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Finally on a roll.... 10 shots- no sink shots...but what about pressure?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Finally on a...  
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DeanOK
Senior Member
DeanOK
Joined: 24 Sep 2012
Posts: 649
Location: OK
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Vario W
Posted Sat May 18, 2013, 9:03pm
Subject: Finally on a roll.... 10 shots- no sink shots...but what about pressure?
 

I have been reporting here for months that I was having issues getting decent shots from my CC1. Since my purchase in Oct of 2012 I have struggled with making decent shots and I think it is fair to say that over half of the shots were poured down the drain. Many others I drank a few sips out of the cup and didn't even finish. Yes, I have had a few along the way that I thought were decent, but they were far and few between.

After exhausting every option I could think of, I decided to check the brew pressure on my CC1. Found the brew pressure very low. I have no idea if it has always been low but I decided to descale the machine one more time before sending it in for service. To my surprise, even though  I had descaled twice before over the months since Oct, the descaling greatly improved my brew pressure. Pressure increased from the 5 bar range to the 8.5 bar range. This last descaling was very thorough and I used 64 oz of descale solution instead of 32 oz like before. I think it is fair to say that the water I have been using in my CC1 is decent. According to my the web site operated by the city I live in, the water hardness varies from 75 to 100 ppm and then I run the water through both a sediment and carbon taste filter before I use it in the machine.

The higher pressure has increased the reliability of my shots and also the taste. I have created 10 drinks in a row, drank every drop, and no sink shots. Sounds great right? Well, the coffee is good, but not the best I have had. Now I am wondering if getting the pressure up to 9 bars would make any difference. I know that most machines are set to brew around 9 bars. I think I would have to send the machine back to the factory to achieve 9 bars unless I am willing to sacrifice the remaining warranty. I assume it has a one year warranty, so I have a few months left on the warranty. I am not even sure if the pressure valve on my CC1 can be field adjusted. I assume it can be adjusted if you are willing to do a little work.

All this for this one question:
Should I try to get the pressure from 8.5 to 9 bars or am I just wasting my time?
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CoffeeRon
Senior Member
CoffeeRon
Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Posts: 734
Location: Tacoma Wa.
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Wega Lyra, Europiccola(still...
Grinder: Macap M7D, Pharos, Vario W,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam CoffeeMaster
Drip: Melita BCM-4
Roaster: FR SR500,B-1600, SC/TO
Posted Sat May 18, 2013, 9:54pm
Subject: Re: Finally on a roll.... 10 shots- no sink shots...but what about pressure?
 

I just did a search on brew pressure, seems 8.5 bar is not uncommon. Some say that some beans are better there. (just quickly looking at a few threads, there are many). I'm wondering have you played around much with your preinfusion? That's a nice feature of the CC1, it can make a big difference in the cup. Also how's your shot timing, do you have a bottomless PF? If not then inconsistent shot times and/or early blonding are maybe your best indicators of possible channeling, another factor that would affect the flavor.
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DeanOK
Senior Member
DeanOK
Joined: 24 Sep 2012
Posts: 649
Location: OK
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Vario W
Posted Sun May 19, 2013, 4:06am
Subject: Re: Finally on a roll.... 10 shots- no sink shots...but what about pressure?
 

CoffeeRon Said:

... Also how's your shot timing, do you have a bottomless PF? If not then inconsistent shot times and/or early blonding are maybe your best indicators of possible channeling, another factor that would affect the flavor.

Posted May 18, 2013 link

Thank you for your efforts!

I do have a bottomless PF and I use it all of the time. In fact, I suspect I will always use it.

I played around with pre-infusion back several months ago when I was having so many issues, but lately I have been pulling shots straight through. I usually time my shots into a graduated shot glass that is sitting on an electronic gram scale. I got started doing this trying to diagnose my terrible shots and I have been all over the place timing the shots, water temperature and and yield trying to get a decent shot... of course, I had no idea while I was doing all of this that my pressure was at 5 bars. I now can get good looking shots that time out about anywhere I want. I have generally been using 19 grams of freshly ground coffee and I can get a perfect double stream that combines together into a single stream when observing the bottomless PF. I usually have no squirters. If I keep the timing to under 26 or 28 seconds, I generally see little if any bonding.

I am having to start over with my efforts to obtain the best taste because I have only pulled 10 shots since I got the pressure up to 8.5 bars (no 11 will be when I finish writing this response).  Right now, I am grinding Redline. Redline's guidelines is to yield about 19.5 grams of espresso from 19 grams of coffee in 21-23 seconds with a water temperature of 200.5. The coffee I have is about 3 weeks old and this will push the factory calibration on my Vario W to the absolute limit to get that much restriction. I have actually been playing around at 28 to 36 grams of yield in 26-28 seconds since I have the pressure up to 8.5 bars. It's not bad, but lacks the after taste that I like from coffee shops. I have been using a water temperature of 198 to 205. My measurements tend to make me think I have an offset of about 4 to 5 degrees F.

I realize may answers sound a little more like I am working in a lab than making coffee. This stems from the great effort I have made to try and figure out why my coffee was so bad. I think I will probably get away from the scales and all of that when I feel like I have found my sweet spot and have an understanding of where I need to be.

Edit to add info:
On Tuesday Ozarka will begin delivering their drinking water to my house. This is the water I will use in the coffee maker in the future. Their drinking water is distilled water with minerals added back for taste. I have one of their dispensers at work and the water is very good. I have read that you do not want to use distilled water, but I am assuming this water will be fine since it has minerals added back to it. Their quality report shows hardness at 25-30 PPM. This should ensure that the inside of my machine stays nice and clean.
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CoffeeRon
Senior Member
CoffeeRon
Joined: 26 Apr 2009
Posts: 734
Location: Tacoma Wa.
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Wega Lyra, Europiccola(still...
Grinder: Macap M7D, Pharos, Vario W,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam CoffeeMaster
Drip: Melita BCM-4
Roaster: FR SR500,B-1600, SC/TO
Posted Sun May 19, 2013, 8:37am
Subject: Re: Finally on a roll.... 10 shots- no sink shots...but what about pressure?
 

Sound like you're just another coffee geek :P  I weigh my coffee prior to grinding, once I determined that I consistently lose about .2 -.3 gr. to the grinding process I called it good there. I've never weighed my shots but many people do.
 My Wega has a preinfusion timer that the previous owner had installed. It delays the pump so line pressure hits the puck first- (I'm plumbed in). He had it set to about four seconds so I've always just left it there. Preinfusion is generally considered a good thing- E-61 lever machines have preinfusion by virtue of the lever. You might try adding a little and see if it helps your flavor.
 Sounds like you have things dialed in pretty well. Your beans are a little old at three weeks past roast. Not only is this affecting the flavor but you're needing to grind finer at this point to dial it in. I think the water you're getting sounds like a good thing. It may be time for you to try out some different beans and find some more to your liking. Have you considered home roasting? If you have a little time, and patience for the learning curve (sounds like you do, just divert the energy you were putting into the machine into roasting :) it can be fun and rewarding- as well as saving you some money on coffee.
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DeanOK
Senior Member
DeanOK
Joined: 24 Sep 2012
Posts: 649
Location: OK
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: QM Vetrano 2B
Grinder: Vario W
Posted Sun May 19, 2013, 9:52am
Subject: Re: Finally on a roll.... 10 shots- no sink shots...but what about pressure?
 

CoffeeRon Said:

... Your beans are a little old at three weeks past roast. Not only is this affecting the flavor but you're needing to grind finer at this point to dial it in. I think the water you're getting sounds like a good thing. It may be time for you to try out some different beans and find some more to your liking. Have you considered home roasting? ...

Posted May 19, 2013 link

Just finished off the 3 week old beans this AM. Got a brand new bag of Redline that was roasted last Monday or Tuesday. I have used quite a bit of Redbird. I have also tried Elemental, Blue Bottle and a few others. My espresso over the last few months has been bad no matter which one I was using, so I probably will go back and try them again.

Not really ready to start roasting.
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,014
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sun May 19, 2013, 4:53pm
Subject: Re: Finally on a roll.... 10 shots- no sink shots...but what about pressure?
 

I am glad you found the root cause of your issue.  I am very happy you are getting better shots.  Please keep us informed of how it goes with the new water.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

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Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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