Posted Tue Dec 10, 2013, 8:13pm Subject: Superautomatic newbie help
Ok I just returned my Nespresso Pixie and bought a Saeco Vienna Plus. I have some fresh roasted beans from my local roaster. They are not overly dark and not oily at all. Every shot I try with it is super bitter, like it tastes like soap. The crema is very good and the aroma is good, the color is a little light and the stream turns blond very fast. The only adjustments I can make are grind size, dose (7-9g) and how much water. I have messed around a little bit but it's just not good. I made a latte and I am drinking it but the flavor other than bitterness is lost in the milk.
Anybody have experience with this machine and have some advice? I am planning on using this for a while until I can save up to get a good grinder and decent semi-automatic, but I would at least like to have my morning latte fix until then.
Edit: I am using these beans, not that anybody else would be familiar.
NobbyR Senior Member Joined: 10 Jul 2011 Posts: 1,969 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 Dec 11, 2013, 12:03am Subject: Re: Superautomatic newbie help
What exactly is it you're trying to brew? Espresso, ristretto, lungo or café crème?
As long as you can only adjust your dose from 7 to 9 gramm, it's a single cup you can brew. For that you'll need about 25-30 ml (1 oz) of water for an espresso (15 ml for a ristretto, 50 ml for a lungo, and 150 ml for a café crème). Try to adjust the grind in a way that it takes about a 25 second percolation time to brew any of those drinks.
Unfortunately, your machine (or almost any superautomatic) isn't up to brewing really good espresso.
*** "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)
Posted Wed Dec 11, 2013, 4:52am Subject: Re: Superautomatic newbie help
Just trying to brew espresso. I usually make them into lattes because I drink them too fast as espresso and drink too much. I think part of the problem is it's using too much water, so I will reduce that down. When do I start and end the timing to get to the 25 seconds, sorry true newbie.
Posted Wed Dec 11, 2013, 8:22am Subject: Re: Superautomatic newbie help
My first machine that purported to make espresso was a Gaggia Synchrony Digital, which is (or used to be) virtually identical to the Saeco Vienna, at least in terms of grinder and brew group. I can pretty much guarantee you that you're not going to be able to get an acceptable espresso shot from it. The grinder doesn't grind finely enough and the machine relies on a pressurized brew group to create "crema". It also has really bad temperature control. Any machine where you can't "choke" the extraction (e.g. grind the coffee so fine that the water can't get through) is not, in my experience, capable of making good espresso, because the right grind is quite frequently just a little short of that choke point.
The Synchrony, until it died, was consigned to making Americanos for my wife, who's never developed the espresso habit and will drink almost anything that someone calls coffee (regardless of which, I love her dearly, and she appreciates the coffee that I make for her, but most of the time she has to drink what gets served in the faculty and staff lounge of the community college where she works, which is to say, bitter brown water).
Even with the grinder set at its finest setting, the water at its hottest and the dose at its max, that grinder and grouphead combination, while it would most frequently beat out what we could get from *$$, never made a shot of something that I would drink as a straight up espresso. I'm very sorry, but the Saeco probably isn't capable of anything better.
Posted Wed Dec 11, 2013, 9:49am Subject: Re: Superautomatic newbie help
Thanks, I knew it would not be as good as a manual/semi automatic setup, but I had hoped it would be as good as the nespresso was. Any suggestions for just making lattes with it? Should I just keep making "espresso" shots or do you think it would be better with a different technique to get the best out of it for a latte? Compared to drip the nespresso was amazing, and I figured using fresh beans freshly ground would be able to do at least as good as the nespresso at a much cheaper per shot price.
Posted Wed Dec 11, 2013, 10:10am Subject: Re: Superautomatic newbie help
We never did some up with a great solution for the Gaggia. I've been homeroasting for over a decade now, so the beans were always incredibly fresh, but between the failings of the brew group and grinder and the weak steaming, we were never happy with it for anything but Americano/Cafe Crema making.
One thing to consider would be getting an expresso capable grinder and dosing through the "pre-ground" option on the Vienna. It's a little more work, but you can get a better grind in there. The temperature issues aren't really anything fixable, unfortunately, and the aluminum thermoblock combined with the super-auto brew path doesn't lend itself to descaling, so the temp problems only get worse over time with mineral buildup.
Posted Wed Dec 11, 2013, 2:16pm Subject: Re: Superautomatic newbie help
Well I kept messing with it and used up a half pound of the fresh roasted stuff. I took the grind all the way down to 2 and the set the coffee dose to 9g. It did start to choke the extraction some and the pull was better looking and better tasting. Since I used up that half pound I decided to go ahead and try the Lavazza since I had already purchased them. I filled up the hopper and ran a couple shots to make sure all of the other bean was out. The third shot was good, certainly not great, but good. I think I prefer the Lavazza since I am use to the stale nespresso blends and this tasted more like that but still a bit stronger. 2 shots made a very acceptable latte to my taste. Better than Starbucks and much cheaper. I guess as long as I can do that I will be happy with the machine for now.
I will look forward to trying a real machine and grinder though.
Posted Wed Dec 11, 2013, 2:28pm Subject: Re: Superautomatic newbie help
Another thing that will help is making sure your cups are well pre-heated. Use the "rinse" cycle to pull hot water into your cup and let it warm a little before pulling the shot. The top of the machine "cup warmer" doesn't get them near warm enough.
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