinery to turn
coffee beans into some of the most vile beverage on the planet?
In an effort to prove to myself how bad espresso shots really are, I took a
leap from a comical-burred Solis Maestro Plus to a big Mazzer grinder.
Neither one had a doser and for the life of me, why in the Blue Blazes would
I want to do that to the coffee, anyway? -ro
On Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 11:06 PM, Ryan M. Ward
wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
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20) From: Hank Perkins
For what it is worth.  I am not a big espresso drinker.  I make drip
coffee.  I use a Rocky.  I upgraded my grinder first it made a huge
improvement.  Recently I ordered a Technivorm Moccamaster.  It made as
big of a difference in my coffee as the Rocky.  One thing, always
preheat your coffee maker no matter if it is espresso or drip.
On Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 4:05 PM, Mark Jones  wrote:
<Snip>
ound the thought of advancing my espresso setup. I currently have a Brevill=
e Cafe Modena and the Jura Capresso Inifinity (Stainless.) The espresso mac=
hine, my wife got it free from being at the Martha Stewart show. I bought t=
he Capresso thinking it was a nice grinder for making some decent espressos=
 and americanos. I make espresso from time to time, but mainly use my Europ=
ress for the americanos.
<Snip>
cky. Can I afford them? Well, I'm sure I'd find a way, but then again, my w=
ife would find a way to make me regret it. Could someone please respond and=
 tell me that what I have is alright and to wait on the new equipment?
<Snip>
 as much as I use it.
<Snip>
ariascoffee.com
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21) From: michael brown
I've got the itch for an upgrade myself.  I was given an estro machine with the understanding, "if i could clean it and get it to work, it was mine."  produces decent espresso.  I also recently got a Krups XP2070 espresso and coffee maker, free, under the same circumstances from a girl i work with.  It's terrible.  I'm thinking of Ebaying the Krups and using that money to go towards a Gaggia?
As far as grinders, i'll say this; i went from a cuisinart grinder (pretty cheap from target) to a virtuoso in my early playings with the Estro, under the recommendations from the list.  The virtuoso is not an espresso specific grinder, but it does have little conveniences that make it very espresso friendly, like the pulse button so you can hold your portafilter directly under the chute.  Long story short, i was BLOWN AWAY at the difference the grinder made.  So my next move is to upgrade the espresso machine again, then upgrade the grinder.  Maybe a Super Jolly.  I've seen some great prices on Ebay for such things.  Or i might play it safe, wait for tax refunds to buy something new from SM.  So don't underestimate what upgrading the grinder will do.
Michael B
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22) From: Jim Gundlach
Looking back on my experiences, I recommend starting with a better  
grinder.  When I got my grinder I was focused on getting a better  
espresso machine but I ran across a non-working Mazzer Royal at a used  
restaurant supply store for $40.00 and I bought it as a fix-it  
project.  It turned out that it only had a broken power cord.  The  
burrs were a little dull and I went ahead and ordered new burrs for  
abut $60.00.  I ended up paying only about $100.00 for a machine that  
costs almost $1,500 new. It works perfectly and outside of turning to  
home roasting and finding SweetMarias as a source of coffee, getting  
the Mazzer Royal improved the quality of my coffee more than anything  
else.  I do not regret putting close to $1,500 into an espresso  
machine but I'd say that the quality espresso machine  improved the  
quality of my drink only about half as much as getting and fixing the  
Mazzer.
On Jan 7, 2010, at 4:05 PM, Mark Jones wrote:
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23) From: Frank Parth
Mark,
Let me explain how this works -
You calculate your planned expenses, double it, then buy something equally nice for the wife!
See. Very simple. Has always worked for me.
Frank Parth
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24) From: Mike Koenig
Mark,
My two cents on the matter (as someone who has owned both a Silvia and a
Rocky, and since upgraded..).  I'd recommend getting the grinder now, and
learning a bit more about whether you want to go further down the espresso
path before you jump into a new espresso machine.
The Silvia is certainly a decent machine, and I enjoyed it for many years,
but in the last few years has gotten fairly expensive for what it is. For a
few hundred dollars more, you can get a machine with much greater
temperature stability (both between shots and during the shot).  Truly good
shots are somewhat random and take a bit of fussing to achieve.
If you can get a used Silvia in good shape, that might be a viable option,
but right now at $600 new I don't see it as a good value when for $400 more
you can get something like a Nuova Simonelli Oscar.
Might be better to wait until you can afford a better machine, rather than
spend $600 now, and $1500 a few years later (like I did..)
If you plan to use the grinder for espresso,  I'd recommend getting the
doser model, though I know others on the list will vehemently disagree with
me.  The clumps I used to get with my doserless Rocky were frustrating to no
end, and required a lot of manipulation to alleviate.  Dosers do a wonderful
job of breaking up the clumps, at the expense of some difficulty with
cleaning.
--mike
On Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 5:05 PM, Mark Jones  wrote:
<Snip>
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25) From: John Borella
I'd definitely have to agree with Jim. Get the best grinder you can with the 
$$ you have to spend. New Rockys are $359; for that much or less you can 
find a nice Super Jolly or Major on Ebay, Craig's List or CoffeeGeek. If 
these are too big for your counter space then scrap up $30 more & buy a new 
Baratza Vario.

26) From: Joseph Robertson
RayO,
Now you have me seriously confused. I know you scored a nice grinder thanks
to miKe M. so that is not my confusion. My confusion lies in the fact, or so
I thought, that you at one point did like espresso. Now from your last two
postings here I take it that you have never liked espresso and like it even
less now.
Is this true? Or have I again completely have your post up side down and
inside out?
JoeR
On Fri, Jan 8, 2010 at 2:30 AM,  wrote:
<Snip>
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27) From: Ryan M. Ward
I would not call an infinity a crummy grinder. This was my point.
Ryan M. Ward
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28) From: Ray
I got into a  Macap4 it was a display model for hundreds less than it's
list price.  You have to call the different coffee supply venders and ask or
go to places like there Burgan's on there web sight.
Or if space is a problem like my choice was it fits under the cabinets.

29) From: Ryan M. Ward
Ok, let me further reiterate my point. If Mark had posted that he had a Cuisinart grinder (feel free to read my review on the Cuisinart grinder), I would agree completely with everyone here that upgrading an espresso machine would not be followed with a better shot. I agree that uniformity in particle size is one of the most important factors in shot quality. My point is that the infinity is already a descent grinder. It is NOT a crummy grinder. Do I think it is the Roles Royce of grinders? Heck no! But I would consider it the Toyota Camary. (Its certainly not a Ford!). 
Looking at the specs of the machine he currently has, I feel that upgrading the machine NOW would yield a greater advance in product NOW given his particular budgetary parameters, while shopping around for a grinder later will yield an even better product later. 
If he posted that all he had was a blade grinder, I would be saying "do not upgrade the machine until you get a grinder."
I will say, that a previous poster did have sound advice in recommending that you hold off until you can afford a slightly better machine. The price of the Silvia has gone up, this is true, many higher end models have remained fixed in price(relatively). I still stand by the advice, however, that the Silvia is a good investment .
To summarize, good product in to crummy machine, crummy product out, is still crummy product.
"In an effort to prove to myself how bad espresso shots really are, I took a
leap from a comical-burred Solis Maestro Plus to a big Mazzer grinder.
Neither one had a doser and for the life of me, why in the Blue Blazes would
I want to do that to the coffee, anyway? -ro"
What is your point here, I have missed it? 
Ryan M. Ward
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30) From: Sandy Andina
I used an Estro Profi for several years---it had a built-in burr grinder which ground directly into the PF.  When the burrs dulled I was able to get an insanely good deal on a LaPavoni PGB from Zabar's. It had stepless adjustment and the option to remove the grounds bin and grind directly into the PF. Its only faults were lots of static and a plastic housing.  I used it with my Silvia in 2005 till I got an equally insane deal on a very gently used Rocky.   
The Estro should pull good shots and steam decently (albeit in small volumes) when equipped with a non-pressurized basket and paired with a good heavy tamper (52mm, I think, might even be 49) and a good burr grinder. A homeroaster friend of mine has a Saeco (the real maker of Estro) Vapore (which I also had and gave to my sister once I got the Profi) which he uses with a Gaggia MDF grinder;  he pulls great shots and makes "latte macchiato:" steams the milk in the mug and then pulls the shot directly into it.  A method I used to use, and while it isn't pretty, it can be yummy.  Only true shortcoming of the Estro/Saeco semiauto family is that nowadays I think you have to order the nonpressurized baskets/PFs separately; and that the PFs are 52mm one-piece cast brass (the cheapest models are aluminum, as are those on Krups machines) with integrated spouts, rather than the industry-std. 58mm with interchangeable spouts.   There isn't sufficient mass to get really, really hot and hold the heat for optimal body and crema.  But it's WORLDS better than the flimsy Krups (trust me, I've owned two Krups pumpers) and the odd little R2D2-esque Capresso Ultima I let myself be talked into buying.
On Jan 8, 2010, at 8:01 AM, michael brown wrote:
<Snip>
Peace & song, 
Sandy 
www.sandyandina.com
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31) From: Sandy Andina
I would recommend--if you had to choose between one and the other--springing for a great grinder if you can afford it, rather than a Silvia or even a heat-exchanger machine right now.  The grinder will make a bigger difference in the quality of your shots.  What advantage the Silvia gave me over the Crapesso Ultima was greater steaming capacity, control over tamp and dosage, and ability to keep my machine squeaky-clean. Going up to a heat exchanger machine (as I later did with first a Pasquini Livia 90A and then, after it irreparably broke, a La Cora--a rebadged tricked out Andreja Premium) buys you an easier and more reliably repeatable espresso and steaming experience while still maintaining full control:  much less temp-surfing, and limitless steam and hot water capacity (and a separate wand for the latter).  I seriously doubt I will move up to a dual boiler machine, and I know I have all the grinder I need in my Mazzer Mini. But I suspect that if you sink the bucks into a Silvia first and make espresso and milk drinks for more than one or two people, you will soon tire of having to ride herd on temp and steam supply and be inclined to upgrade yet again. If you pop for a Rocky (or better yet, a Mazzer or other sturdy stepless grinder), you will probably stick with your grinder.   I also have to agree that when the Silvia was $400 it was a pretty good deal compared to a heat exchanger--but the newest Silvias are going for $600-700 (and at least $150-200 more if you want PID controls installed).  For that money, you are close to heat exchanger territory; in fact, gently used Nuova Simonelli Oscars can be found for that price (their only downside is no hot water dispensing--you have to steam a cup or pitcher of water you've drawn separately), and lower-end Expobars also under a grand.
Moreover, the best grinders are built like tanks and usually the only repairs you'll ever need will be new burrs.  However, machines have all kinds of infuriating and perplexing ways to go blooey.
On Jan 8, 2010, at 9:52 AM, Mike Koenig wrote:
<Snip>
Peace & song, 
Sandy 
www.sandyandina.com
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32) From: michael brown
Sandra,
hmmmm, haven't thought about switching out the portafilter on the estro.  when you say non-preasurized, do you mean one without a spring in it?  what difference does this make?  and i have to admit, i went through two different tamps before finding one that fit well.  kind of embarrassing really. 
Michael B
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33) From: Sandy Andina
If counter space is an issue, you can do what friends of mine have--remove the bean hopper entirely from a Mazzer Mini; the "throat" holds exactly the amount of beans you'd need to grind for a double, and you can use your tamper to cover them completely (just a tiny bit wider than the "throat") so they feed into the burrs instead of flying around your kitchen.  Or you can buy a low-profile hopper.
On Jan 8, 2010, at 10:02 AM, John Borella wrote:
<Snip>
Peace & song, 
Sandy 
www.sandyandina.com
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34) From: Ryan M. Ward
Mark, please disregard my opinion, I not longer have confidence that my advice was sound in light of these recent arguments. It is true, I bought my Silvia when it was about $400(I did not look up the price before I decided to give you my opinion), I am not sure that this is a very good deal any longer and personally, Sandra's arguments are very convincing to me (personally, temperature surfing does not bother me and usually is not an issue for me, generally it is adjusting the grinder that gives me trouble, I know that the temperature surfing issue bothers a lot of people). 
I would be interested to know how much the grinder improves your experience with espresso if you choose to go that route, especially since you have the same one as me currently(I am beginning to look at grinders again myself now...). 
Ryan M. Ward
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35) From: raymanowen
"...I thought, that you at one point did like espresso.
[Initially, I was forced to HATE the abominable drinks (Straight shots)
served by genuine baristas at actual coffee shops. Some even told me They
don't like straight shots-!-!-?-?]
Holy Cow- my opinion matched theirs- their opinion and their shots...
Now from your last two postings here I take it that you have never liked
espresso and like it even less now...Or have I again completely have your
post up side down and
inside out?" [You know, the image on the retina of the eye is inverted by
the simple lens...]
I absolutely did not like the beverage as served by every genuine barista at
actual coffee shops. I was ready to reverse my opinion, based on a shot
pulled by my friend, Carol. Daz Bog is a local roaster- the stuff they
delivered just wasn't fresh. Charlatans. I thought, "Damn! Espresso must
just be a way to dispose of coffee beans unfit for consumption."
Sorry, my post got truncated by some scheduled maintenance on the Box of 1's
and 0's. At 0330hrs I'm supposed to be conducting an inspection of the
inside of my eye lids or roasting. Way too cold last night, was Almost 32=
° F
when I roasted 10 hours ago. Cooling/ stopping was a cinch!
IMV FC+. Incredible at a relative 20 on the dial of the Mazzer. (Starting
point for all new espresso) 20 means nothing, but the burr separation is
0.012". I brewed the second shot at 18, or 0.011"  At the first sip, my
Celtic Critic said, "This is *Good,* still room for improvement-"
I hope. The Mason jars were ice cold from the ultra-cooled beans, and the
grounds out of the grinder made the PF basket cold without the normal trip
through the freezer before grinding. How to grind coffee without actually
making the grounds warm.
I got lots of Blueberry aroma from the roast when the beans were becoming
straw colored, none at all in the shots from the juvenile (age15m) roast.
Time will tell. We Love espresso on the odd times I do it right.
Belay 0300 maintenance.
Size matters. Consistent size matters more. Big, sharp burrs matter mostest.
I brewed two test shots on the extremely juvenile roast, first at 0.012"
setting, then 0.011" setting- at dial settings of 20 and 18, respectively.
Once the beans age properly, the flavor difference between 0.011" and 0.012"
is Huge, and that's two increments of the dial.
Single increments (0.0005") vary the brewing time and the resulting espresso
flavor. Even Half Steps (0.00025") make a difference when you're doing some
serious (The Symphony in the Cup!) shot pulling. If you're Not Serious, why
waste the Wampum or the Excellent Beans?
Hilarious Joke, wasting money on beans and an expensive espresso machine,
when the grinder is the bottleneck. If you can't taste the difference
between a 0.011" grind and a 0.0116" or a 0.012" grind, and your grinder
can't hope to hold the increment, you're sitting in the rong pew. It's also
unfair competition with the Crummy Coffee Shops of the galaxy.
Cheers, Mabuhay, Iechyd da -RayO, aka Opa!
-- =
Persist in old ways; expect different results - suborn Insanity...
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36) From: Frank Awbrey
Ahhh, Rayo, if only sometimes you would talk like the rest of us.:>)
On Sat, Jan 9, 2010 at 3:17 AM,  wrote:
<Snip>
°
<Snip>
me
<Snip>
hy
<Snip>
so
<Snip>
ariascoffee.com
<Snip>
-- =
Frank
"Still the one"
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37) From: Joseph Robertson
RayO,
I'm back on track with you. Sceduled maintaince, yes, I could use some of
that my self. I will never question another post of yours out loud here
untill I check the thread for interuptions like that.
And Frank A. it is only a matter of time till you wander off to another list
or learn how to speak RayO. As I have said before here it took me better
than a year to get "pretty" good at interpreting RayO's coffee talk. I can
almost speak it too. That might take some more time and home made spro
though...
If RayO talked like the rest of us I would think he had succumbed to a fatal
condition brought on by spend too much time with the kids drinking *$'s
instant at one of the new stores. ;))))))))))
I can certify and stand behind the claim that if you had a chance to taste
one of the witches brews he describes in the post above you would never
question his form of lingo and coffee prose to explain his passion and
impatience for the next magic shot from his coffee laboratory.
I have tasted some mighty fine shots but few I'm sure come close to his work
with the black gold.
Enjoy the journey,
JoeR
On Sat, Jan 9, 2010 at 2:17 AM,  wrote:
<Snip>
°
<Snip>
me
<Snip>
hy
<Snip>
so
<Snip>
ariascoffee.com
<Snip>
-- =
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38) From: Ryan M. Ward
Rayman , have you ever written a book or considered writting a book, you ha=
ve a writing style(at least from what I see in your posts) very similar to =
an author I used to read and enjoy years ago. =
Ryan M. Ward
*Note: This email was sent from a computer running Ubuntu Linux 8.04 (Hardy=
 Heron)http://www.ubuntu.com<Snip>
<Snip>
<Snip>
<Snip>
<Snip>
 at
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1's
<Snip>
° F
<Snip>
<Snip>
<Snip>
<Snip>
<Snip>
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st.
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12"
<Snip>
<Snip>
sso
<Snip>
me
<Snip>
hy
<Snip>
<Snip>
so
<Snip>
<Snip>
<Snip>
ariascoffee.com
<Snip>
ee.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=7820
 		 	   		  =
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39) From: Yakster
Frank, what would be the fun of that?
Ray-O, I enjoy your emails, though I don't always follow them.
Sheer poetry some times.
-Chris
On 1/9/10, Frank Awbrey  wrote:
<Snip>
2°
<Snip>
ip
<Snip>
y.
<Snip>
mariascoffee.com
<Snip>
ariascoffee.com
<Snip>
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40) From: raymanowen
 I can and will yet learn how to tawk good. Compared to the first time I
roasted IMV in an air popper and got definite blueberries, this latest roast
was greatly extended. Started with 500g in the bread machine and the old, 4X
repaired warm gun.
Initially, as the beans were drifting from green to straw-colored, I was
getting a very clear blueberry aroma. This was about five minutes into the
roast. Maybe, if I had replaced the restrictor plate in the heat nozzle, the
roast would have been hotter, faster and maybe trapped the blueberries.
I got lots of Blueberry aroma from the roast when the beans were becoming
straw colored, none at all in the shots
Maybe the old HT-1000 could be re-tagged as an HT-710 and auctioned on eBay
as a 250g HG/DB coffee roaster combination. At least, it has an upgraded
thermal fuse. Maybe I'll fix the new Fth first before I use it...
Not to hijack the topic, but the Wednesday morning tasse was the 8 Jan IMV
roast @ FC+. Ground at 0.0122" burr separation in the Gzornenblatt. Did it
again this afternoon at 0.0128". A little later I'll do the nitecap at
0.0125". The "refurb" doesn't need Depends, conserves dist H2O.
Dist H2O- I refuse to put stuff in the machine that I have scour out
chemically, will cause the eventual failure of the heating element in a
normal boiler, and are minerals I don't need to consume. Hard water stuff
like Ca and Mg carbonates tend to precipitate out on heat elements,
insulating them so they have to get hotter to transfer the heat.
Thermoblocks are not "boilers" at all. The stainless steel plumbing between
the pump and the hydraulic plenum in the group is cast in aluminum with the
heat element. Never thought about it before but I'll surf the temperature,
pull a blank shot to heat the group plenum, which has almost no thermal
mass, pack and lock the filter basket, re-surf the thermoblock through the
hot water wand, and brew the shot.
I have to choreograph and rehearse that "dance" otherwise I'll incur the
wrath of my Celtic Critic, namely, at a recruiting party for home sales of
"Cafe du Jour" coffee packs at some friends, we sampled some of the stuff
and looked at each other. "Best thing since push-button shave cream, and
tastes like it."
It didn't taste so bad, I just didn't want to get involved. Besides, a
little voice out of the Babbitt was saying "Remember the Aroma Roast."  I
really didn't.
C. C. set me up- "Ray could do a better roast blindfolded..."  Especially
since I couldn't see inside the Aroma Roast anyway! Just a year earlier
(1976) but I forgot about it. Boyer had sold me the little roaster and a
blade grinder for $10 each. The Kenya AA green beans were the same price as
the roasted.
That seemed like a sour deal- I wasn't hit that hard in the head- but I
never followed it up.
Cheers, Mabuhay, Iechyd da -RayO, aka Opa!
Got Grinder?
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41) From: Allon Stern
On Jan 14, 2010, at 1:58 AM, raymanowen wrote:
<Snip>
What I do with my thermoblock machine is:
1) turn on the machine.
2) preheat the PF with 190+ degree water from the BUNN machine in the kitchen down the hall from my office
3) leave the PF loosely seated to keep it hot.
4) when ready to pull a shot, pull out the PF, wipe off condensation with a bit of paper towel, grind/dose/tamp
5) turn on the steam, collecting the steam/water/condensate in the target demitasse. Run it for about 15-30 seconds or so. The thermoblock machine uses the same heater/block for making steam (through a different channel which runs closer to the heating coil), *BUT* in order to make steam, it has to run the temperature up, so it turns the heater on while steaming. This heats up the block which will increase the shot temperature. It also preheats the demitasse.
6) Dump the water from the demitasse into a waiting mug, then pull the shot.
Then serve with a hunk of Scharffen Berger which has been stored in a sealed container with the coffee beans. Ahh, heaven.
Okay, my office mate is telling me to get on with it :D
-
allon
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42) From: raymanowen
SWEET BLUEBERRIES!!!  *WOW, THEY'RE B-A-A-C-K*
Astern, I agree with your thermoblock evaluation
"What I do with my thermoblock machine is:
1) turn on the machine.
2) preheat the PF with 190+ degree water from the BUNN machine in the
kitchen down the hall from my office
3) leave the PF loosely seated to keep it hot.
4) when ready to pull a shot, pull out the PF, wipe off condensation with a
bit of paper towel, grind/dose/tamp
5) turn on the steam, collecting the steam/water/condensate in the target
demitasse. Run it for about 15-30 seconds or so. The thermoblock machine
uses the same heater/block for making steam (through a different channel
which runs closer to the heating coil), *BUT* in order to make steam, it has
to run the temperature up, so it turns the heater on while steaming. This
heats up the block which will increase the shot temperature. It also
preheats the demitasse.
6) Dump the water from the demitasse into a waiting mug, then pull the
shot."
   - Since there is practically no unheated thermal mass between the
   thermoblock and the coffee grounds in the filter basket, I just run a blast
   of water from the steam wand into the demi for 4 seconds to heat the demi
   and burn the h311 out of my thumb when the demi runneth over (Then the Aloe
   gel out of the Fridge... )
   - Make small 0.0127" pieces (0.0005" larger than the original 0.0122"
   espresso starting point) out of big beans,
   - Vibro-compact*, tamp, top the puck with fine mesh filter screen (keeps
   grounds from floating up water column, depositing on group passages)
   - Brew baby, Brew [Just did it again!]
One more thing- the PF handle had a plastic maze in the floor. Didn't really
offer any back pressure at the low flow rate, and consists of three rough
disc- shaped pieces stacked like checkers and held together with a screw.
The four hidden surfaces couldn't be cleaned, even though I soak it and
swish it in my Witches Brew every shot. People actually pay to have their
porta-filter handle bottoms machined out. Easy on the Capresso, with a #10
Torx bit.
I really compacted and tamped this last shot. 2 sec pre-infusion. Got a
stream of pure crema streaming out the bottom of the filter basket. Some of
you guys get that all the time. Later, I'll grind finer and see what happens
at 0.0125"
Gotta quit- we got friends in the quake -ro
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