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Is it really this easy?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Is it really...  
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RVDave
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Oct 2012
Posts: 16
Location: Chicago
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 12:08pm
Subject: Is it really this easy?
 

A week ago I received my Pasquini Pivietta T2 & Baratza Vario, my first foray into a semi automatic machine and real grinder.  The first shot of espresso I pulled was..... really damn good!  I picked up a bag of Intelligentsia Fruit Bat espresso (roasted the day prior) and picked a random grind setting on the Vario, and used the preset 10 second grind.  The pushed down moderately hard with the tamper and pulled a shot. It tasted exactly as good as it does in Italy. I've played around a bit with grind size and tamp pressure, but the result is always great. So I wonder, as I read all these posts fretting about a few degrees of brew temperature, and minute differences in grind size, what am I missing?
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,278
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: CCD, Chemex
Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 12:19pm
Subject: Re: Is it really this easy?
 

Everything.

And nothing . . . there are varying degrees of "geekiness" when it comes to this little hobby/addiction of ours, and there is never anything more important than how it tastes to you!  

Someone else might taste your espresso and think it's awesome, or that person might think it sucked.  They have their taste buds inside their mouth, not yours.  So go forth and ENJOY!

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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xeonsamari
Senior Member
xeonsamari
Joined: 31 May 2011
Posts: 38
Location: Petrolia, ont
Expertise: Pro Barista

Espresso: bezzera Medea
Grinder: compak k3 touch
Drip: bunn Velocity
Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 12:40pm
Subject: Re: Is it really this easy?
 

If it tastes good enjoy it! Lucky shot on first try. One thing to remember is to develop a constant tamp pressure so all you have to do is adjust the grind minutely as it is required.
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 2,972
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 1:09pm
Subject: Re: Is it really this easy?
 

It can be, even I get lucky some times.  I found that my pickiness increased with my skill level.

 
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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frank828
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Feb 2011
Posts: 578
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: GS3
Grinder: RoburE, Kenia
Vac Pot: Hario
Drip: Brazen, CCD, Aeropress, V60,...
Roaster: Behmor, Air Crazy
Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 1:52pm
Subject: Re: Is it really this easy?
 

Fruit Bat is a good one to start with.  I really enjoyed the pound i went through a while back.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,468
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 Tue Oct 23, 2012, 2:06pm
Subject: Re: Is it really this easy?
 

Like Jason said, you are the only one who you need to impress.
Good equipment does help make it much easier as the equipment is more stable and consistent so you have less to "fuss" with but then again, this allows you to be more precise and then see what each change does.
So, yes and no LOL!

 
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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scanfield
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2011
Posts: 181
Location: Texas
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: La Nuovo Era Cuadra
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 3:34pm
Subject: Re: Is it really this easy?
 

My problem is that my palette sucks. I hear people describe all these subtle flavors in coffee (and wine, and beer, ...) and I can never pick these out. So I decided to go for the extremes with espresso.

I intentionally pulled a shot that was too cold. There was no doubt that the shot was sour. Let the machine heat up all the way, then pulled a shot without much of a cooling flush. The result was pretty bitter, but not as distinct as the sour shot. So now I could pick out the extremes. Over and under extraction along with grind size seems more subtle to me and I wouldn't be able to taste a shot and tell you if the extraction was off.

Do you have any trouble picking out bitterness or sourness in your espresso?
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RVDave
Senior Member


Joined: 10 Oct 2012
Posts: 16
Location: Chicago
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 3:47pm
Subject: Re: Is it really this easy?
 

Yes, I can definitely tell a good shot from a bad shot.  For example, the intelligentsia by me cannot pull a good shot, I have no idea why, It is always sour. I cook quite a bit and have a fairly refined palette for food and their subtleties. I got my espresso machine before the grinder and used my $50 Cusinart Grinder and the shots were also terrible.  The grinder simply wasn't fine or consistent enough.  However, the Baratza vario is perfect, and every shot I have pulled has been good, with some being slightly better than other.  I get that espresso is prone to "geekiness" but sometimes I think people go too overboard.
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frank828
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Feb 2011
Posts: 578
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: GS3
Grinder: RoburE, Kenia
Vac Pot: Hario
Drip: Brazen, CCD, Aeropress, V60,...
Roaster: Behmor, Air Crazy
Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 3:55pm
Subject: Re: Is it really this easy?
 

RVDave Said:

Yes, I can definitely tell a good shot from a bad shot.  For example, the intelligentsia by me cannot pull a good shot, I have no idea why, It is always sour.

Posted October 23, 2012 link

what kind of beans do you normally use/prefer?  Ive had a LOT of straight shots pulled by intelligentsia(in LA) and i dont really remember any of them having that comforting chocolate smoothness rather most have leaned more towards bright, probably perceived as sour.  It could just be that you dont like their style of coffee/roasting/blending/extraction.  Or maybe that intelli location is really bad...which seems unlikely.  who knows.
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 646
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 10:37pm
Subject: Re: Is it really this easy?
 

It's kind of funny you mentioned this...

I recall a few months ago, I pulled an 18 second shot with mildly stale beans and thought, "Wow, this is great." I think it was bordering on being "Illegal" in the eyes of the espresso police. :-)
Today, if I pulled that same shot, I'd probably consider it to be a bit weak, but drinkable.

I think espresso is certainly an acquired taste. I think it can take years for someone to start noticing all those little things that the hardcore coffee geeks keep talking about. It's kind of like
those wine drinker geeks who go to wine tasting events. Personally IMHO, I dislike the flavor of any kind of wine and think they're all nuts.

From other forum posts I've read, some coffee geeks like to mess with all kinds of variables because they can. :-) It all sounds quite complicated. I'm just grateful that I can make myself
a half decent cappuccino or latte in the morning and that it is better than whatever I can get out of a cafe!

I guess we're veering off topic a little, but I once saw a youtube video of one geek who was deliberately holding back the lever on his espresso machine to draw out the shot. It kind of made
me wonder at that point in time if he was even really making true espresso at all. At what point in time does an espresso just become drip coffee?

Personally, I think it is kind of neat to just get everything right within the guidelines... Like that 14 gram dose, 2 fl. oz @ 25 seconds... Then start messing with things to see how it affects the
shot. As we get higher end equipment that can produce much more consistency, they most likely want to change things up a bit and start experimenting. That's just the nature of the beast. :)
(BTW, I've been told that one should always stop the shot when they see blonding. It's kind of hard to notice when I'm not using a bottomless portafilter!)

Besides, I just thought I should mention... I've had straight shots served to me in Cafes that would be worthy of being sink shots in my kitchen. Recently, I asked for a Macchiato Espresso
and the darn thing tasted like liquid charcoal. I wasn't sure if they had burnt the beans, didn't do any cooling flush or overextracted the coffee all to heck, but it was downright disgusting.
I'm not the kind of guy to raise a ruckus over a $3 drink, but it was my guess the Barista didn't know what the heck they were doing. I can certainly say that they had the right equipment.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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