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jwark
Senior Member
jwark
Joined: 29 Dec 2012
Posts: 42
Location: TX
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Le'Lit PL041TQE
Grinder: Le'Lit PL53
Posted Tue Jan 8, 2013, 10:09pm
Subject: Noob grinding questions - have a lelit pl53
 

So, I read on here how important the grinder was and I bought the lelit. It seems good, my shots are fine.

What is it that makes a good grind, though? It's not how fine it is, is it? Mine will go extremely fine but it seems it goes so fine that water will not even go through it. I have to make it course to get the water to even flow through the portafilter. Is it consistency? How can I tell if my grinder is doing that right exactly?

 
“It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.”  - Jack Handy
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acasabia
Senior Member
acasabia
Joined: 17 Oct 2008
Posts: 624
Location: Westchester, NY
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus iv-p,...
Grinder: Quamar M80e, Hario slim
Vac Pot: Yama Vacpot, Aeropress,
Drip: french press
Roaster: hot-air popper.
Posted Tue Jan 8, 2013, 11:14pm
Subject: Re: Noob grinding questions - have a lelit pl53
 

Search around here, Im sure you will find perhaps too much information on this.

In order to get genuine espresso you needs very few things. Namely, you need a machine capable of delivering consistently hot hot water at a pressure of 8-10bars, fresh (>2weeks) coffee, and a grinder capable of making the coffee fine enough to achieve the higher pressure and produce a 25 second shot. So here the grinder's importance becomes clear; it must provide a grind fine and consistent enough such that the grinds themselves are packed well after tamping to cause the machines pressure to rise to 8-10bars, while allowing enough water to pass through to produce 1-1.5oz in ~25 seconds.

Some tips:
  • Get your tamp down packed! (get it). Having a solid and consistent tamp will eliminate one variable from your shot pulling trouble shooting guide. A firm (~25lbs) tamp into a dry filter basket can make all the difference into a shots outcome. Some people chose to bump, others disagree -I have found my shots pull faster and at a lower pressure (4bar) when I bump, or if the PF was damp. Attempt to rotate the tamper on its axis around the edge of the filter basket to ensure an even pull.
  • Play with your dose. When I had a PL041 I used a leveled basket which came to about 16g of coffee. Depending on your coffee and your palate this may be wasteful to you, and sometimes pulling a 7g single is nice as well. That said, you need to play around with this variable a bit, and will have to adjust your grinder and tamp to accomodate the dose into the 25sec/9bar equation.
  • Get a bottomless PF. If there is anyway to see whats going wrong, this is the most stylish. Having a bottomless PF was the most helpful gift I had ever given myself. It enables errors in your grind or tamping method to be quickly diagnosed and makes dialing in a new grinder or coffee a snap.

The resources on this site are fantastic and Im sure you'll be pulling shots to be proud of soon!

Best,

 
Anthony C

Currently pulling: Whatever Sweet Maria's sends me :D
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,950
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 Wed Jan 9, 2013, 9:46am
Subject: Re: Noob grinding questions - have a lelit pl53
 

A little more direct answer to the question of
What is it that makes a good grind, though?
Consistency of grind. A good espresso grinder will grind to bimodal or trimodal. This is two or three different size but consistent grounds.
You need a grinder that is consistent and produces little if any fines, or dust. Dust will just clog things up while overextracting very quickly and giving a nasty taste.
In order to be consistent, a grinder needs very solid mounts for the burrs, plastic for the most part just will not be up to the job.

 
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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jwark
Senior Member
jwark
Joined: 29 Dec 2012
Posts: 42
Location: TX
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Le'Lit PL041TQE
Grinder: Le'Lit PL53
Posted Wed Jan 9, 2013, 4:52pm
Subject: Re: Noob grinding questions - have a lelit pl53
 

thanks. I don't see any dust. The shots I'm getting seem pretty good. They are sweet to the taste but sometimes have a little bit of bitterness to them. I can get it to where it pulls for 25-30 seconds and it doesn't blonde until then. Sometimes it is a little premature but not much.

I put a pretty fine grind on it but if I tamp it hard at all it clogs up and won't pull a shot and just backflushes if that makes sense. I'm not sure what the proper term is. But when I say it's fine I don't really know what fine is. I can see particles it is not like powder. I can make it like powder but it will not pull any water through at all when I do that.

 
“It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.”  - Jack Handy
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,226
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Wed Jan 9, 2013, 5:46pm
Subject: Re: Noob grinding questions - have a lelit pl53
 

contrary to advice above (not that it doesn't work for some), many of us here do not twist our tampers at all, at risk of fracturing the puck horizontally, which will promote chanelling.  You will definitely have to see what works best for you.  when you change things, try to do them one at a time, so you know what helps and what doesn't.  

Also, the grind fineness for a single and a double varies considerably enough to frustrate one who tries to go back and forth.  I simply don't do it.  It seems wasteful, but if I need a single, I pull a double and collect only from one spout.

I otherwise whole-heartedly agree with the advice in the prior posts.

before you tamp, you need a good reliable distribution technique that will get a very even density of grounds throughout your basket.  There are several ways to achieve this, a popular one being the WDT (Weiss Distribution Technique).  I don't use it, but there are many who swear by it.

The tamp is the least important part of preparing the puck for the group, but does play a role (IMO).  It should be consistent somewhere between about 20 and 50 pounds pressure.  You can practice with a bathroom scale.

From what it sounds to me, you're grind is too fine and you need to back off.  Either that or you're overdosing.  I highly recommend reading the "Easy Guide to Better Espresso at Home" on www.espressomyespresso.com  It's article 12, about midway down the right hand column, under "how to".

in short, you should have about 1-2mm space between your grounds surface and the shower screen when you engage the pf handle on the group to allow for coffee expansion.  the article referenced above describes how to use a nickel or dime to test this.

so, if you are dosing correctly, have decent distribution, tamp evenly and are still choking your machine (that's what you've described), then you need to coarsen the grind until you get the desired shot in the desired time (as mentioned above, typically shoot for about 1 - 1.5 oz in 25-30 sec for a single...for a double, double the volume but not the time - i.e., 2-3oz in 25-30 sec).

the naked/bottomless portafilter handle is a godsend (IMO).  I am convinced it's the easiest way to know when you have problems in preparing your dry puck, because when you do, the extraction will be uneven and/or you'll have sprites from one or more areas of the basket.  Besides helping you learn to prepare the basket better, it's just cool to watch a beautiful extraction!

If you don't have one, get a small scale that goes to 0.1g resolution for weighing your doses (and maybe your shots too).  They can be had for anywhere between $20 and $40, depending on source, brand and style.

once you get the extraction right, you can look at the grinds so you know how fine is "fine for espresso".

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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jwark
Senior Member
jwark
Joined: 29 Dec 2012
Posts: 42
Location: TX
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Le'Lit PL041TQE
Grinder: Le'Lit PL53
Posted Wed Jan 9, 2013, 7:33pm
Subject: Re: Noob grinding questions - have a lelit pl53
 

I don't really see channeling. I examined my puck. I'm not sure exactly what to look for but it looks completely uniform. I've found the fine line between it being choked and flowing I Feel like. I just don't know if finding that line is necessarily the perfect place to be, though. Maybe that line could be found with a finer grind and a softer tamp. So many variables!!! I'm having fun experimenting but I'd like to get to where I can make consistent shots for guests some time in the near future.

Yeah, I really noticed it's different when doing a single or double. I haven't even figured out exactly what a single or double is actually now that I think about it. I have two filters and I just use less grinds in one of them because it's smaller so I figure that is a single.

Yeah I distribute it evenly before I tamp. I feel like I have tamping down pretty well. I've watched many videos on it.

I bought a bottomless portafilter but realized it didn't come with a handle. Then, I thought I could use my other handle but it's glued on with loctite it looks like. Waiting on a handle now. I think you're right. I need that first to really see what is going on. Thanks for all the advice.

 
“It takes a big man to cry, but it takes a bigger man to laugh at that man.”  - Jack Handy
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,226
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Wed Jan 9, 2013, 7:46pm
Subject: Re: Noob grinding questions - have a lelit pl53
 

jwark Said:

I don't really see channeling. I examined my puck.

Posted January 9, 2013 link

better to examine the extraction as it's happening than the puck.  I've actually read more posts saying don't examine the puck, than do. but alas, you're still waiting on your handle.

jwark Said:

I'm not sure exactly what to look for but it looks completely uniform. I've found the fine line between it being choked and flowing I Feel like. I just don't know if finding that line is necessarily the perfect place to be, though. Maybe that line could be found with a finer grind and a softer tamp. So many variables!!! I'm having fun experimenting but I'd like to get to where I can make consistent shots for guests some time in the near future.

Posted January 9, 2013 link

don't worry, you'll get there soon.  don't change your tamp pressure, try to do it the same always, no matter what, adjust grind fineness and dose.  best to pinpoint your extraction by adjusting grind, then use dose modification to change the flavor profile of the shot (but that comes much, much later)

jwark Said:

Yeah, I really noticed it's different when doing a single or double. I haven't even figured out exactly what a single or double is actually now that I think about it. I have two filters and I just use less grinds in one of them because it's smaller so I figure that is a single.

Posted January 9, 2013 link

single, yeah, the smaller basket.  by italian standards 7g +/-0.5  double is double that.  in the us, many people say 7-9g for a single.  you'll find "doubles" ranging from 14g up to 22g

jwark Said:

I bought a bottomless portafilter but realized it didn't come with a handle. Then, I thought I could use my other handle but it's glued on with loctite it looks like. Waiting on a handle now. I think you're right. I need that first to really see what is going on. Thanks for all the advice.

Posted January 9, 2013 link

didn't know anyone sold them that way.  well, as soon as you get the handle, you'll be able to start using it, and that will help you a lot.

well...as I said above, don't worry, you'll get there soon.  You're doing the right thing reading a lot, watching videos and trying to understand the process as much as you can, and that will take you there as long as you only change one variable at a time and keep in mind what you did and by how much.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Frost
Senior Member
Frost
Joined: 26 Jul 2007
Posts: 2,105
Location: Sierra
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Isomac Venus
Grinder: Lelit PL53
Roaster: Poppery I w/variac, MET, BT
Posted Wed Jan 9, 2013, 10:29pm
Subject: Re: Noob grinding questions - have a lelit pl53
 

Get yourself a .1 gram scale and weigh your doses. (I load & weigh in the basket) This will improve the consistency of your pours and slow down the fiddling on the grind dial once you are dialed in. Changing dose by .5 gram will affect the flow and is very hard be this accurate without a scale.
Using the same blend I've been roasting, I move the grind dial at most within 1/2 a turn for weeks at a time on my PL53. Changing coffees will usually require more adjustment though. This little grinder has been very well behaved in this regard.
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