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Overly bitter shots from my QM Anita
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Overly bitter...  
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belmore
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Dec 2013
Posts: 12
Location: Atlanta, GA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Dec 2, 2013, 10:12pm
Subject: Overly bitter shots from my QM Anita
 

I need help. I recently purchased a Quick Mill Anita as an upgrade from my Delongi Magnifica super automatic. I also have a Nespresso Pixie. The problem is that every single shot that I've pulled out of my Anita is overly strong, dark and bitter.

Initially, my shots were completely undrinkable (extremely bitter). I lowered the pump pressure from about 11 to 10 (during a back flush), resulting in a pressure of about 9.5 while pulling a shot. I also adjusted the steam pressure from 1.3 to 1.1. These changes and/or perhaps improvements in my technique enabled me to produce less bitter espresso that was at least drinkable (but only with a teaspoon of sugar). But everything that I tried from that point on hasn't yielded any significant improvement. In fact, my shots are very consistent. It's just they're consistently not very good (to my taste).

Most of my experimentation has been using the double portafilter with the single shot basket. I've tried several different fresh beans from Whole Foods (Bel Canto, Sierra, and 2 different decaf espresso beans), all with pretty much the same result. I've tried longer cooling flushes. I've tried to improve my tamping by carefully distributing the grounds and using a bathroom scale. I've looked for tamping problems using a bottomless portafilter (I've seen problems now and then, but they don't translate to anything significant in the cup). I've tried weighing my beans (14g), and adjusting the grind on my Vario (currently set to 3K) until my pulls yield a shot of 28g or so in 25-30 seconds (measured from the time I pull the lever). No difference. I've yet to produce what I'd consider a sour shot even when my grind was obviously too coarse.

Now, I'm left wondering, do I know what a real espresso shot is supposed to taste like? I was expecting an improvement in taste over my 5 year old Magnifica. But even with stale beans, unscientifically set grind, and probably dull burrs, it produces better tasting shots to my palate, as does my Nespresso Pixie. I don't get it. Is it my lack of barista skills, bad taste buds, defective Vario or a defective Anita? Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Bruce
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
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Posted Mon Dec 2, 2013, 11:39pm
Subject: Re: Overly bitter shots from my QM Anita
 

1 - Look for a local roaster where you can get known quality beans, roasted and blended for espresso, but avoid the dark, oily coffees.

2 - Get Eris S's Grouphead thermometer.

3 - Are you weighing the coffee in the PF before brewing? Consistent dose is important.

4 - Use a little more coffee and grind a bit more coarse - that involves having control over the dose. best to use a scale capable of 0.1gram resolution.

5 - Invite a fellow barista over who has a better grinder. Beer or BBQ or both usually is enough of an incentive.

 
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Coffeenoobie
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Coffeenoobie
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Espresso: N S Oscar
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Posted Tue Dec 3, 2013, 8:17am
Subject: Re: Overly bitter shots from my QM Anita
 

Grinder Grinder Grinder, and what he said.

 
Coffeenoobie

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

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CMIN
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Joined: 14 Jun 2012
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Posted Tue Dec 3, 2013, 8:41am
Subject: Re: Overly bitter shots from my QM Anita
 

Coffeenoobie Said:

Grinder Grinder Grinder, and what he said.

Posted December 3, 2013 link

he has a Vario? That's more than plenty

Whole Foods beans aren't usually fresh and the stores that roast I'd say don't really know what their doing from my experience, just b/c their fresh roasted doesn't mean their good. At least down here. I'd say find a nice shop near your area or a few, and have espresso at them and compare. Vario and Anita is a more than competent setup.

Eric's thermometer like mentioned is a smart buy, as you'll know the temp of the water, b/c if the water temp is off at extraction that will affect the taste.
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CSME9
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CSME9
Joined: 26 Feb 2004
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Posted Tue Dec 3, 2013, 8:55am
Subject: Re: Overly bitter shots from my QM Anita
 

belmore Said:

I need help. I recently purchased a Quick Mill Anita as an upgrade from my Delongi Magnifica super automatic. I also have a Nespresso Pixie. The problem is that every single shot that I've pulled out of my Anita is overly strong, dark and bitter.

Initially, my shots were completely undrinkable (extremely bitter). I lowered the pump pressure from about 11 to 10 (during a back flush), resulting in a pressure of about 9.5 while pulling a shot. I also adjusted the steam pressure from 1.3 to 1.1. These changes and/or perhaps improvements in my technique enabled me to produce less bitter espresso that was at least drinkable (but only with a teaspoon of sugar). But everything that I tried from that point on hasn't yielded any significant improvement. In fact, my shots are very consistent. It's just they're consistently not very good (to my taste).

Most of my experimentation has been using the double portafilter with the single shot basket. I've tried several different fresh beans from Whole Foods (Bel Canto, Sierra, and 2 different decaf espresso beans), all with pretty much the same result. I've tried longer cooling flushes. I've tried to improve my tamping by carefully distributing the grounds and using a bathroom scale. I've looked for tamping problems using a bottomless portafilter (I've seen problems now and then, but they don't translate to anything significant in the cup). I've tried weighing my beans (14g), and adjusting the grind on my Vario (currently set to 3K) until my pulls yield a shot of 28g or so in 25-30 seconds (measured from the time I pull the lever). No difference. I've yet to produce what I'd consider a sour shot even when my grind was obviously too coarse.

Now, I'm left wondering, do I know what a real espresso shot is supposed to taste like? I was expecting an improvement in taste over my 5 year old Magnifica. But even with stale beans, unscientifically set grind, and probably dull burrs, it produces better tasting shots to my palate, as does my Nespresso Pixie. I don't get it. Is it my lack of barista skills, bad taste buds, defective Vario or a defective Anita? Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks!

Bruce

Posted December 2, 2013 link

Buy fresh roasted quality coffee, use the double shot basket and not the single as you stated. Updose from the 14g to 16-18g, flush until the water stops hissing, to much longer and the shot will be to cool which leads to sour shots.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,710
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
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Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Tue Dec 3, 2013, 10:45am
Subject: Re: Overly bitter shots from my QM Anita
 

FRESH BEANS , notice a theme here?
The thermometer may or may not be a good thing. It can't hurt but I have found it to not be such a big improvement either. It does help with the learning curve but after you understand what you are doing, it just kind of is there and not used, YMMV. You have dropped the temp pretty low though, the machine needs proper heat to warm the group. If it works for you then it works but I, myself, would put it back to 1.3 YMMV!

 
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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belmore
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Dec 2013
Posts: 12
Location: Atlanta, GA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Dec 3, 2013, 10:45am
Subject: Re: Overly bitter shots from my QM Anita
 

Thanks for all the advice! I live in Norcross, GA (north suburb of Atlanta). Does anyone have a suggestion of where I might be able to get some quality beans? I'm still questioning whether the real issue is me. I noticed that adding a splash of hot water to my shot cuts the bitterness dramatically and makes it pretty close to what comes out of my Magnifica. Maybe I need to start sampling espresso shots from cafes.

If I use the double basket and use 16-18g, what should the target weight of the resulting shot be?

Thanks again!
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belmore
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Dec 2013
Posts: 12
Location: Atlanta, GA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Dec 3, 2013, 12:43pm
Subject: Re: Overly bitter shots from my QM Anita
 

I lowered the steam pressure from 1.3 to 1.1 after reading some posts from other forum members that seemed to think that it simplified temp control (shorter flushes, longer recovery times). I haven't noticed any issues as a result (milk still steams quickly enough  -- is there any other disadvantages of lowering it?).

With the portafilter off, the end of the cooling flush on the Anita seems pretty easy to judge by either sight or sound. I'm using what I think is considered flush-n-go, where I have the portafilter loaded and ready before doing the cooling flush and start pulling the shot almost immediately after. I've tried stopping the cooling flush as soon as I see the steam subside and also extending it for up to 4 or 5 seconds more. I don't think either made a significant difference.  Should I be extending it even more?

I have considered getting Eric's thermometer, but after all the money that I've dropped, I'm trying to hold off unless I'm sure that it's needed. When I suggested to my wife that I might need to buy more equipment to start roasting my own beans, well.... she wasn't very pleased ;) Keep in mind, my current goal is not to improve my great shots into God shots. I'm just shooting for decent shots in the near term.
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,020
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

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Posted Tue Dec 3, 2013, 2:34pm
Subject: Re: Overly bitter shots from my QM Anita
 

Fresh beans from well respected roasters delivered to your door within about 2-3 days of roasting...

Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

I live in Houston and buy beans from both coasts regularly.  Order on the weekend.  The beans will be roasted on Monday or Tuesday (depending who you select and what bean/blend you choose), and you'll have them Thursday or Friday from just about anyone on this list.   Just a few mouse and keyboard clicks...easier than going to the store!

BTW...I used to buy Bel Canto from WF, where it was roasted 1/2 mile from my house.  EVERY bean/blend I've bought off of the roasters listed in that link above blows it away!

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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CSME9
Senior Member
CSME9
Joined: 26 Feb 2004
Posts: 276
Location: West Texas
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Isomac Tea, Rancilio Silvia,...
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Moka Pot
Roaster: BBQ Roaster
Posted Tue Dec 3, 2013, 4:26pm
Subject: Re: Overly bitter shots from my QM Anita
 

http://users.rcn.com/erics/Adaptor%20Tidbits.pdf

Check out this link on flushing from the guy who invented the group head thermometer.
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