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My entrance in to the coffee world.
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Discussions > Espresso > General > My entrance in...  
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Nicko999
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Joined: 7 May 2012
Posts: 13
Location: Norway
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Breville Smart
Drip: Moccamaster
Posted Sat May 19, 2012, 1:05pm
Subject: My entrance in to the coffee world.
 

Hello all.

I have finally entered the world of "real" coffee, and I already feel I am enjoying the rewards. After a few set backs, my coffee corner is, I'm happy to say, fully up and running! I thought I'd post a short description of my experiences so far, perhaps someone is interested and I feel this site has been so helpful to me with getting going.

So as it says on the side I am using a Gaggis Classic and a Breville smart grinder. I was very excited about pulling my first shot, I set the grinder to the finest setting, gave it a tamp in my nice tamping station, started the machine and the timer, and 27 seconds later, a perfect double espresso! Call it beginners luck perhaps, but this trend continued. I experimented a bit with different grinder settings and tamping pressures to see the results. I tested out the french press also to great satisfaction! As we don't have any good coffee shops anywhere near to where I live, my espresso was actually the of one of the best I have ever had! Incredibly satisfying!

I should point out that I am using some what I believed to be high quality beans when I ordered them, but, I now know they are not freshly roasted and have a sell by date, I do however enjoy them.

I quickly got through the first 250g bag, and today after returning home from work, changed the beans in the grinder to a different blend. Now, when I filled the portafilter with the grinder on the finest setting and pulled a shot, it was a disaster! A few drops after 15 seconds... I played around with the grind settings, trying to fine tune it, altered my tamping pressure, my results varied massively! I finally (after filling my dunking box) managed to obtain something I was quite satisfied with. It is fair to say as a beginner, my tamping pressure and ability to keep it even throughout may need some fine tuning. I did wonder if perhaps the different type of beans gave different results even when the grinder was set to the same level?

So I am now slightly wired after tasting many espresso shots, and a little overwhelmed and concerned about my double espresso before work tomorrow being up to scratch! What hard work this coffee bussiness is!

I am pleased to say I have signed up for a monthly subscription today from a roasting company called Londinium, and look forward to trying some freshly roasted beans, I wonder how big the difference really is?
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BrianFoster
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BrianFoster
Joined: 1 Apr 2012
Posts: 17
Location: Anoka, MN
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Dalla Corte Evolution,...
Grinder: Maestro, Virtuoso
Vac Pot: Yama
Drip: V60s, Woodneck, Chemex,...
Roaster: Primo PRI20
Posted Sat May 19, 2012, 1:39pm
Subject: Re: My entrance in to the coffee world.
 

The type of bean/blend of beans will have a big effect on the grind setting you'll use.  I send a lot of different coffees through the grinder each day, and a grind setting that pulls a beautiful shot on a single origin Yirgacheffe will gush with a Sumatran Typica, and barely drip with a Hawaiian Mokka.  The first shot with a different bean or blend of beans should be used to dial in the grind.

The tamp really just needs to keep the puck in place for the first few seconds, the machine will exert quite a bit of pressure on the puck.  At 9 bars you're at ~130psi or 896 kPa.

 
Brian Foster
Paradise Coffee Roasters
www.paradiseroasters.com
@paradiseroaster
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,030
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat May 19, 2012, 3:39pm
Subject: Re: My entrance in to the coffee world.
 

Beans vary a lot.  I could never get one bag of beans to dial in for me.  No idea why, it was from a well respected micro roaster within the golden window from the roast date.  But nothing I did made the espresso dial in correctly.  I was very bummed I did not get a good pull from the whole 12 oz. bag.  The first shot from the bag had a few beans in the hopper left over from my last bag and the combo pull tasted like pure liquid chocolate.   I was so excited to taste the full shot of the new beans.  But every single shot I pulled was watery, spritzy and channelly and just plain gross.  It was so bad I first thought my grinder was broken. But I put in some other beans and they were fine. Never had issues like that before or since.  No idea why.  That bag of beans did not like me.  I will try again from that roaster another day.  I am not knocking them.  They are well respected.  It had to be me......

I think Londinium is on the favorite roaster list.  I am sure they will be good.  The site looks amazing.

 
Coffeenoobie

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IMAWriter
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IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,877
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Sat May 19, 2012, 11:37pm
Subject: Re: My entrance in to the coffee world.
 

Nick, all so far responding are correct. Not all beans/blends are equal, however, FRESH is the KEY.
Best to use (for espresso) is at least 5 days POST ROAST DATE till maybe 12-13 days post roast date...if they last that long!!!

Now, a good rule to remember...trey to keep the variables down whilst preparing your shot.
Keep your tamp consistent...change the grind fineness, alter the dose a bit to get the flow rate you are looking for.
That's another thing. Some coffee's want a longer, slower pull to extract the sweetness andy such. Others might be a bit better with a quicker flow rate, to reduce bitterness from over-extraction.

Try either weighing your coffee dose, or maybe use a 7 gram scoop and "eyeball" your beans.

Yes, there are LOTS of variables, so try to keep things like your tamp pressure and distribution technique consistent!!
You'll get it, so enjoy the process!...and the coffee.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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NobbyR
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NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,045
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Sun May 20, 2012, 1:40am
Subject: Re: My entrance in to the coffee world.
 

The type of coffee beans you use is only one factor that influences the required fineness of grounds for proper extraction. Actually the necessary setting of your grinder can change from day to day (or sometimes even within one day) even if you use the same beans, depending on humididy and aging of the beans, for example, or changing from the single shot to the double basket or wanting to make a ristretto instead of a regular espresso.

What is important, like Robert writes, is that you dose, tamp and distribute consistently in order to keep those parameters, which can also influence extraction time, at a constant. Whereat tamping is IMHO the least influential part.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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cappuccinoboy
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Joined: 27 Jun 2009
Posts: 798
Location: MILANO
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Milano pod, Milano fully...
Grinder: grind on demand
Posted Mon May 21, 2012, 2:46pm
Subject: Re: My entrance in to the coffee world.
 

Nicko999 Said:

Hello all.

I have finally entered the world of "real" coffee, and I already feel I am enjoying the rewards. After a few set backs, my coffee corner is, I'm happy to say, fully up and running! I thought I'd post a short description of my experiences so far, perhaps someone is interested and I feel this site has been so helpful to me with getting going.

So as it says on the side I am using a Gaggis Classic and a Breville smart grinder. I was very excited about pulling my first shot, I set the grinder to the finest setting, gave it a tamp in my nice tamping station, started the machine and the timer, and 27 seconds later, a perfect double espresso! Call it beginners luck perhaps, but this trend continued. I experimented a bit with different grinder settings and tamping pressures to see the results. I tested out the french press also to great satisfaction! As we don't have any good coffee shops anywhere near to where I live, my espresso was actually the of one of the best I have ever had! Incredibly satisfying!

I should point out that I am using some what I believed to be high quality beans when I ordered them, but, I now know they are not freshly roasted and have a sell by date, I do however enjoy them.

I quickly got through the first 250g bag, and today after returning home from work, changed the beans in the grinder to a different blend. Now, when I filled the portafilter with the grinder on the finest setting and pulled a shot, it was a disaster! A few drops after 15 seconds... I played around with the grind settings, trying to fine tune it, altered my tamping pressure, my results varied massively! I finally (after filling my dunking box) managed to obtain something I was quite satisfied with. It is fair to say as a beginner, my tamping pressure and ability to keep it even throughout may need some fine tuning. I did wonder if perhaps the different type of beans gave different results even when the grinder was set to the same level?

So I am now slightly wired after tasting many espresso shots, and a little overwhelmed and concerned about my double espresso before work tomorrow being up to scratch! What hard work this coffee bussiness is!

I am pleased to say I have signed up for a monthly subscription today from a roasting company called Londinium, and look forward to trying some freshly roasted beans, I wonder how big the difference really is?

Posted May 19, 2012 link

I have had a chance to taste a bag of LONDINIUM coffee, sent by a London customer for test : not bad at all !!!
That said I just like to warn you against the obsession of our american friends about freshness that is only guaranteed (ONLY, they say) by : roast date.
While it is absolutely true that freshness (and quality of beans) is number one factor to a good-great espresso, our American friends tend to ignore or just aknowledge that industrial packaging has gone a long way to extend shelf life = freshness of our beloved beans, and industrial packaging DOES work, be just one way degassing  valve, alone or in combination with nitrogen flushing or nitrogen pressure tins, otherwise these successfull roasters would resort to freezing, that is readily available.
Also while it is perfectly legitimate to try single origin espressso, Italian espresso is supposed to be from a blend ( for consistency year in year out, since like all vegetable produce quality varies year in year out.
It may be just personal,...Also although I find a paper bag, supposedly from a micro roastery, very romantic, I must say that a multy layer plastic bag is a superior technological approach : first cause of staleness is oxydation and that is easily avoided keeping oxygen out....Just one advice : do not buy bags bigger than 250 grams and if you have to buy bigger, say 1 Kilo, once opened split in four-five and freeze except the one in use, because here it is true that you should not keep a bag open more than two weeks
In other words just let your mouth tell you what you like and do not be afraid of buying "industrial" coffee that is properly packaged, even if it says : best before...
Ciao, Pietro
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,877
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Mon May 21, 2012, 3:24pm
Subject: Re: My entrance in to the coffee world.
 

cappuccinoboy Said:

and do not be afraid of buying "industrial" coffee that is properly packaged, even if it says : best before...
Ciao, Pietro

Posted May 21, 2012 link

or NOT.
Pietro, please knock off the "American friends" thing.
The concept of a freshness date is just as relevant across the pond as it is here.

There is NO WAY 3 month old coffee in a "sealed" bag will produce the equivalent crema, flavor subtleties and such than will espresso roasted coffee enjoyed 5 days to 2 weeks after the roast date.

This is not to say 4 week old coffee, stored in a one way valved bag won't be tasty, but it WILL NO produce the same type of shot as it did 2 weeks earlier.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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sherpakid
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Mar 2006
Posts: 111
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Silvano
Grinder: Baratza Vario, Virtuoso
Drip: Chemex, Aeropress, Clever...
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Tue May 22, 2012, 10:51am
Subject: Re: My entrance in to the coffee world.
 

IMAWriter Said:

There is NO WAY 3 month old coffee in a "sealed" bag will produce the equivalent crema, flavor subtleties and such than will espresso roasted coffee enjoyed 5 days to 2 weeks after the roast date.

Posted May 21, 2012 link

+1

A simple test would be to buy some Illy's coffee and brew it alongside your favorite freshly roasted coffee. With the Illy's, notice the lack of bloom if it's drip and the lack of crema if it's espresso. Then notice the lack of taste in Illy's. The difference is striking.

The best technology for drinking fresh coffee is actually quite simple and requires very little science. It's consumption within ~2weeks after roasting.

 
www.prohibitionspecialtycoffee.com
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CaffeineFiend
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CaffeineFiend
Joined: 30 Nov 2011
Posts: 55
Location: Wyckoff, NJ
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Silvano
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Redbird Coffee Co.
Posted Fri May 25, 2012, 4:13pm
Subject: Re: My entrance in to the coffee world.
 

Welcome to the coffee world my friend: buy fresh beans from a good roaster.  So far i've tried coffeeam.com (aweful and burnt), Sweet Maria's Liquid Amber (Arrived 10 days after roast which is absurd in my opinion: but the crema was still ridiculous--half the shot would be crema), Chris Coffee (their customer service is awesome and sent me samples of all their espresso roasts: some were better than others), and my personal favorite Redbird Coffee Co.  Redbird will sell you a 5 pound bag for about 50 bucks with shipping included and I freeze this and it will last about 4-6 weeks.  He also bribes you to order more with a handful of chocolates (Very clever Jeff).  They roast the day it ships and it arrives a few days later.  

Roasted coffee which is past it's prime will not necessarily taste bad---it will just taste less.  Many of those flavors which are brought out using different grind, temperature, and extraction time will disappear as the coffee begins to "stale".  Stale coffees begin to taste the same to a point--although the roast profile tends to make a difference despite freshness.  Personally: I believe that each coffee has a different "peak" day: and I enjoy the transition from straight from the roaster--to the coffee flavors toward the end of the week.  If you're buying in bulk freezing works fine for me: make sure to bag about a weeks worth of beans or less--I use sandwich baggies and then put them all into a freezer bag.  I pull out a bag as I need and allow it to defrost for about half an hour before cracking it open.  

Personally I don't measure the coffee: I feel as though as much as I enjoy the end product I just don't feel the need.  I use a baratza preciso and although many will shake their heads I use the timer knob.  After a few grinds of a new coffee I get the hang of how far to turn it before getting the right amount of coffee.  I use the grind container: the portafilter holster just makes a mess IMHO.  I pour coffee to the top of the basket, then use the corner of the container i'm pouring out of to make a crater in the coffee (like you do with mashed potatoes for the gravy) and pour more coffee into the crater.  I do this probably once or twice before allowing the coffee to loosely mound over the basket rim.  I then use a finger to smooth out and push the center coffee towards the outer rim.  Once smoothed out I tamp twice--once heavy, once lightly--and I give the tamper a few quick spins afterwards--applying no pressure and polishing the grinds.  If there's excess coffee I pour it into my pre-ground morning coffee in a canister (i hate to waste).  

I won't touch on different grinds for different coffees--that seems to have been covered---what I will say is if you get a bad pull you can always just make it a cappuccino--tends to mask whatever bad flavors you get.  If it's bitter or sour it's not so noticeable with milk and sugar.  I like to froth my milk with a few scoops of sugar in it: and I feel like it prolongs the temperature increase allowing for a longer steam time.  But I will say one thing in terms of grinders: I would think you'd want your grinder to be able to grind fine enough to choke the machine: if you're pulling shots from grinds on the finest setting you may not be able to grind fine enough for all coffees.  

This site is an amazing tool for the budding barista: I'd be lost without it.  Since my coffees keep getting better and my questions are always answered by these pros I too like to post my experiences for other newbies to encourage them not to get frustrated and keep asking questions.  I was so excited for my machine to arrive and when it did I thought to myself "wtf do I do now".  I just pulled some shots--I started with only cappuccinos and weened my way into espresso.  At first I couldn't get my shots just right--but heating the cup with a blank shot of hot water and stirring sugar with a heated spoon (now a hand carved wooden spoon) made all the difference.  

I'll leave with this: if you've been pulling shots with stale coffee: find a local roaster and buy a pound to test it out.  When you notice the difference you'll never pull shots from coffee that isn't fresh again: after all you already spent the money: might as well reap the full benefits.

 
"Coffee should be black as Hell, strong as Death, and as sweet as Love."
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cappuccinoboy
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Jun 2009
Posts: 798
Location: MILANO
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Milano pod, Milano fully...
Grinder: grind on demand
Posted Sat May 26, 2012, 2:17pm
Subject: Re: My entrance in to the coffee world.
 

IMAWriter Said:

or NOT.
Pietro, please knock off the "American friends" thing.
The concept of a freshness date is just as relevant across the pond as it is here.

There is NO WAY 3 month old coffee in a "sealed" bag will produce the equivalent crema, flavor subtleties and such than will espresso roasted coffee enjoyed 5 days to 2 weeks after the roast date.

This is not to say 4 week old coffee, stored in a one way valved bag won't be tasty, but it WILL NO produce the same type of shot as it did 2 weeks earlier.

Posted May 21, 2012 link

Rob, sorry for late answer, but I was on a 4 days trip and could not read yr post
Why should I knock off that "American friends thing" I do not understand, because geeks' obsession for freshness I consider positive in the (personal) search of perfect cup, and that you geeks tend to ignore or simply aknowledge that industrial packaging DOES work is just plain reality.
Now I do not argue that freshly roasted coffee gives the best espresso (or at least it can give), but there is nothing wrong with industrial coffeee (quality selected and properly packaged), and I would not unload that on a new comer into this world, and my advice would always be the same:
learn to use whatever machine you have,
get the most out of it with the utmost consistency and with the (one) type of coffee that you like,
ONLY when you achieve consistency you can try with different coffees,
and ONLY after you achieve consistency with different coffees you can consider upgrading.
Since pleasure is a very personal matter not necessarily what you like best is what everybody likes best, and anyway stating that not bearing roast date equals to stale coffee is just false and misleading...(although often true)
Ciao, Pietro
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