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Should espresso machines always "be able" to make 2 espressos with finer coffee?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Should espresso...  
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start13948
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Joined: 22 Jan 2014
Posts: 3
Location: Germany
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 5:31am
Subject: Should espresso machines always "be able" to make 2 espressos with finer coffee?
 

I'm between a rock and a hard place, that's why the strange question :-)

The problem is - I have a machine (Gaggia Classic) which I think is defective (it has ~1.5 years). It stopped making coffee at some point (the water didn't make it through the filter), even after regular cleaning cycles.

The producer (Philips Gaggia) returned it without fixing the problem. So I brought it to a specialized shop. They've asked me 150 bucks to repair it, mentioning that the pump was broken.

So I sent it back to the producer with the shop diagnosis, who again returned it without fixing the problem. After a long phone call, they told me they would've sent me a new filter (for two espressos), to see what would have happened.

It actually worked. It works though, only when I try to make one espresso; when I try to make two, the water doesn't get through. I don't use very fine grinding; I use the supermarket grinder (don't laugh :-)) with level 2 of 5, where 1 is the finest.

So the question is: since I'm between a potential scamming shop and an unhelpful producer, at least I wanted to know if home espresso machines are generally supposed to "make two espressos" even with finely ground coffee (in which case I have a defective machine), or not.

Many thanks!
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
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Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 6:54am
Subject: Re: Should espresso machines always "be able" to make 2 espressos with finer
 

Your problem is the supermarket grinder and stale beans.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to get good espresso without a quality grinder of your own. Any coffee older than TWO WEEKS FROM THE DAY IT WAS ROASTED is too stale for espresso, anything in the supermarket is hopelessly stale. Even quality FRESH coffee, is stale 15 minutes after you grind it.

You do not say which machine you have but I suspect strongly that it has a pressurized portafilter to get ANYTHING that resembles espresso from stale supermarket, poorly ground coffee

Properly ground and dosed, any machine can make one or two shots when the proper coffee basket is used.

 
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start13948
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Joined: 22 Jan 2014
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Location: Germany
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 8:58am
Subject: Re: Should espresso machines always "be able" to make 2 espressos with finer
 

The model is actually written in the post (Gaggia classic).

Quality is not a concern of mine at this stage - it's about the "mechanics", therefore I'm puzzled if staleness of the coffee can actually prevent the coffee from coming out.

Under the assumption that I don't have a grinder, at this point I'll buy a package of ground coffee for espresso machines, and open it and test immediately. Based on what you wrote, "Properly ground and dosed, any machine can make one or two shots when the proper coffee basket is used", I can assume that if it doesn't work, there's something wrong with the machine.

Thanks!
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emradguy
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Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 9:27am
Subject: Re: Should espresso machines always "be able" to make 2 espressos with finer
 

start13948 Said:

The model is actually written in the post (Gaggia classic).

Quality is not a concern of mine at this stage - it's about the "mechanics", therefore I'm puzzled if staleness of the coffee can actually prevent the coffee from coming out.

Under the assumption that I don't have a grinder, at this point I'll buy a package of ground coffee for espresso machines, and open it and test immediately. Based on what you wrote, "Properly ground and dosed, any machine can make one or two shots when the proper coffee basket is used", I can assume that if it doesn't work, there's something wrong with the machine.

Thanks!

Posted January 22, 2014 link

Without grinding yourself and adjusting grind fineness to flow rate...your "mechanics" cannot be solved. Your best bet, since you don't care about quality, is to use preground coffee packaged in bricks and the pressurized portafilter.  When you start to care what it tastes like, get yourself a decent espresso grinder and fresh beans.

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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JPF
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Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 9:52am
Subject: Re: Should espresso machines always "be able" to make 2 espressos with finer
 

I don't think pre-ground super market coffee will choke the machine.  If anything you should be getting gushers.  It does sound like you have a problem.

 
Living the caffeinated life.
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SJM
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Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 10:00am
Subject: Re: Should espresso machines always "be able" to make 2 espressos with finer
 

"cleaning cycles"??

What exactly have you done for your regular maintenance of the machine?  What have you used to descale? and how often?  What have you used to backflush and how often?  

Your symptoms most probably indicate a blockage somewhere between the pump and the brew group.
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CMIN
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Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 10:00am
Subject: Should espresso machines always "be able" to make 2 espressos with finer coffee?
 

I'd agree, supermarket coffee and grinders preground, though awful and impossible to pull anything resembling espresso, wouldn't really choke the machine. You'd get gusher shots.

That said, you should test with a pressure gauge if your opv is working correctly. Could be a number of things, opv out of wack, weak pump not pushing water through especially with stale preground. That said a little confused by what you said, did you mean a double basket for a double shot or used to split into like 1oz shots in two glasses same time? Pressurized basket, or are you using regular baskets?

And yes like above, what have you done to clean? Could be blockage. Have you ever backflushed?
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start13948
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Joined: 22 Jan 2014
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Location: Germany
Expertise: I live coffee

Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 10:24am
Subject: Re: Should espresso machines always "be able" to make 2 espressos with finer
 

(Thanks everybody!

So, what I referred with "filter for two espressos" is actually a Pressurized double filter basket (Click Here (www.wholelattelove.com)).

Regarding the cycles, I've cleaned every few months. The first time I've used the specific product (can't remember the brand), then I've started using distilled vinegar (in water), since I've read that as long as it's an acid, it's going to remove the scale. Of course, I'm aware that the taste it leaves last longer than specific products.

I live in an area where water has much much scale.

I've never heard of backflushing. If you think it may solve the problem, I'll certainly try it. I had no idea that I should have done additional operations other than the regular cleaning.
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CMIN
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Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,362
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 10:34am
Subject: Should espresso machines always "be able" to make 2 espressos with finer coffee?
 

Descaler is run through the tank water (I use Dezcal). But you should have a blank disc (basket) for your portafilter that came with your machine, you lock in like you normally would and turn on and then off after like 7-10 seconds to backflush. I uses Cafiza like this once a month. And then every day or two after use I use it with no Cafiza and just do a blank backflush quickly. You may have crud built up from never backflushing.

Pressurized baskets are for preground coffee. Though it's rare, the 1st machine I started with had them too, and they can get chocked out or if the pressure clip isn't working correctly. Since you don't have a grinder, only thing you can do is grind coarser at the store and test. But I would get a pressure gauge to measure your OPV and make sure it's working right too.

You have a great starter machine that can be used with normal baskets (should of come with them?), if you can get a good grinder and beans you'll be set.
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D4F
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Joined: 15 Mar 2012
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Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
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Posted Wed Jan 22, 2014, 10:38am
Subject: Re: ULKA pump, machine, or coffee problem?
 

Paul, welcome to CG.  

Here is a handy diagram that can help with parts and names.  In the US we get 3 baskets with the machine, a single and a double each with only a single hole on the bottom outside, and a regular double basket with multiple holes on the bottom.  The single hole bottom baskets are "perfect crema" baskets to be used with a device in the portafilter hole.

Click Here (www.partsguru.com)

Which baskets are you trying?

When have you last removed 24 and 25 and cleaned and backflushed the machine?

Have you descaled, and if so, when last?

Pump versus machine problems, versus coffee and grinder can be difficult to diagnosis. You might look at this thread

http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machinemods/656355

Try looking at that thread and measure the flows from the wand and group and post that with the questions above.  Try to separate the machine and pump from coffee and grind.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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