Posted Wed Oct 19, 2011, 10:31am Subject: Re: Too many choices!
Well thank you very much for your replies. It is most helpful. When roasting on my HotTop, and using a new bean every couple of pounds, you get a variety of roasts. This past Costa Rican I took a bit further thinking that it would give it a different taste for espresso. Well it certainly did! I was unable to get a good shot! With Guatamalan taken to where I normally do, just at the start of second crack with 4 minutes between first and second pours much better. Of course with a Bunn it makes no difference, really. Both are quite drinkable. The Guatamalan , in fact , even is acceptable with less than a perfect pour, a little squirt or 2 and uneven at the end of extraction. Still the espresso tasted OK, better than many I have had in coffee shops. The Costa Rican , on the other hand would have been terrible, a sink shot.
As you already know (or are learning) not only is roasting an even more complex art than brewing, but S.O roasting/brewing/pairing is even more a chore. There's a reason blends exist, after all. But S.O. espressos...that takes a careful examination of the bean properties, often of a specific crop, to determine whether it would work well as espresso. Take the Costa Rican for example. Your batch seems like it was too acidic to make reasonable espresso, yet one of my favorite S.O. experiments was a Costa Rican lot offered specifically as an S.O. espresso about a year ago from Ritual. It had a great strong lemon quality to it. It also loved being burned at the higher temps I could throw at it. The Guatamalan I tried about 10 months ago from Klatch made for AWFUL espresso no matter what. What a difference a dry harvest makes! I definitely think your major experiment is in roasting, here, not so much in brewing :) (Paradise is a fun roaster in the US since they sell their blends as green as well so you can buy a bag green and a bag roasted and see if you can match their roasting skill. I'm not sure if there's anyone in CA that does that or not.)
So although my technique is far from perfect I think, after reading your comments that 1. The bean has made the most difference (Roast and Bean) 2. The grinder should be my next upgrade. Which means that a Mahlkonig at $2000. 00 should be the next purchase 3. Then consider a spring lever for the next machine or just wait and save for a GS/3.
Generally it sounds reasonable, though what made you choose a Mahlkonig out of the gates? It's a fantastic timed grinder, but you indicated that you like single dosing (weighed dosing) and generally there's a selection of dosered grinders that tend to be preferred for that usage (Disclaimer: There will be a few K30 owners that will insist "I pseudo single dose with my K30 and it's fine!". That is true, but it's not it's PRIMARY strength, where there are other grinders that are more known for their strength in single dosing. I have a K10 (doser) and a K8 Fresh (Compak's response to the K30 in a sense), and I like them both. But I don't want to think about single dosing with my K8...and it works so beautifully in the K10 :) ) I'm not saying that the Mahlkonig is a poor choice, I just wanted to make sure you weighed all the comparison points. (Eric, Jack, no, I'm NOT bashing the K30, it's a great grinder! Just figured I'd say that pre-emptively :) )
Sound reasonable? I would like to see what a spring lever like the Bosco, Izzo, or Bezzera Strega would produce.
Since you're familiar with pump-driven E61 machines you definitely will want to try out a lever before buying one if you can. Lever is...different. In some ways it's more forgiving in terms of grind etc. In other ways it's more complicated given the pressure variations you can create. And the result is generally different than pump (despite that the E61 was designed, originally, to mimic levers.) Neither is better or worse, they're just different beasts. And it's not so much a question of "or save for a GS/3". It's really a different thing entirely. GS/3 is just a well designed and featureful satuarated group espresso machine. Levers are levers. Both pull espresso shots and heat water in a boiler. That's about all they have in common :)
The Giotto is a good machine and after a thorough descale and repair works well, I think. I really do not know whether the pressure profile is OK as I would need a Scace device. The brew temp is measured with a thermometer in the group. BTW the Costa Rican liked the temp more around 202 degrees . Normally I bring the temp down a little lower to 200. Even the Guatamalan likes 202, so I have changed my flushing protocol. I do leave the Giotto on 24/7 now as I brew up to 3 times a day. Warming it up 3 times in a day makes no sense to me.
I'm not sure pressure profiling is what you're looking for since on the (presumably vibe pump) Giotto, it has a relatively fixed profile. The group and the ramp-up of the pump (and expansion chamber) have a pretty fixed pressure profile based on the OPV (or pump pressure if it's rotary.) Pressure profiles tend to come into real play where you can CHANGE the pressure, such as levers, variable speed rotary pumps, various expansion valve assemblies (other than E61's built in chamber), etc. Scace makes both a temperature profiling device, and a pressure profiling device.
You are right that I have upgraditis. Now I just need to win a lottery.
Upgrading is always fun. Getting your bank statement usually isn't ;)
I meant was your preference of the K30 vs Doge based on your preference of the "darker" "flat burr" flavor profile over the "brighter" "conical burr" flavor profile, or was it based on the method of operation of the machine?
Posted Fri Oct 21, 2011, 8:28am Subject: Re: Too many choices!
Well I have taken your advice. I decided that if I am to upgrade it will be the grinder. I ordered a Versalab m3 today. There are so many quality grinders, flat burr , conical and the Versalab. I mostly make one to three shots at a time so the speed is of no importance. I would like a fluffy grind that distributes well into the portafilter and leaves little behind to get stale.
In the future I might just opt for a machine like the La Spaziale which is a volumetric machine with good temp stability and reliability rather than spending the big $ on something that I may not appreciate. From your responses it seems as though many machines are capable of producing exceptional espresso albeit with different flavours, body and clarity. That then becomes more personal preference.
Thank you for all of your excellent input. Right now I can pull a very decent shot with my setup albeit I usually pull 2-3 shots of which one is not right. I will work on my barista skills and I do believe that the grinder will help in that regard. I will continue to weigh the beans for precise dosing. The grind should be more precise and the distribution which is most difficult for me should be easier. Using a triple basket in a naked portafilter I am dosing 17 gm. so it is more difficult to distribute. The grinds do not overflow the basket so that NSEW distribution , which I would normally use with a double basket is not possible. I therefore just tap to distribute. Works for me but not always. My shots taste OK and some are excellent.
So rather than buy another machine to improve my shots I went ahead and upgraded my grinder and will keep and work with my Giotto.
Posted Sat Oct 22, 2011, 12:39pm Subject: Re: Too many choices!
I happen to have the triple basket and when I dose to the top I have more difficulty getting a decent shot. I need to adjust the grind. With my grind setting I get a more consistent shot although the puck is sloppy as I would expect with a 1/2 filled basket.
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