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What am I doing wrong with the setting Or missing something?
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > What am I doing...  
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Alonzo
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Apr 2010
Posts: 33
Location: San Diego, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rocket R58
Grinder: Mazzer Mini P
Posted Mon Mar 31, 2014, 5:23pm
Subject: What am I doing wrong with the setting Or missing something?
 

Hi geeks,

It's been 3~4 years for me to start to splurge on the espresso machine and grinder for better espresso.
Today I stopped by the local coffee roaster to buy a bean and the guy served me the espresso for free to try. It looked awesome with the dark brown color oil on the top of rich crema.
So I bought that bean with no question and rushed back home to try with my machine. However, the output was totally different and disappointing.
To be honest, I was thinking that sometimes my espresso is so tasty and better than from Starbucks or Coffee Bean. However, I'm also starting to think that I might need to look back to check how I'm doing right or wrong.
To make a long story short, I haven't had a chance to learn how to make espresso in person. What I just did is just watching tons of youtube videos and trial and error. My guild line is to make 2oz of espresso with 2 spout porta filter in 20~30 seconds with 14~ 18g beans. I know people say the coffee should look like a honey from the basket but for my case, it starts with a honey like and turns to be watery in 10 seconds. I've tried multiple different combinations(more coffee with coarse grind and less coffee with finer grind and also water temperature) but it only changes the tasty but doesn't change the amount of crema or viscosity.
I would appreciate if you know the answer about what I'm doing wrong or let me know any educational movie clips so that I can learn from it.
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Whitcoatsyndrom
Senior Member
Whitcoatsyndrom
Joined: 25 Apr 2013
Posts: 165
Location: Roanoke, VA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Office Pulser
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: Newco-OCS 12
Roaster: HG/BM
Posted Mon Mar 31, 2014, 7:42pm
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong with the setting Or missing something?
 

There are 100 different things that could be going wrong.  Although it's not a video, this is one of my favorite tutorials.  I was told about it when I was just starting and I always try to get it to others in need of some guidance too:

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

Your profile shows that you're using very capable equipment.  It sounds like your coffee is fresh (often a quick fix for problems).  Just a shot in the dark based off little info, but it sounds like your grind is too coarse.  Try this--choose a dose, tighten up the grind finer and finer (do this in increments, it will take a few shots) until you just choke the machine.  Your Mazzer should have no problem doing this and it wont hurt your machine.  When I say choke, I mean that the pump runs but no espresso exits the portafilter.  Once you reach that point, start going the other way and coarsen up the grind a tad.  Once  you are in that general area (just coarser than what choked the machine), increase or decrease the dose.  It's difficult to find the root of a problem when you are playing with multiple variables at once, as you state you're doing.  Again, this is assuming that the grind setting is your problem...it sounds like it is judging by your early blonding.  Good luck!
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,947
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 Mon Mar 31, 2014, 8:20pm
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong with the setting Or missing something?
 

+1 to Brett's post. Including probable cause and steps to take. Don't skip the hyperlink he posted. It's one of the best things out there.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,368
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 Mon Mar 31, 2014, 8:46pm
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong with the setting Or missing something?
 

Yes . . .  +2

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


Joined: 15 Apr 2010
Posts: 33
Location: San Diego, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rocket R58
Grinder: Mazzer Mini P
Posted Mon Mar 31, 2014, 9:02pm
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong with the setting Or missing something?
 

Thanks a lot for all your advices! I really appriciate!
I'm just powering the machine on to try!
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,947
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 Apr 1, 2014, 7:57am
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong with the setting Or missing something?
 

how'd it go last night?  Please keep us posted, especially if you need more help!

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


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,069
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Tue Apr 1, 2014, 9:49am
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong with the setting Or missing something?
 

Duplicate post.  See below.
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,069
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Tue Apr 1, 2014, 9:54am
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong with the setting Or missing something?
 

Freshness
No disagreement with what the other guys have said about grind adjustment, but there's some context which might or not be helpful.  That is, sometimes coffee is too fresh for espresso.  

Did yours "gush" before going completely blond and translucent?  If so the beans were probably too fresh.

That doesn't mean you can't make it behave by making a major grind adjustment in the "finer" direction; but be warned that you'll need to adjust it coarser every morning for the next couple of days.  

In addition to gushing (a function of releasing carbon dioxide gas), espresso without enough rest will taste "harsh" and "in your face."

Coffee needs to rest before it's ready for espresso, 4 days post-roast is -- IMO -- the bare minimum for coffee which has not been stored air-tight or in a sealed bag with a one way valve.  If it's been stored correctly, 5 days is marginal and 6 is better.  

FWIW, the acceptable post-roast age for properly stored coffee is days 6 - 21, with a "best" window of days 8 - 12.

Yes, 21 days violates Babbie's rule of 15s, but there you go; and remember that my calendar is based on properly stored coffee.  If you grind with beans in the hopper instead of single dosing, ideally you want to keep a couple of days worth of beans in there, and replace what you used the next day before grinding.  

But that's inconvenient. I load my grinder's hopper with about 4 days worth of coffee (12oz) at a time, but because I roast my own, and have absolute control over storage, and number of days post roast it's an acceptable system; and because I roast for 12oz yields, it's convenient as all hell.  So much for "ideal."

Brew Temperature
Go into the question of whether or not to adjust temp with an open mind whenever you change coffees.  But the majority of espresso SOs and blends balance their sweets and sours in the 199F - 201F actual brew water temperature range -- so if you're somewhere in the 198F - 202F range, you should at least be close.  And that should be of some comfort if you're not comfortable relying on your palate.  

BUT

The best way to dial-in temperature for coffee is by taste, and not by the PID's readout.  Trust your taste buds, bud.  If the coffee's bitter, the brew water is too hot.  If it's sour, the brew temp is too cold.  

Randy (aka frcn) prefers to move in small steps towards the balance point; while I prefer to "bracket" going from bitter to sour, bitter to sour, in the largest possible but increasing smaller moves, to approach the balance.  Either approach works as well and as quickly as the other -- just a matter of style.    

With a little practice, it becomes second nature and you can usually hit the mark on the second or, at most, the third try.  Usually.  

Rich
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Alonzo
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Apr 2010
Posts: 33
Location: San Diego, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rocket R58
Grinder: Mazzer Mini P
Posted Tue Apr 1, 2014, 1:42pm
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong with the setting Or missing something?
 

I 've taken the suggestion last night and dialed the grinder to the finer position and adjusted it to the other side with 14g of coffee in the basket. I could make it better, I mean no blond until cutting the water but of course it took more than 40s for 2oz espresso because originally the grinder was set for 2oz for 25second with 14g coffee. So should I take more time than like more than 30s for 2oz? Please correct me if I'm wrong.
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steamer
Senior Member
steamer
Joined: 11 Feb 2005
Posts: 893
Location: socal
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus IV R
Grinder: Mazzer Mini-B Baratza...
Vac Pot: Krubs Moka Brew, vacPot
Drip: TechV, and many more
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Tue Apr 1, 2014, 2:32pm
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong with the setting Or missing something?
 

Get your grind first, that is, use a grind setting and forget the time, measue 17 grams from that pile of grinds you over ran, then run it in the machine. If the espresso starts at about 5 second from pump on and goes to 25 sec, then your grind is fine, now adjust your time to gives you 17 grams of coffee, that could be 15-20 seconds. Once that is consistant at 17 grams, try another shot see if you get a better or equal shot of your liking, taste the espresso, see if it is right.
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