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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > More newbie...  
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Bevocaffe
Senior Member
Bevocaffe
Joined: 9 Jan 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Baratza Encore
Posted Wed Jan 9, 2013, 11:36pm
Subject: More newbie questions
 

Greetings,
I'm brand new to this forum--first post--and new as well as a home barista. I'm starting out with a Gaggia Classic and a Baratza Encore grinder, have been experimenting like a mad scientist and have yet to pull a decent shot. I'm sure I will have many more questions as I become more familiar with the process, but for now, two:
1) can anyone familiar with the Encore give me a little guidance about setting the grind for espresso?
2) I've followed the directions I've read in forums and seen in various videos for filling and tamping the portafilter (not pressurized). My understanding is that the filter should be filled almost to the top after tamping. But when I do this, it's too full for the portafilter to turn into place under the grouphead. I take coffee out until it will turn, but this seems so hit and miss (mostly miss so far). Any guiding rule for how high the level should be in the portafilter?

Any suggestions would be most appreciated!
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,041
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Wed Jan 9, 2013, 11:55pm
Subject: Re: More newbie questions
 

Welcome to CoffeeGeek!

I don't know who suggested buying the Encore to you, but despite what Baratza claims on their website it's not a grinder well suited for brewing espresso, because the steps of its 40 settings, ranging from French press to espresso, are way too big to adjust the grinder properly. The entrance level grinder for that purpose is the Preciso with 440 steps.

Also the Gaggia Classic comes with (double walled) pressurized filter baskets. Be sure to get rid of them and to buy regular baskets.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,734
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 Thu Jan 10, 2013, 8:33am
Subject: Re: More newbie questions
 

Once you have regular baskets and a grinder able to grind for espresso, you need a scale that weighs in 1/10 g. You can not accurately dose by looking at a volume in a basket. Then, tamp to about 30 pounds, on a scale, the exact weight is not so important but being consistent is.

Buy coffee that is less than two weeks old FROM THE DAY IT WAS ROASTED. You can not expect to get anything even close to espresso from supermarket coffee, it is just too old, let alone low quality.

If you have noticed, this whole hobby is about consistency, that requires a way to be consistent such as scales, measuring glasses, timers etc.

Welcome to the board!

 
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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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,383
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 Thu Jan 10, 2013, 9:03am
Subject: Re: More newbie questions
 

Sarah, welcome to CoffeeGeek.

I used a Gaggia machine very similar to a Gaggia Classic for some 25 years, and it's a fine home machine.  The frustration you are experiencing stems from two separate sources:  1) the normal frustration of any "newbie" just starting out, and 2) your grinder (sorry).

Wayne ("calblacksmith") is right when he emphasizes consistency above all else.  It doesn't matter, for example, if you tamp to 20, 25, 30 pounds, as long as you are consistent in doing so time and time again.  Soon, you won't have to tamp on a bathroom scale to be consistent -- it's like driving:  there is a muscle memory involved and soon you'll just tamp without thinking about it.

A couple of clichés for you (but, as you know, things become clichés because they are true) . . .

The Four M's of Espresso:
1) the Macinazione is the grinder, and with it, the correct grinding of the coffee beans;
2) the Miscela is the coffee beans/blend itself;
3) the Macchina is the espresso machine; and
4) the Mano is the skilled hand of the barista.  

All four are important.  Nothing is more important than the grinder.  (and, sadly, I'd move up from the Encore)

/ / / / /

Babbie's Rule* of Fifteens:
-- Green (unroasted) coffee beans should be roasted within 15 months, or they go stale.
-- Roasted coffee beans should be ground within 15 days, or they go stale.
-- Ground coffee should be used within 15 minutes, or it goes stale.

Your choice.

Also, you may want to read Dialing in a new espresso machine, a step by step guide, and The Home Barista's Guide to Espresso.

Finally, if I said "Say hi to Marlene for me," would that mean anything to you?

Cheers,
Jason

* OK, so there are very few hard-and-fast "rules" -- more like "rules-of-thumb."

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,007
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Thu Jan 10, 2013, 2:52pm
Subject: Re: More newbie questions
 

If you just bought the Encore new, I might a try at trade up or money back.  You will want either the Preciso or Vario(w) in the Baratza line.  Baratza.com refurb is a good place to buy if that is an option.

I will assume that you have and are trying the non-pressurized basket.  If you bought new, it would come with a single and double pressurized basket, and a double non-pressurized in North America according to the note that I had in mine.  If you bought used, then I hope a non-pressurized basket was included.  Make doubles only to be consistent.

You did not mention the tamper that you are using.  While tamping is not the greatest contribution to a good brew, improper tamping can certainly contribute to problems.  Do you have a 58 mm tamper that fits the basket?  With the plastic toy included you will tamp several times to try to get it all tamped down and the tamp will be very uneven.  That will not work well.

Finally a note on filling.  If you over fill you will have a difficult time getting the PF in the machine, or to lock.  I am going to say that by looks, it may be 3/16 - 1/4" below the top tamped.  That is not how to determine a proper dose, tamp or fill, but gives you an idea what it will look like.  Weight of beans/grind is the best as noted.  You cannot take coffee out of a filled and tamped PF and get it to work well.  You will disturb the tamp at minimum and get channeling.  When filled about correctly and tamped you should be able to place a nickle on top of the puck and then lock it in with nothing more that a slight trace of the nickle on the dry puck.  If it does not indent at all you are probably light on dose and if it is difficult to lock or indents then you are over.  This gives room for the puck to expand with water.

And a great article, and then the whole site

http://www.frcndigital.com/coffee/HowToEspresso.html

We are happy to help if more questions.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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Bevocaffe
Senior Member
Bevocaffe
Joined: 9 Jan 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Baratza Encore
Posted Fri Jan 11, 2013, 11:31pm
Subject: Re: More newbie questions
 

Thanks for your prompt and informative responses. I'm afraid I can't afford to upgrade the grinder just yet, so I hope to find a way to make the Encore work for me. Now that the weekend is here and I have some time to return to some serious practicing, I'll definitely try tamping suggestions. Stay tuned!

p.s. Jason, as my daughter said about this crossing of paths: it's freaky! Thanks for your generous response. I may take advantage...
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,383
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 Sat Jan 12, 2013, 10:24am
Subject: Re: More newbie questions
 

Hugs & kisses to all, Sarah -- hope to get to LA to see you and your wonderful family soon . . . take care.

Love,
Jason

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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Bevocaffe
Senior Member
Bevocaffe
Joined: 9 Jan 2013
Posts: 6
Location: Los Angeles
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Baratza Encore
Posted Tue Jan 15, 2013, 9:11am
Subject: Re: More newbie questions
 

I'm now getting decent shots--at least to my taste, 3 out of 4--but find that the shot flows faster from the left side of the portafilter than the right. Is this a distribution issue? I've been trying to correct it from this perspective, but the uneven pull is still happening. Or does it mean I need to clean the grouphead? Or both?

I'd also welcome any foaming suggestions. Still getting funky foam...

Thanks for your help!
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,067
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Tue Jan 15, 2013, 9:45am
Subject: Re: More newbie questions
 

Bevocaffe Said:

...the shot flows faster from the left side of the portafilter than the right. Is this a distribution issue?

Posted January 15, 2013 link

yes.  read this article..."Easy Guide to Better Espresso at Home" on www.espressomyespresso.com article 12 about midway down the right hand column under how to.  Well, I guess it could be an uneven tamping issue, but in either case the article will help a lot.

check some of the posts in latte art and etching for frothing recommendations, in particular look for a link to Scott Rao's YouTube video on how to practice using dish soap in water.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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