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Swirled extraction from bottomless portafilter
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Swirled...  
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kajitox
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2013
Posts: 26
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra II
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Bodom French Press,...
Posted Thu Mar 13, 2014, 7:59am
Subject: Swirled extraction from bottomless portafilter
 

Hey folks, I've been having an interesting problem the last couple of days and want to know if it's due to what I suspect. First, gear:

-La Nuova Era Cuadra II
-Baratza Preciso
-Bottomless portafilter

I'll weigh each shot, I use a OE dosing ring and an almost-needlepoint to ensure even distribution. I do a cooling flush and measure the temperature with Eric's thermometer. It should be a no-brainer at that point, right? Well, I put the portafilter in the group, pull the lever and I start to see really nice, thick drips from all over the basket, coalescing...but as it does, it stops extracting from certain parts of the basket. Then since the coffee is only coming out of small parts of the basket and is getting strangely extracted, the pull comes out heavily tiger striped *and* swirled like a barber's pole.

I pulled 6 shots one after the other to narrow the problems down: I changed my dose between 18-20g, I changed my grind within a couple of large clicks on the hopper (significant on the Preciso), then in an act of desperation, I changed the beans to make sure it wasn't those beans.

Now personally I think this sounds like a problem with dosing or grinding. As I mentioned, I'm pretty meticulous about dose. Grind, though...maybe it could be the grinder! I checked the grinds on a plate and inspected them like a madman (my housemates were questioning my sanity). Nothing wrong there, either.

Last possible thing: maybe it's the beans. The beans are old. It's true. I used a 2 week old geisha and a 3 week old aricha. I've had them both pull nicely in the past though...

Can anyone confirm that old beans could cause what I'm experiencing, or do you think there's another culprit?
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StereoHeathen
Senior Member


Joined: 11 Sep 2011
Posts: 56
Location: Sacramento, CA
Expertise: Pro Barista

Grinder: "Starbucks" Baratza Maestro
Drip: Bee House, Clever
Posted Thu Mar 13, 2014, 12:23pm
Subject: Re: Swirled extraction from bottomless portafilter
 

How does it taste?
I honestly don't understand what the problem is.

And yes, old beans sometimes just do strange things.
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SproBro
Senior Member


Joined: 11 Feb 2014
Posts: 80
Location: Topeka, KS
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: CC1 v1.5
Grinder: Compak K10PB, Vario
Posted Thu Mar 13, 2014, 6:57pm
Subject: Re: Swirled extraction from bottomless portafilter
 

Your machine outclasses your grinder by a mile! Something with better ability to dial in is what I'd put my money on. I tried some god-knows-how-old beans from Natural Grocers equal exchange "Fill a big" to get me through a day before my new stuff arrived (I shop there anyway), and it needed a pretty stinking fine setting on my Vario, about a 2-B. Normally I'm about 2-P through 2-E, and thats a pretty stinking fine adjustment going from too fast to ristretto territory.

[espresso snobbery] natural grocers equal exchange espresso blend at who knows how old has some blueberry acidity, more than I can say for *$, and is only about a full city roast! How can a volume grocery store level espresso blend outdo starbucks? I guess just ask a Starbucks barista what kind of tamper they use, problem solved [/espresso snobbery]

Pretty Stinking Fine.
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kajitox
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2013
Posts: 26
Location: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra II
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Bodom French Press,...
Posted Thu Mar 13, 2014, 9:42pm
Subject: Re: Swirled extraction from bottomless portafilter
 

Tragic, but you might be right. I love the Preciso and it's tough to spend another $500 on a Vario, but I can't help but think: "what would cause this type of uneven extraction excluding the distribution?" and it really comes down to the grind...

I'm going to get some fresher beans and see if the problem continues. If it doesn't, though, I want to pay more attention to the tiger striping of the shots to see if I still have strange spots where it's not extracting evenly.

As for the taste - the aricha is pretty bright to begin with. I can usually tell bright from acrid and this was just bright. The body was pretty good, all things considered. But the problem with those test shots was that they started pulling so crappy that I always cut them off around 1oz -- more in a ristretto range. If I had tried to pull them into a full 1.5-2oz I'm not convinced they'd be drinkable.
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