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Watery Latte/Cappuccinos
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Watery...  
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arrrmand
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Mar 2014
Posts: 8
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: DeLonghi EC155
Grinder: Baratza Encore
Posted Sun Mar 16, 2014, 9:32am
Subject: Watery Latte/Cappuccinos
 

I'm new to the coffee making world with a De Longhi EC155 espresso maker and a Baratza Encore grinder. I've been doing a ton of research online but figure it's best to come on to this forum to see if anyone can give me advice.

Lately, my cappuccinos and lattes have been coming out a bit watery. I'm pulling shots (25ish seconds for about 2 oz) with plenty of crema, so I think the problem is with my milk frothing. At first when I got the machine, it seems that my drinks were coming out a lot better, but lately they haven't.

Could this be because I'm using 2% milk now, rather than whole?

My frothing technique is to froth cold milk in a cold pitcher (straight out of the fridge) until the pitcher gets too hot to hold by hand. Frothing wand is about 1/4 in and I get the swirl of the milk while it's frothing. End result is something that doesn't quite have the consistency of paint, but still looking thicker than cold milk, with a little bit of microfoam.

Based on this, do you think my espresso shots are coming out too watery, or is it my milk technique?
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brianl
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Dec 2012
Posts: 448
Location: Chicago IL
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic (w/PID)
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: chemex
Posted Mon Mar 17, 2014, 6:33am
Subject: Re: Watery Latte/Cappuccinos
 

I might as well say it because everyone else here is thinking it... Are you using a non-pressurized basket or just what came with the machine?
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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 Mon Mar 17, 2014, 6:50am
Subject: Re: Watery Latte/Cappuccinos
 

To echo the above post.

There are sooooooooooooooooo many variables in espresso and you are just starting. I strongly suspect that you are using the pressurized basket / PF that comes with the machine as the grinder you have is not able to produce a grind for espresso. For other methods of brewing yes and for use with a pressurized PF, yes but for espresso with a normal basket, nope.

So ASSuming that you are using a pressurized basket, your "crema" isn't really, it is foamed coffee, the PPF is designed to give you something that resembles espresso with stale pre ground coffee from the supermarket or with a grinder that is not espresso able (your grinder).

How much coffee are you using in your "shots"? You should be using 14 to 18 g depending on what you can fit into the basket, most likely, the lower end of the range.

2% is fine, I use it all the time. A thermometer will help a lot when it comes to steaming. It baffles me on how, with a process that must be so consistent, a method so prone to error as the feeling in your hand is accepted as the correct way to measure temp in the milk.

Stale coffee can give you thin shots.
Too little coffee can give you thin shots.
A PPF and poorly ground coffee can give you thin shots.

How old is your coffee? More than 2 weeks from the DAY IT WAS ROASTED, not a best by or a use before date, and it is pretty much plant food when talking about espresso.

 
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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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 968
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Mon Mar 17, 2014, 7:55am
Subject: Re: Watery Latte/Cappuccinos
 

arrrmand Said:

Could this be because I'm using 2% milk now, rather than whole?

Posted March 16, 2014 link

There's definitely a difference between whole and 2%.  You can easily rule this out by steaming some whole milk.
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TheRealScubaSteve
Senior Member
TheRealScubaSteve
Joined: 22 Feb 2014
Posts: 97
Location: Massachusetts
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Delonghi EC155
Grinder: Baratza Encore
Posted Mon Mar 17, 2014, 12:46pm
Subject: Re: Watery Latte/Cappuccinos
 

calblacksmith Said:

the grinder you have is not able to produce a grind for espresso

Posted March 17, 2014 link

This is not the case. This, of course, assumes that he re-calibrated his machine. I use the exact same setup with pretty good results. My results for you or others on this forum might not be up to snuff, but they are good enough to be better than other options in my area.

Arrrmand posed a similar question in this thread.

 
"But it is not a perfect world and none of us are god-shots.  As for me, I am a little over extracted and therefore slightly bitter and my crema is thin..." -Buckley
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arrrmand
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Mar 2014
Posts: 8
Location: San Francisco
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: DeLonghi EC155
Grinder: Baratza Encore
Posted Mon Mar 17, 2014, 3:58pm
Subject: Re: Watery Latte/Cappuccinos
 

BrianL: I tried my first shot of espresso using the nonpressurized method but didn't get too much of a difference from pressurized. I switched back to pressurized, based on comments here and was able to pull a good shot that made for an awesome iced latte. This is another reason why I think it's got more to do with my milk frothing/steaming method.

calblacksmith: i've turned my baratza down to the 4 setting from the recommended 8 for espresso and got better results. i guess it's just hard for me to figure out a discernible difference between pressurized and non-pressurized, but if you're convinced that out of the box, it's not really true crema and that whatever i'd get by taking the pressure plate off is true, maybe it's worth the effort?

i'm filling the basket for my shots...maybe i should measure, but it's essentially the equivalent of 2 full scoops (from the provided scooper). tamped down, the coffee is just under the top of the basket.

i guess it's out of laziness that i should look for more precise ways to measure steaming. (out of laziness again), what is the proper temp it should be?

a concern of mine is the water temp as well. i measured it yesterday and the highest it hit was 170 degrees. reading the forums, shouldn't it be warmer? this is after about 20 minutes of the green light being on.

i'm using coffee that is about 3 weeks from the day it was roasted.
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TheRealScubaSteve
Senior Member
TheRealScubaSteve
Joined: 22 Feb 2014
Posts: 97
Location: Massachusetts
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Delonghi EC155
Grinder: Baratza Encore
Posted Mon Mar 17, 2014, 8:23pm
Subject: Re: Watery Latte/Cappuccinos
 

arrrmand Said:

i measured it yesterday and the highest it hit was 170 degrees. reading the forums, shouldn't it be warmer? this is after about 20 minutes of the green light being on.

Posted March 17, 2014 link

Are you warming the machine up with the PF/basket in? If not, this would make a difference. You can also run water through the PF prior to dosing out your coffee to make everything nice and toasty.

arrrmand Said:

i'm using coffee that is about 3 weeks from the day it was roasted.

Posted March 17, 2014 link

Not very fresh - the amount of crema you'll get will be significantly lower than beans 1-2 weeks from roast date. Also, a noteworthy point is that fresh and stale coffee can grind differently, making your dose higher or lower than anticipated. I discovered this when filling the stock PF basket - fresh coffee only yielded 10g while staler coffee yielded 13-14. This will significantly alter the taste/quality of your espresso.

 
"But it is not a perfect world and none of us are god-shots.  As for me, I am a little over extracted and therefore slightly bitter and my crema is thin..." -Buckley
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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 Tue Mar 18, 2014, 6:18am
Subject: Re: Watery Latte/Cappuccinos
 

TheRealScubaSteve Said:

This is not the case. This, of course, assumes that he re-calibrated his machine. I use the exact same setup with pretty good results. My results for you or others on this forum might not be up to snuff, but they are good enough to be better than other options in my area.

Arrrmand posed a similar question in this thread.

Posted March 17, 2014 link

I am happy that you are pleased with your results but the fact remains that the grinder is not up to snuff. Sorry. The GRINDER is the heart of an espresso setup, not the machine, a weak grinder will never produce great espresso, the hard truth is that the grinder under discussion is NOT designed as an espresso grinder. It takes a CONSISTENT BI OR TRIMODAL grind for espresso and the Encore is simply not designed or made to do this.

As I said, with a PRESSURIZED PF, it will work, that is the reason these machines come with a PF in the first place.

OP, just HOW are you measuring the temp you say is 170? A regular thermometer is not going to react fast enough to get any useable information from. You need a thermocouple based thermometer, digital and even then without the styrofoam cup method, the data is not much use. Then again WITH the styrofoam cup, it is only a ball park guess anyway.

Like I said, old coffee changes the shot. Three weeks, while still useable for a PPF, it will not produce high quality shots.

A "scoop" is not accurate enough of a measurement. The volume of the same weight of ground coffee changes a LOT with different grind settings. Weighing is the only way to really know what the dose is, using a scale that reads in 1/10 grams.

It is not a matter of being convinced about the crema, it is a fact. With the PPF, you force the coffee through a small hole and foam the coffee as it passes through the hole. REAL crema is the oils in the coffee naturally in suspension from the brewing process, it is not foamed or fluffed up by passing through a small hole. In essence with a PPF, the coffee is whipped, just like you would whip cream for a topping on your ice cream or pie.

Get some fresh coffee and start again. If you were happy at the start but now you are not, and the coffee is on the back side of fresh then new, fresh will change the equation.

 
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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TheRealScubaSteve
Senior Member
TheRealScubaSteve
Joined: 22 Feb 2014
Posts: 97
Location: Massachusetts
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Delonghi EC155
Grinder: Baratza Encore
Posted Tue Mar 18, 2014, 11:08am
Subject: Re: Watery Latte/Cappuccinos
 

calblacksmith Said:

I am happy that you are pleased with your results but the fact remains that the grinder is not up to snuff.

Posted March 18, 2014 link

I did not mean to imply in the slightest that the Encore is capable is really good or high quality shots. The fact remains, though, that a calibrated Encore is capable of grinding as fine as talcum powder. I'm sure the consistency is no where close to high/er end grinders, but then it could also be argued that even with the best grinder available, the EC155 would still not be that capable because it's a cheap, entry-level "espresso" machine.

I'm speaking strictly on my experience - I quickly changed from undrinkable shots with the standard PPF and de-pressurized, made bottomless, and with a new (607706) basket. I'm also assuming his standards, like mine, are not as good as yours since we are both new to espresso.

I agree that weighing is a must, especially if you use different roasts and do not freeze beans - it'll be a constant battle for consistency and dose with many a bad shots in between.

calblacksmith Said:

It is not a matter of being convinced about the crema, it is a fact.

Posted March 18, 2014 link

Even de-pressurizing this machine and using the stock basket does not yield very drinkable crema. It wasn't until I upgraded to bottomless with a new basket that I could actually realize what real crema was supposed to taste like - delicious!

 
"But it is not a perfect world and none of us are god-shots.  As for me, I am a little over extracted and therefore slightly bitter and my crema is thin..." -Buckley
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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 Tue Mar 18, 2014, 12:07pm
Subject: Re: Watery Latte/Cappuccinos
 

Steve, it is not so much how fine it will grind, I have no problem saying it likely can choke an espresso machine after being modded, rather it does not produce an espresso grind. Espresso needs a bi or tri modal grind. I know that grinder is even sold as a grinder for espresso by the maker but............

I also have NO doubt that you saw an increase in quality, the better the grinder, the better the shots (well you do need to do everything else correct too) I am sure you have seen the comment on grinders a lot, the one about a $500 grinder and a $150 machine VS the other way around. It is true. Just imagine the increase in quality when you someday upgrade to a grinder DESIGNED ONLY for espresso VS a one size does all grinder. The change will be as big or bigger as when you went to the bottomless from the stock PF!

We all start someplace, I started with lower equipment than you, a steam toy and a whirley chopper. Yes I did! Each step made a big improvement until I decided that, "to heck with it" I was going to stay with espresso and I skipped straight from a FF x5 and a Cusinart psuto burr grinder (craigs list for $100 and BB&B ~$50) to an Oscar and a SJ. It was a step well worth taking. Oscar lasted about a year until I found the ECM, SJ stayed until just a month or two ago when it went to a new home.

 
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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