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Espresso inconsistency - primarily a bit sour. Any suggestions?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Espresso...  
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Joel_B
Senior Member
Joel_B
Joined: 9 Oct 2007
Posts: 1,823
Location: Pacific NW
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astra Mega II
Grinder: Mazzer SJ, Virtuoso
Vac Pot: Yama 5 cup
Drip: nope, french press
Roaster: Behmor, WP, BBQ drum
Posted Sat Oct 6, 2012, 6:18am
Subject: Re: Espresso inconsistency - primarily a bit sour. Any suggestions?
 

An first off welcome aboard! Congrats on the new set up :-)

You've already been given some good direction but I'll throw my 2 cents out'. Well actually my advice is only good for 1 cent but you can keep the change lol.  Issue is temperature. As mentioned earlier just because the light came in doesn't mean its ready. Personally I'd leave the machine on for thirty minutes before messing with it.  This will allow it to become temp stable and make sure all the components are hot. You've beeen given some advice on temp surfing but one thing I want to add is you'll (Most likely) need to super heat the boiler.  The two entry level single boiler/dual purpose machines I've had (one being a Starbucks Batista which is the same as the Venezia) the top end of the boiler cycle isn't hot enough. This is two fold, as from my experience with the Barista is the boiler runs cool but also there's not enough temp stability with the small boiler and low mass so the temp drop through the shot is quite a bit.  You can super heat the boiler by waiting til its reached the top of the cycle and then hit the steam button to increase the Temp over the boiler cycles top end.  You've got some direction here too on reading the temp but you'll want to aim a little high because of the tempo drop.
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Fred1
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Sep 2004
Posts: 564
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: LaSpaziale S1 Mini Vivaldi...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini/NS MCF
Vac Pot: None
Drip: Chemex
Roaster: Hottop, FR+8
Posted Sat Oct 6, 2012, 9:57am
Subject: Re: Espresso inconsistency - primarily a bit sour. Any suggestions?
 

Sounds like your problem may be the beans,  Find a different bean to confirm that.

You don't need a $10K setup to make espresso.  The secret is consistancy.  With a less expensive setup, that is harder to achieve.  Just remember fresh beans, freshly ground will yeild the best results.

When you get to the point where you want to upgrade, do the grinder first.   Your current grinder is no better
than marginal for a pressurized pf.  Forget the Rocky, it's a marginal espresso grinder at best.


Good luck,

Fred
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ajellyb
Senior Member


Joined: 5 Oct 2012
Posts: 11
Location: Fremont, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Oct 6, 2012, 10:28am
Subject: Re: Espresso inconsistency - primarily a bit sour. Any suggestions?
 

@mradguy Yes, I should be able to get some good beans around here. I actually received a gift of about 6 months of beans with the espresso machine. So I'm slowly working through all the different beans I have. I just switched to the Black Cat.

I've been managing the temperature a bit better over the past 24 hours, and can see a small improvement in the taste. I'll keep trying and switch to a new type of bean and report back.

@joelb My plan is to try without adding the additional heat first. Once I get a feel for how the everything tastes without super heating I'll try out the steam button. I did just pull a shot this morning right at the hottest part of the cycle (after the light turns on) and it still was a bit sour.

@Fred1 Probably the biggest surprise for me so far from reading the forums is how important the grinder is. Everybody seems to say it's more important than the espresso machine, which is so interesting to me. What would you suggest as a "first upgrade" over the Bodum Bistro? Is there a good espresso grinder in the $300-$400 range that would be a nice step up as I get there?

Thanks!
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,036
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Oct 6, 2012, 11:09am
Subject: Re: Espresso inconsistency - primarily a bit sour. Any suggestions?
 

How important the grinder is was a shock to me as well.  They say around here a good barista can make a good shot on a cheap pump machine with a good grinder but not with a 3+k machine and a bad grinder.  This was very hard for me to understand till I got a better grinder.  It really is night and day. When you start the grinder is often more expensive than the starter machine.  This was another shocker to me.

New at the low end is http://www.baratza.com/baratza-grinder-information/  Ones to get Preciso and Vario. I have the Vario W.  They sell refurbished on tues or thursdays I forget.  They are often 100$ cheaper and the customer service from Baratza is the best I have ever had for any company on any product - ever.  I am not kidding.

Almost all other cheap grinders have too many steps in changing the grind or not consistent enough to give you the grinds you want. (steps means settings to go finer or courser)  Some have so many steps/settings they are practically stepless like the preciso and Vario and some are truly stepless and they are normally commercial.  Used you can get commercial grinders - pros they often run forever in home use and cons they are huge and you will probably need to change out the blades first thing. (add $50-60 to the price in your mind)  I would not buy a used commercial grinder over 350$ unless it was exceptional.  Better deal is 300$ and below.  They are harder to find like that but if you watch when coffee shops close and list stuff on Craigslist you can get lucky.  Normally they are beat up if you can find them cheap, doesn't hurt the grind but could affect spousal approval.

 
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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Joel_B
Senior Member
Joel_B
Joined: 9 Oct 2007
Posts: 1,823
Location: Pacific NW
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Astra Mega II
Grinder: Mazzer SJ, Virtuoso
Vac Pot: Yama 5 cup
Drip: nope, french press
Roaster: Behmor, WP, BBQ drum
Posted Sat Oct 6, 2012, 11:29am
Subject: Re: Espresso inconsistency - primarily a bit sour. Any suggestions?
 

ajellyb Said:

@joelb My plan is to try without adding the additional heat first. Once I get a feel for how the everything tastes without super heating I'll try out the steam button. I did just pull a shot this morning right at the hottest part of the cycle (after the light turns on) and it still was a bit sour.

@Fred1 Probably the biggest surprise for me so far from reading the forums is how important the grinder is. Everybody seems to say it's more important than the espresso machine, which is so interesting to me. What would you suggest as a "first upgrade" over the Bodum Bistro? Is there a good espresso grinder in the $300-$400 range that would be a nice step up as I get there?

Thanks!

Posted October 6, 2012 link

Oh absolutely try within the native boiler cycle first. But if it isn't high enuf (and I suspect it won't be) you can super heat the boiler with the steam switch. Sounds like you're going thru things systematically which is good.

Grinder really is that important. If you upgrade to a capable grinder you can buy a regular pf or even depressurize your pf. You'll be on the way to decent espresso for sure. Coffee noob has the link for you. A baratza preciso or various would be fine choices in that range.
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