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Inherited Faema Family -- Very Short Pull Cycle
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jmart
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Joined: 24 Mar 2013
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Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Mar 24, 2013, 12:27pm
Subject: Inherited Faema Family -- Very Short Pull Cycle
 

Hi there,

I recently inherited a 2nd generation Faema Family Machine (aluminum boiler, front slide for steam). It's a should be a step up from our previous cheapo stovetop espresso maker. Now as far as I can tell, all the mechanics are in order, but the extraction phase seems really fast. Like 2 or 3 seconds fast.

The resulting shots are almost completely lacking in crema. I've tinkered with different grind fineness, different beans, and really packing the grounds in the portafilter, but to no avail. I'm going to do a citric acid decalc this afternoon, but as I was having a poke around with the back cover off, I noticed what seems like it could be a burned out sensor of some kind. (See photo.)

I'm curious to know if anyone has any suggestions about this sensor or how to improve the quality I'm getting from what I've read is supposed to be a prety decent machine.

Thanks,
jmart

jmart: faemainnards.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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atsamattau
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atsamattau
Joined: 20 Mar 2013
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Location: SoCal
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Posted Sun Mar 24, 2013, 2:30pm
Subject: Re: Inherited Faema Family -- Very Short Pull Cycle
 

I cant be positive just from a picture, but from the picture of the heating group found in the info I found on line I believe you are looking at a heating element electrical connection. It may be the secondary (for steam) or it may be the primary and the faulty connection could be causing too low of a brew temperature, more than likely it is unrelated to your issue with crema. Get a thermometer (a meat thermometer should work fine) and check the temp of your espresso as it comes out, it should be around 84 C as it exits the portafilter, but anywhere above 75 C would indicate that the water temp is OK. If not try to measure the cake as soon as you remove it from the machine, it should get close to 85 C or 185 F at the most, although it may be as low as 165 F by the time you measure it.

I would replace the connector anyway, it looks like it is getting hot and posibly arcing, but it is probably unrelated to the crema issue. Of course descaling would be a good idea also.

Crema is an illusive beast, and difficult to produce at all let alone consistantly. You must have very good, and freshly roasted coffee ground fresh and exactly the right fineness. Too fine and the water creates channels through the cake. Too coarse and the water blows right through. The best way to determine what is going on is with a second timer, and of course a bottomless portafilter allows you too make sure the coffee is coming out of the basket evenly. Time your shots, the water should be starting to come out at around 3-6 seconds and a double shot should finish up in under 30 seconds.

I am no expert and I strugglie with the same issue with crema, but I think you are looking at a heater coil connection. Good luck.
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emradguy
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emradguy
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Posted Sun Mar 24, 2013, 3:11pm
Subject: Re: Inherited Faema Family -- Very Short Pull Cycle
 

Given you've never made espresso before, I'd hesitate blaming the machine. Read article 12 under how to on www.espressomyespresso.com - Easy guide to better espresso at home. As mentioned above it is possible the brew temp is off and there are some relatively reliable methods of checking that without taking your machine apart. If learning how to prepare a shot doesn't work and your brew temp is right, then you need to do some troubleshooting.

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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jmart
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Joined: 24 Mar 2013
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Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Mar 24, 2013, 3:26pm
Subject: Re: Inherited Faema Family -- Very Short Pull Cycle
 

Hi there emradguy and atsamattau, thanks so much for your responses.

First off, I should mention that I have pulled shots before. I used to work at a family-run Italian restaurant and had good success with my coffees there (even with their beans bought in giant bags roasted who knows how many months ago). So I'm not entirely an espresso newbie.

I did a temp check and the water isn't getting nearly hot enough. It's only about 55 degrees C when through the portafilter! Clearly there's an issue there. Obviously, that will have an effect on the end result. I'm in the midst of searching out to see if I can order a part anywhere. Cafeparts.com hasn't been too helpful yet. Any other parts suggestions? Canada / North America preferred.

What I'm next trying to figure out is why the shots are coming through so fast. We're talking 5 seconds to fill 4 oz.  Is this likely a separate issue from the low temperature? Or is the temperature connected to the low viscosity and that might contribute to the quick pulls? I've tried different finenesses of grind (I'm using the matching Faema Family burr grinder which has pretty precise grind control. That hasn't seemed to help. Tamping pressure hasn't helped too much, either. Barring problems with my grind, is there anything else that might contribute to this super speedy shot?

jmart
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emradguy
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emradguy
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Posted Sun Mar 24, 2013, 4:26pm
Subject: Re: Inherited Faema Family -- Very Short Pull Cycle
 

Ah, sorry for jumping the gun there...low temp can definitely cause gushers, even with proper grind, distribution and tamp.

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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jmart
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Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Mar 24, 2013, 6:29pm
Subject: Re: Inherited Faema Family -- Very Short Pull Cycle
 

Well I'm glad to head that low temp may be the single source of my problems. Does anyone have recommendations on next steps? Two rounds of descale didn't help. Water temp is still only around 50 degrees C. Parts aren't too easy to find online, so any tips would be a big help!
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
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Posted Sun Mar 24, 2013, 7:20pm
Subject: Re: Inherited Faema Family -- Very Short Pull Cycle
 

Wish I could help more, but it's a bit over my head to troubleshoot temp problems. There are several guys here who work on machines regularly and some who've just been down this road, so I'm sure you'll get some good advice soon. The reason I know how ow temp affects a shot is when I had my Silvias, I had a couple incidents if the sFety vrsaker shutting off the heating element in the boiler... no heat = gusher shot!l

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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alanfrew
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alanfrew
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 643
Location: Melbourne
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Posted Mon Mar 25, 2013, 12:16am
Subject: Re: Inherited Faema Family -- Very Short Pull Cycle
 

I have to say that those innards don't look like any Faema Family I've ever worked on. Admittedly, the last one was over 5 years ago but the boiler was brass and the element was bolted in. Thermostats, including a proper resettable, were on top of the boiler. Looking at the picture you have 2 possibilities

1) Bad brew thermostat (presumably hiding down one side of the boiler.) There should be a light on the machine which tells you when you're up to temp. If this light is operating (i.e. turning on and off) then you need to replace the brew thermostat.

2) Dud element. Does the machine heat up for steam? If not, the element is cactus. Strip the machine for parts and dump the remains, the element is brazed into the boiler.

Alan
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jmart
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Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 7
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Mar 26, 2013, 10:23am
Subject: Re: Inherited Faema Family -- Very Short Pull Cycle
 

Hi alanfrew,

Thanks for your reply.

1) The light on the machine that tells me when its up to temp does indeed switch on and off.

2) The machine does get hot enough to make steam. It came with one of those "automatic" milk frothers instead of a more traditonal wand. It doesn't make great foam, but it does definitely heat up the milk. Lacking a proper steam wand, it's tough for me to compare against other steamers, but it appears it works. The steam doesn't last for very long. I can say that for sure.

Based on that troubleshooting you helped me with, I phoned a couple of shops here in Vancouver to ask is they might have a replacement brew thermostat for me. I'm waiting to hear back now.
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jmart
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Joined: 24 Mar 2013
Posts: 7
Location: Vancouver, BC
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Mar 26, 2013, 8:05pm
Subject: Re: Inherited Faema Family -- Very Short Pull Cycle
 

Hi all,

A little update: after striking out finding a new thermostat with the espresso maintenance shops here in Vancouver, I checked out an electronics supply shop and they had a 100 Celsuis thermostat that fit perfectly. I installed that, but ... water coming out of the group is still only around 50 - 60 Celsius.

Any suggestions or is it time I throw in the towel? Oh and here are a few shots I grabbed with my phone when I had it apart.

jmart
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