calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 6,849 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Veneziano A1 Grinder: Many different commercial Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Milita, Bunn&Curtis... Roaster: Cast iron pan, gas burner
Posted Tue Oct 15, 2013, 9:58am Subject: Re: How to improve my espresso
When tasting espresso, I will close my eyes and try to see how many different things I can taste in the brew. MOST of the time though, I simply drink and enjoy it, I don't need flowery words to enjoy the coffee!
Congrats on the shots, at first I thought there was a hole in the crema in the lower left but then saw it was a shadow over the whole corner of the pic. :D
In real life, my name is Wayne P.
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
CoffeeLoversMag Senior Member Joined: 10 Jan 2013 Posts: 179 Location: Seattle Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Thu Oct 17, 2013, 7:31am Subject: Re: How to improve my espresso
There are coffee shops that offer free demonstration on how to have the best espresso. Probably you can have some of their technique to try by yourself to improve your espresso. You can also make your own style and possibly discover your own technique to have a better espresso. It's a matter of testing, trying, and patience to improve your espresso.
Did you know...? Dark roast coffees actually have less caffeine than lighter roasts due to the fact that the process of roasting burns off caffeine. www.coffeeloversmag.com/theMagazine
tonini Senior Member Joined: 22 Jan 2013 Posts: 30 Location: GTA, Ontario, Canada Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Silvia V3 Grinder: HG One
Posted Fri Oct 18, 2013, 4:03pm Subject: Re: How to improve my espresso
Your on the right path. I got into espresso a year ago with a Silvia/Preciso combination. This website is great for feedback and ideas about what to do/try. It really comes down to a few things. First is you need great beans, no matter how good your grinder and machine are bad beans makes bad espresso. Second is a great grinder which you have! I did was looking at a k10 recently but decided against it for an HG One and it is mind blowing to me. Third thing to do is technique. You can argue 3 should be before 2 but really its something like that. At the end of the day if you have great coffee and a great grinder, for the most part the user is its worst enemy. We as the user have to be exact, observant but most importantly enjoy. Assuming you love coffee as much as the rest of us on this awesome forum, you will continue to see the awesomeness of your espresso progression.
boar_d_laze Senior Member Joined: 21 Nov 2006 Posts: 192 Location: Monrovia, CA Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: La Cimbali DT/1 Jr. Casa Grinder: La Cimbali Max Hybrid; and... Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker Drip: Chemex + Kone Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Sun Oct 20, 2013, 8:43am Subject: Re: How to improve my espresso
I had a Livia 90, which I bought in its first few months of production and kept for more than fifteen years. It was a decent machine in its time (as compared to similarly priced machines) but that time is somewhat past.
It's major weakness is temperature -- mostly in the sense that it tends to overheat very quickly and is difficult to control without lot of technique. Another weakness is its sensitivity to head space. Perhaps it's most annoying traits are (1) It's so very noisy; and (2) the drip tray is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too small.
While a grinder as good as the K-10 is going to improve the quality of the coffee the Livia can make, the Livia can't quite reciprocate -- It's nowhere near up to the K-10's quality and consistency and is the weak link in your new chain.
Any of the better E-61 HXs will represent a significant step up in nearly every respect. That said, there are a lot of espresso machine alternatives which would pair better with your new Compak than the Livia. While I haven't tried one yet, the new Pasquini Livia G4 looks as though it has all the right stuff and design upgrades -- especially thermal compensation.
Temping an HX machine isn't quite "temperature surfing," at least not in the way temping an SBDU. That is, you don't temp an HX by going past the ideal point than working your way back. There are a couple of things to consider when you think about this. The first is that, yes, it would be nice to have a machine which didn't require technique and attention to deliver precisely temped brew water.
The second though is far more important. That is, that the most important part of temping is determining the right temperature (aka "dialing in") for a given bean and grind; and that is entirely a matter of palate, not of equipment.
To temp the Livia 90 in particular, you flush until the sound of flash boiling ceases; stop the machine; start a new timed flush (count in your head) for a controlled period until you hit the right "dialed in" temp for your particular bean -- usually a matter of two to five seconds.
One of the nice things about the Livia 90 is that the location of the HX within the boiler makes for very fast recovery. You have to pull successive shots very fast indeed to get it to run too cold; and will more often find that banging them out as fast as you can go will give you good temps for most coffees.
You really want to consider getting together with someone who can show you some of the more sophisticated techniques to get the most out of machine and grinder; and/or taking a barista class.
For most people, the most powerful part of taking a class is not so much the techniques as teaching you to use your palate. I highly recommend Heather Perry's one day class, even though it's expensive. In the alternative, lots of coffee shops offer less expensive (and less intense) classes; including Intelligentsia Pasadena.
I'm in Monrovia and may be able to give you some pointers -- not only as to the Livia 90 in particular, but as to espresso in general. If you want to get together, let me know and we'll work out the details.
shnxx Senior Member Joined: 3 Jul 2009 Posts: 116 Location: Pasadena Expertise: Just starting
Posted Sun Oct 20, 2013, 10:33am Subject: Re: How to improve my espresso
Thanks for the suggestions. I guess I will upgrade once my palate is able to distinguish between the coffee I'm making and something better, which I'm guessing I can get from Intelligentsia and a couple of other cafes with the best equipment and baristas.
I would love to learn a few tricks from you in person. I will e-mail you.
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