Posted Sun Mar 31, 2013, 10:17am Subject: Re: I can't make a decent espresso - what am I doing wrong
Better coffee and lower the brew temperature. 204 is too hot in my experience. Lower it to what? Experiment and find out what works. And when shopping for coffee, pick up a big sack of patience. It takes time to get accustomed to a new machine, new grinder, and new coffee. Over 12 years along the path and I am still learning. Why, just this morning I found that if you hold the portafilter too near the edge when tamping, and you are still chasing Morpheus from your eyes, and your hands are slippery, and the dog walks by and distracts you for just a fraction of a second, you learn how well the vacuum cleaners picks finely ground coffee from the carpeting.
dspear99ca Senior Member Joined: 17 Jan 2013 Posts: 88 Location: BC, Canada Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Gaggia Coffee Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 2:13pm Subject: Re: I can't make a decent espresso - what am I doing wrong
I went through a lot of coffee beans when I got my new grinder, can only imagine doing a grinder and machine at the same time.
First off, checking the temperature has got to be the dead-simplest thing to check and eliminate as a variable. Get yourself a styrofoam cup and a digital instant-read thermometer. I found my grill thermometer works good for this purpose. Cut the styrofoam cup down so that it fits snugly into the group head where the portafilter locks in. Stab the thermometer probe through the cup near the top and angleit down so that the tip of the probe is near or at the bottom. Pre-heat cup and probe with boiling water from a kettle, noting the temp it reads for boiling water (should be 100C/212F, if it's off by a couple of degrees you'll need to make the same adjustment to your measurement). Dump the water, slap the cup into the group head and pull a "shot". Watch the thermometer and you'll have your temp, quite accurately.
MJJ Senior Member Joined: 2 Jan 2013 Posts: 37 Location: Montreal Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Rancilio Silvia PID Grinder: Baratza Vario Drip: Hario V60
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 4:48pm Subject: Re: I can't make a decent espresso-what am I doing wrong (Silvia and a Preciso)
Hi, Maybe somebody else already mentioned it (I didn't notice it yet) but if you get yourself an 18 gram portafilter basket you will probably enjoy your drinks more. For me that made a big difference, the stock Silvia double is considered a 14 gram basket. The 18 gram dose tastes deeper,richer and more full and seems easier to work with too. I purchased a VST basket but the non VST ones would be fine too if you don't want to spend the extra cash for the fancy VST version, someone else here could tell you what brand to buy (Synesso? or the new "Espresso Parts" baskets). Yes patience....and get that grind dialled in right, get it flowing slowly. Also, cutting the flow shorter can improve taste a lot, many fancy espresso bars are making shots that are 1 to 1.5 ounces (or say weighing 25 to 40 grams of liquid...yes, weighing the liquid!) the taste changes a lot! Good luck, you'll be very happy if you persist.
CarloM Senior Member Joined: 1 Apr 2013 Posts: 284 Location: Los Angeles Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Vetrano V2B Grinder: Mazzer Mini-E Type A, SJ... Drip: Toddy
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 6:12pm Subject: Re: I can't make a decent espresso - what am I doing wrong
Also be sure to check your grinder to see if that's the culprit. I owned a Preciso for several months, had it replaced by Baratza for "drifting grind settings" (where to get the same fineness I had to keep adjusting it finer and finer until I ran out of settings) and ultimately after a couple of replacements I just went with the Mazzer Mini E Type A and couldn't be happier. The grind from the Mazzer immediately improved my espresso, even compared to the best shots I could pull with the Preciso (all of them) when it wasn't defective. The fineness and consistency of the Mazzer grind is an order of magnitude ahead of the Baratza. When people say the grinder is more important than the machine, with this first-hand experience I had, I'm now inclined to believe them. I have a Silvia PID as well and I couldn't be happier with the espresso. The only reason I'm now thinking of upgrading the Silvia is because I make lattes and I want more powerful, dry steam to get microfoam, and I want to be able to make multiple drinks without waiting for temperature to reset between drinks, so I'm looking at double boilers...
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