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Magic Machine
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Discussions > Espresso > General > Magic Machine  
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espressotweek
Senior Member
espressotweek
Joined: 13 Aug 2003
Posts: 117
Location: Florida
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Francis Francis X5
Grinder: Rocky - doserless
Posted Fri Dec 5, 2003, 6:56am
Subject: Magic Machine
 

Hey Gang,

Lastnight I came to a horrible realization. That I have only pulled one great shot from my machine since I have had it. Every other shot I have pulled is either bitter or sour to some extent. Most of them are tollerable but not the quality I was hoping for when I got into this. Now, my girl has advised me that my expectations for a home machine are too high and that I will never be able to duplicate a commercial machine shot, no matter what beans I use or how fresh or what grinder or whatever. So I was thinking, is there a  
"Magic Machine" out there? one of semi commercial quality that I will get that shot from? I tell you what, I am at the point where I will give all this up and quit if I can not start pulling good shots... So, lets here what you think?
I would really like to know.  Also, that one great shot I mentioned, it was pulled right after I had cleaned the machine with some "Clean cafe" and had run about 2 water tanks through it. and yes, I tried this lastnight "the water running through again" and no luck.

Thanx,

E.
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HB
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Apr 2003
Posts: 2,913
Location: Cary, NC
Posted Fri Dec 5, 2003, 7:24am
Subject: Re: Magic Machine
 

There's lots of Magic Machines out there.  The major difference I've seen so far is how hard the operator must work to extract that Magic.  Mark's review of the Francis! Francis! X3 certainly gives one hope:

The Final Word
The Francis! Francis! X3 surprised me, and in many ways redeemed F! F!. For its target market, performance, looks and ability, it gets an 8 out of 10.

BTW, I disagree with your girlfriend.  After a lot of practice, my "average" shot trumps all but the best cafés in my area.  I owe a lot of my success to this board.  Bundle together a few tweaks and the cumulative result can be surprising.  Patience, practice, and attention to detail is all it requires.

-- Dan

 
www.home-barista.com
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espressotweek
Senior Member
espressotweek
Joined: 13 Aug 2003
Posts: 117
Location: Florida
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Francis Francis X5
Grinder: Rocky - doserless
Posted Sat Dec 6, 2003, 12:32am
Subject: Re: Magic Machine
 

I just checked the brew temp on my machine by putting my needle therm in the stream and it read 140 at the highest. then I put it in the bowl of water I was pouring into and it read 150 at the highest. So I know this is no where near accurate but it does give me some indication that I am not at the proper temp. Correct?

E.
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HB
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Apr 2003
Posts: 2,913
Location: Cary, NC
Posted Sat Dec 6, 2003, 5:50am
Subject: Re: Magic Machine
 

Maybe.  I use the Styrofoam cup technique described in My Espresso is Cold! and I read 198-202F.  When I've tried the same thing pouring into a preheated cup it wouldn't go over 180F.  Some have suggested stuffing a sponge into the portafilter (without basket) and snaking the thermocouple wire through the pour spout to get a more precise measurement.  I haven't tried it since I'm more interested in repeatability than precise temperatures.

Keep in mind that all machines need some recovery time.  If you want reasonable repeatability, waiting three minutes between measurements has given me consistent results.

-- Dan

 
www.home-barista.com
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espressotweek
Senior Member
espressotweek
Joined: 13 Aug 2003
Posts: 117
Location: Florida
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Francis Francis X5
Grinder: Rocky - doserless
Posted Sat Dec 6, 2003, 7:57am
Subject: Re: Magic Machine
 

Dan,

Thanks for the help so far, I think, I hope that this the problem. So I am going to get a styrofoam cup and give it a try. Now, when you say "ascetain the boiling point for your thermometer by placing it into boiling water. My thermometer is a small "Quisipro" I bought from Illy, will this do for the test? here is a pix.  Just let me know.

Thanx,

E.

espressotweek: cuisipro_thermometer.jpg
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HB
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Apr 2003
Posts: 2,913
Location: Cary, NC
Posted Sat Dec 6, 2003, 9:00am
Subject: Re: Magic Machine
 

espressotweek Said:

My thermometer is a small "Quisipro" I bought from Illy, will this do for the test?

Posted December 6, 2003 link

Sure, just be certain to "calibrate" it first in boiling water (212F).  I have a similar thermometer and it's off by almost ten degrees (water boils at 220? I think not!).  I suppose that it really doesn't matter as long as it's consistent, but helps when comparing temperatures with others.  These types also don't react as quickly as thermocouple / digital thermometers, so here's a hint: Rest it in the last blank shot of hot water and empty it just before pulling the next measurement.  That way the stem is already very close to the correct temperature.  Otherwise a cool, slow thermometer will register a few degrees off the actual temperature.  I've had a lot of success with this approach.  This morning's first shot was a good as the second.  :-)

-- Dan

 
www.home-barista.com
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TazLady
Senior Member


Joined: 6 Dec 2003
Posts: 2
Location: Indiana
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sat Dec 6, 2003, 9:37am
Subject: Re: Magic Machine
 

Hello !    I have a Proctor Silex Coffee Maker at home, and it is the kind that you can program with a clock.  Could someone please tell me how to get it to program ?  I know how to set the clock,  just not sure I understand the program part.   Any light that you can shed on this would be great.

Thank you !     Taz Lady
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mise_en_place
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Nov 2002
Posts: 113
Location: NY

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus II
Grinder: Pasquini Moka; Rocky DL
Drip: Technivorm CDGT
Roaster: Intelligentsia
Posted Sat Dec 6, 2003, 10:41am
Subject: Re: Magic Machine
 

Taz Lady,

Go to:   http://www.proctor-silex.com/

look up your model # and down load the PDF manual.

Tom
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espressotweek
Senior Member
espressotweek
Joined: 13 Aug 2003
Posts: 117
Location: Florida
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Francis Francis X5
Grinder: Rocky - doserless
Posted Sat Dec 6, 2003, 9:03pm
Subject: Re: Magic Machine
 

Dan,

I just went out and bought a digital thermometer so I could get the best results possible. I am a bit of a freak when it comes to my espresso "gee thats odd" lol.
Anyway, I just ran 3 shots wit a few minutes between each of them and the results were, the 1st shot read 160 - 161 degrees, that was with the thermometer im a single stream. The other 2 shots both read 170 degrees right on the money. this was with the thermometer in both streams. So I am assuming that that is what I am pouring at and this is infact the problem. What do you think? sound right? let me know.

Thanx,

E.
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HB
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Apr 2003
Posts: 2,913
Location: Cary, NC
Posted Sat Dec 6, 2003, 10:02pm
Subject: Re: Magic Machine
 

espressotweek Said:

I am a bit of a freak when it comes to my espresso "gee that's odd" lol.

Posted December 6, 2003 link

Gee, nobody like that hangs out on this board.  :-o

As an aside, below is a reasonable digital thermometer ($19 at Williams-Sonoma) that fills the bill.  I like it because it has a "calibrate" button to compensate for a temperature measurement shift (unlike my dial thermometer that reads boiling water as 220F), plus it switches between F and C.  Anyway, holding a thermometer in the stream is horribly inaccurate, even worse than in-an-espresso-cup temperatures.  That said, I would expect in the 170F range if the grouphead temperature was in the ballpark and about 180F in-cup if it's well heated (IOW, it is "normal" to loose heat to the air, coffee, portafilter, and cup).  I suggest you get yourself a comfortable chair, a timer, a Styrofoam cup pierced with your new thermometer and try 5-6 measurements of two ounces at three minute intervals without the portafilter and the cup held tightly to the grouphead.  For bonus points, keep the thermometer in the hot water between measurements as I mentioned before.

BTW, I was exchanging e-mails with a lurker discussing a similar problem.  Compare their results at one minute intervals:

   210, 210, 209, 208, 207, 206, 205, 206, 206, 205

This is an Expobar (HX) and obviously it's overheated.  And even after 10 blank shots, it's still over 205F.  No surprise, the shots are bitter.  Turning the pressurestat down 1/2 turn gave these measurements:

   200, 201, 201, 199, 198, 198, 197, 197, 197, 196, 196

Better, but now tending a bit toward the cool end.  However, I believe that the one-minute interval is likely driving the temperature artificially low.  I use three minute intervals, if only because most agree that an HX machine can start to overheat after five minutes, so three minutes is the midpoint.  Here's the same trial on my machine this afternoon, for sake of comparison, at three minute intervals:

  202, 203, 203, 202, 203, 202, 200, 201, 202

The difference is that I pulled a six ounce flush to cool the grouphead before starting.  I've been going through this "flush calibration" because I'm trying out a different grouphead diffusion screen that's made out of a thick brass disk instead of a standard E61 screen.  It is throwing off the flush amount (normally my machine requires a four ounce cooldown flush).  

If you've read this far, you might be saying to yourself about now, "That's nice Dan, but what does it have to do with my problem?"

Well, you should do the same thing, but it will only be to reassure yourself that your temperature controller is working, since your F!F! can't be temperature regulated (sans surfing).  I'm curious what you find, since Mark's review of the Francis! Francis! X3 says it is well capable:

...the temperature was very stable in three tests done over three different days, when running water through an empty portafilter. Once ground coffee was in, there was more fluctuation in the results, but they were still within good brewing temps (around 198 to 200F).

Of course, yours is the X5, which Mark briefly mentions in the introduction:

More machines in the X lineup have shown up, including the X2, which is essentially two X1s, merged; the X4, which is a super high tech, temperature controllable automatic machine; the X5, which is Francis! Francis! version of a budget machine; and the X3, the third machine introduced by the company.

This is where I blank out, not knowing if your model compares favorably to the X3 that Mark reviewed.  The calibration test that I suggest above would answer that question (barring enlightenment from knowledgeable F!F! aficionados).  I have the sneaking suspicion that the problem doesn't lie in the temperature, but rather beans that are lame, overextracted pull, etc.

-- Dan

HB: taylor-digital-thermo.jpg
(Click for larger image)

 
www.home-barista.com
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