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Beginner Extractions
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branmuffin17
Senior Member
branmuffin17
Joined: 24 Sep 2013
Posts: 68
Location: Santa Ana, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Fri Oct 18, 2013, 2:35pm
Subject: Beginner Extractions
 

Hey John (jwoodyu),

Okay, here's what I've been experiencing so far (from Espresso Shrines post):

I ended up asking Wayne for some quick feedback, and like a newb, I found out I just wasn't pulling long enough to balance the bright with the bitter.  I think I was barely hitting 1 oz on a double basket by the time I manually stopped the extraction.  So I made a grinder adjustment (okay, a few), and dialed in for closer to a 2 oz shot in about 30 seconds from hitting the button (the machine has the preinfusion chamber, so pressure doesn't jump until around 6-8 seconds).  Weird thing is the pressure gauge isn't solid...it's slightly vibrating in maybe the 8 bar range, so maybe I need to grind a bit finer?  But that would be getting closer to the old grind setting, which was extracting slowly (2 oz in maybe 40-50 seconds).  So now I think it's pretty much practice and adjustment.  Taste is definitely better, but if I don't see consistent improvement, I'll see about providing some better info and maybe shooting vids or something from my phone and posting to YouTube.  In any case, here's where I'm at now, based on your list:

Type of Coffee:  Kean Coffee's Light Roast Espresso Blend

Roast Date:  a little over 1 week now (@ work, don't have the bag in front of me)

Temp:  Currently set at 94 degrees.  I'm pulling a blank with the PF in place about 1 min before extraction.  Wondering if I should raise temp a degree...

Weight of the dose:  aiming for 16.0 grams, give or take maybe 0.2 grams (not weighing every single time, but after distribution (just w/ my finger), it's pretty much always at the same volume in the basket.  I'm going to order a dissecting needle and try WDT sometime as an alternative.

Weight of the shot:  I bought a scale from Amazon, up to 1 kg, 0.1 g sensitivity, and I've calibrated it.  Now here's where I initially screwed up.  I don't remember where I read it (since I've been reading a LOT the past month), and I probably totally misinterpreted whatever it was, but I thought that whatever it was was saying that I wanted the weight of the dose to be about 50-60% of the weight of the shot.  When I was weighing the shot, I was aiming for 32-36 grams at the 25-30 second mark, and I was hitting maybe a bit above an oz.  Thought in the back of my head was "boy, that doesn't look like very much espresso..."  Guess I need to listen to intuition.

Basket type and size:  Using naked portafilter w/ double basket.

Gauges:  Per above, gauge when I was getting low flow was in the 9-10 bar range.  Latest has been reading (I think) in the 8 range, but hard to tell because the needle is vibrating.  Steam gauge is fine, and frothing about 5 oz of milk is crazy fast.  I think my microfoam is already top notch, but my pour and everything leaves something to be desired so far.

So yeah, any other suggestions for me to try are always appreciated.  Still trying to narrow down and hone in on my prep work, so best thing is probably to be as consistent as possible, right?
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jwoodyu
Senior Member
jwoodyu
Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 847
Location: Michigan
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Allex Duetto II
Grinder: Mazzer Major
Posted Fri Oct 18, 2013, 8:39pm
Subject: Re: Beginner Extractions
 

Sounds like your off to a great start. The machine has a Vibe pump so maybe your getting a little jiggle in the needle from the type of pump. Pump pressure like most things is according to you taste but sounds like your in the ball park. I would say try to get the does up to 18-20 grams which will mean adjusting the grinder again. Here is some good reading:

http://www.frcndigital.com/coffee/HowToEspresso.html
Click Here (www.home-barista.com)
Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

 
Yes i have a reason for leaving SCG off my list, yes it is my opinion, yes it is subjective as opinions are by definition, no don't start a flame war because you disagree.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,054
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sat Oct 19, 2013, 8:55am
Subject: Re: Beginner Extractions
 

+1 on the vibe pump

re: WDT.  I wouldn't bother unless you're trying to fix a distribution issue, such as channeling.  WDT is for breaking up clumps, and I don't see where it adds any other benefit.  If you do try it, you'll see that unless you have a very tiny caliber needle, it pushed mounds of fluffy grounds around the basket, making it very, very difficult to get an even distribution.  If you read how others use WDT, you'll probably notice that most use a dosing funnel or cut yogurt cup to prevent spiling grounds over the side while they stir, then do finger sweeps to distribute after removing the "round wall".

As you get things closer and closer to where you want them, you should shift focus towards making changes that improve the taste in the cup, rather than bringing measurements into specified ranges...it sounds like you know that, but I wanted to make sure.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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jwoodyu
Senior Member
jwoodyu
Joined: 31 Dec 2010
Posts: 847
Location: Michigan
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Allex Duetto II
Grinder: Mazzer Major
Posted Sat Oct 19, 2013, 12:46pm
Subject: Re: Beginner Extractions
 

emradguy Said:

As you get things closer and closer to where you want them, you should shift focus towards making changes that improve the taste in the cup, rather than bringing measurements into specified ranges

Posted October 19, 2013 link

That might be the single best piece of beginner advise yet. Get the knowledge, get the scales, get in the ball park then user your taste buds to fine tune it. You can't learn to play music by the "think system" and it is super tough to control all the variables in espresso without having a place to start and a way to measure. I think anything that helps including the WDT is fine but understand you won't always needed it. Once you start to get it one by one you will take off the training wheels because you don't need them any longer.

Personally if you have a half decent grinder and your grinding fine enough a good tamping stroke is all you need.

 
Yes i have a reason for leaving SCG off my list, yes it is my opinion, yes it is subjective as opinions are by definition, no don't start a flame war because you disagree.
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branmuffin17
Senior Member
branmuffin17
Joined: 24 Sep 2013
Posts: 68
Location: Santa Ana, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Sat Oct 19, 2013, 12:48pm
Subject: Re: Beginner Extractions
 

Hmmm...okay, I don't think I'm really seeing channeling.  Will hold off on WDT.

But now I'm going to say that I know crap.  I just burned through half a pound of my Kean beans.  Decided I would see what would happen if I followed Jim's guide on adjusting dose & grind by taste (click here).  Boy did that start something.

Maybe I should rewind a bit.  Think most of it has to do with my grinder/settings, so let me know if I'm on to something.  I bought a buyer's remorse Vario from Chris' Coffee.  I called them on the phone first, and they said the guy that returned it used it 2 times.  So I got it, and in the instruction booklet, the calibration instructions say that moving the macro to the finest setting, with the micro at coarsest, should not make the motor slow down.  Well, it did...so I verified first that I could try adjusting backward by unscrewing...which did nothing.  Anyway, in the book, it says that it really should be at macro setting 1 (finest) and micro setting half way before the motor starts slowing down, and that's where to start adjusting grind.  So I figured I would find that point for MY grinder, which was macro 2 and micro about halfway.  That's the general area I've been using for all of the grinds prior to today's experiments.

So, per Jim's guide, I started with 12 grams of grinds, and aimed for 20-25 gram extraction in 30 seconds.  Wow was I off.  Probably got 25 grams in 15 seconds.  I think my previous shots were only okay because I ended up aiming for 2 oz of liquid (not total volume), and the sour/bright notes were balanced by the longer extraction that got the bitter.

Long story short on trying to adjust, my grinder ended up at macro 1, about half way on micro.  I didn't follow Jim's guide on the other end (finding coarsest setting using 16 grams for 20-25 grams in 30 sec), but time looks better.  My last pull before I stopped was a bit under 2 oz of liquid (a bit over w/ crema) and was still a bit sour.  Here's where I'm confused...I've basically gone up a full step in macro setting, and getting similar extraction time, similar taste balance (sour vs. balanced vs. bitter at the same liquid volume), etc.  I will say that, at least based on the last grind setting before I stopped (didn't want to run out of coffee!!!), I'm getting the same overall volume of grinds, and always what I think is a good amount of crema, with tiger striping during the first 20 or so seconds of extraction.

I have no clue what I'm doing!  Maybe part of this is the burrs getting broken in.  Maybe my grinder has issues (based on my calibration experience).  Probably it's just all me.

One other thing...Kean's roast is considered a light roast.  I'm thinking a different bean (maybe like Klatch's Belle?) might be more to my taste as well, but not being able to dial anything in means I have no clue what taste I can really get from any of these beans.

Think I need to get Wayne to come over...wish he lived next door =)
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,023
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Oct 19, 2013, 12:59pm
Subject: Re: Beginner Extractions
 

Ok

  1. First thing, watch the video on their website and adjust your vario with the tool.
  2. Get 5 lbs of one kind coffee, 2 is ok but 5 is better to start with.  I know I sound crazy but trust me, if you don't have enough to enjoy after you waste a lot dialing it in for the first time, you will spend all your time dialing in the 12 oz bags.  Non stop dialing in is no fun and discouraging and you don't have enough to really experiment with.  By keeping the beans the same you can see what the different volumes, doses and grinder settings are doing for you.  (I suggest medium roasts to start with - middle of the road is best in my opinion.  Later you can try light and dark roasts)
  3. RELAX.  Pull shots, observe, sip, enjoy, pull more shots repeat.  You learn by doing.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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branmuffin17
Senior Member
branmuffin17
Joined: 24 Sep 2013
Posts: 68
Location: Santa Ana, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Sat Oct 19, 2013, 1:14pm
Subject: Re: Beginner Extractions
 

Oh hahaha, and one other thing...probably doesn't help that I'm having to go back and forth for making capps, because my wife needs decaf right now, so using Kean's decaf light espresso roast for her...(but when I'm playing with adjustments, it's all on the regular).

Thanks for the feedback, Coffeenoobie.  Quick thing on the adjustment...when I'm talking about calibration, the adjustment with the tool is what I'm talking about...and that's where I'm wondering if something's maybe wrong.  From 1 macro adjustment (micro coarsest, macro at 2 to 1), the motor very clearly slows down a bit (doesn't happen anywhere along the macro side from 10 to 2).  From the Vario book, it says I should only hear something when macro is at 1, and micro is pushed about halfway to finest setting.  So realistically, I'm about .75 settings away from where the book says I'm supposed to be (macro at 2, micro about 3/4 to the finest setting).  If I try to dial it back (screw in the opposite direction), the screw just gets looser and looser...no change in sound.

Yeah, need to get more coffee and just continually play with it until I start getting a better feel and taste for the whole process.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Sat Oct 19, 2013, 3:41pm
Subject: Re: Beginner Extractions
 

Your doing fine, it can take a little while to understand what you are doing. I can't help with the grinder, I have never Used one of those.
I know Kean describes the roast as "light" but it really is about a city +, so perhaps next to Starbucks, it is light, to most here, it is " normal" . :-)

Don't worry about a slight vibration on the gauge.

Enjoy the process! There will be days that you can do no wrong then the next day it has all gone to heck LOL!
You will get it, your off to a great start with quality equipment :-)

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,023
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Oct 19, 2013, 6:16pm
Subject: Re: Beginner Extractions
 

watch the video it makes sense when you see and hear it.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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branmuffin17
Senior Member
branmuffin17
Joined: 24 Sep 2013
Posts: 68
Location: Santa Ana, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Sun Oct 20, 2013, 2:05am
Subject: Re: Beginner Extractions
 

Oh THAT video...didn't see it was in the troubleshooting section until now.  Got it, and thanks.  That definitely makes it a lot clearer!  Didn't know they were looking for the motor pitch to drop that much...I think that's pretty much where my grinder is now, but will see tomorrow (er, today).
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