Posted Wed Jun 18, 2008, 6:43pm Subject: Black Cat is kicking my ass
I just got my first order of Black Cat ever and was quite excited to give it a try given all the chat on CG and HB... But it is kicking my ass from an extraction standpoint.
I usually buy my espresso beans from a local espresso bar (A Matter of Taste in Kitchener) and was just getting making 2-2.5 oz in 25 seconds down to a science on my Rocky/Silvia combo. Typically, I ground at 6, leveled my ridgeless LM-style basket, tamped (probably with 40 lbs) and got almost 3 oz. :( If I removed the PF, I had the screw impression in the pre-pulled puck, so felt confident I was packing the right amount of ground coffee in there (I don;t have scales).
So, I recently dropped the grind to 5 (with the burrs just touching) and was able to get down to 2.5 oz, but had to tamp too hard to get any less. Still, it tasted good.
Then Black Cat arrived today and I went with the same settings (5 on the grinder, level basket, 40 lb tamp). Maybe 1 oz of espresso came out! That's a surprise.
Then I went to 6 on the grinder, 30 lb tamp and I got maybe 1.25 oz.
Then I went to 7, 30 lb tamp, and still hit only 1.5 oz.
What gives? Is there really this much variation from blend to blend?? I'll admit I am a newb to serious espresso making and perhaps a bit naive, but I am on my fourth espresso this evening and have to give up or I won't get to sleep! I also fear I am wasting my precious Black Cat (ordering from Canada ain't cheap...)
So mostly I am just wondering if others have typically found this much variation when changing espresso blends? Tomorrow, I guess I'll go to 8 on the Rocky and keep tamping with my bathroom scales to make sure I am not too heavy, before it felt like I had to tamp beyond thirty to keep it to 2.5oz, now I have the opposite problem!!
Posted Wed Jun 18, 2008, 7:37pm Subject: Re: Black Cat is kicking my ass
Thanks for the reply.
They did not have a roast date, but the folks at the bar said they typically got the beans 4 or 5 days after roasting, so their pretty fresh.
The espresso bar is a good spot with baristas who actually enter competitions working there, so I have confidence in their bean's freshness: http://www.matteroftaste.ca/ Its a good spot if you are in the K-W region and the baristas are nice/helpful if you have questions.
4 steps seems big to me given that people complain that a step diff on a Rocky can mean 2-5 seconds diff in a pull (one of the main criticism of the Rocky versus a stepless).
Would an older roast typically require a finer grind and harder tamp?
The Black Cat is fresh and is the best smelling bean I have ever sniffed!
Posted Wed Jun 18, 2008, 7:52pm Subject: Re: Black Cat is kicking my ass
If you forget about the numbered settings on the grinder and just keep dialing in until you get a good 1.5 - 2 oz. double within 25-30 seconds then that should give you a good shot. You might waste a few to get it right, but it's good to not worry too much about the number of the setting. It could also be your tamping that adds to the differences in settings if it's not consistent, but Black Cat is good stuff when it's right on. If the bag you have is an Intelligentsia bag, there might be a roast date of some sort on the bar code sticker. The ones I used to see were on the bottom of the bag.
Posted Wed Jun 18, 2008, 8:22pm Subject: Re: Black Cat is kicking my ass
Okey doke, thanks for the reassurance. I guess I'll keep tweaking. BTW, I always stop the shot at 25 seconds no matter the volume. Should I keep going to 30 secs if its under 2 oz?
Also, I am trying to be more anal with my tamp since I am prolly fairly inconsistent. I have the bathroom scales in the kitchen now, driving my wife nuts!
The Intelli beans were roasted on 6/11/08 - so they are good and fresh! I also bought a pound each of Kid O and El Diablo. The Diablo is for drip, the Kid O is for espresso, but I'll wait on opening it until I am through the Black Cat.
CWL Senior Member Joined: 25 Jan 2008 Posts: 50 Location: OKC Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Mini Vivaldi II, Sirena Grinder: Super Jolly, Ascaso iMini
Posted Thu Jun 19, 2008, 4:57am Subject: Re: Black Cat is kicking my ass
I just started drinking Black Cat myself. The first 2lbs. I got in where great. The second time around I don't know what happend but something was way off. I could not get it dialed in. If you look at some of the post others had the same problem. I really like Black Cat but have moved to BareFoot for a few weeks. I will try another order of Black cat soon though.
Posted Thu Jun 19, 2008, 8:46pm Subject: Re: Black Cat is kicking my ass
Yeah, the Rocky is clean. By burrs touching I mean that ever so faint "chick chick" you get when dialing it down. Its what I consider one before my zero.
Barrett: Are you saying that if it takes 40 seconds to pull, that's okay as long as it isn't blonding? Are am I being too extreme.
I am struggling to dial the BC in right: Grinder on 10, 30 lbs pressure, things are flying and I had 2.5 oz at around 18 seconds. Grinder on 8, 30 lbs pressure, ~1.75oz (the closest I can get). So should I do this and just extract for 30 seconds to get the 2 oz? (Watching for blonding)
Theoretically, yeah. For a shot not to go blond in forty seconds it would have to be an uber-ristretto. I've had shots that I ground the coffee so fine that it didn't blond until after a minute. The tiny amount of liquor was very smooth, but so concentrated that it almost burnt my tongue. Yeah, though, use time only as a reference.
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