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Espresso: General Discussion
1st post and some questions
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Discussions > Espresso > General > 1st post and...  
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,675
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 Wed May 9, 2012, 5:54am
Subject: Re: 1st post and some questions
 

Tamping is the LEAST important part of the process.
You can NOT have your coffee ground for you. You MUST do it yourself JUST before brewing. You need to make minute adjustments to the grind to match the age of the beans, the day, your machine etc, you can NOT do this anyplace but in your kitchen, next to your espresso machine.

When you grind coffee, the clock is ticking, you have AT MOST 15 minutes FROM THE TIME YOU GRIND THE COFFEE to brew it. Longer than that, your coffee is stale.

Think of cutting an apple open. The meat is nice, clean and white, right? What does it look like after 15 minutes? It starts to turn brown dose it not? The EXACT same thing happens to coffee but because it is brown to start with, you do not SEE the oxidation process happening. Because each piece of ground coffee is so small, the result of oxidation is much GREATER on the coffee mass as a whole.

YOU NEED A GRINDER THAT IS ABLE TO GRIND FOR ESPRESSO. Tamping is only to compact the puck and to remove the air spaces so that it presents a uniform resistance to the water. Tamping is NOT to alter the dynamics of the grind, the GRINDER alters that. GET A GRINDER, even if it is a hand grinder, you NEED a grinder!

Perhaps I was not clear in the above. The answer to your problem is
BUY A GRINDER

 
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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wsikes
Senior Member
wsikes
Joined: 3 Oct 2011
Posts: 396
Location: West Virginia
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Promac MD-64 AT
Drip: Bunn
Roaster: Behmor
Posted Wed May 9, 2012, 6:30am
Subject: Re: 1st post and some questions
 

Erik, welcome to the forum.  I am in somewhat the same position as you are... I have a Saeco (Aroma) that uses a pressurized portafilter as it's default standard.  I pulled a few shots with the ppf but, like you, was not pleased with the crema.  I gutted the pf and am not using finer ground coffee and tamping.  I am now getting much better-tasting shots but they are still pulling too fast because my grinder is simply not up to the task of grinding for espresso.  I bought a commercial grinder off of eBay and coincidentally am expecting delivery of it today.  I am looking forward to getting ~25 second pulls and esperience the true flavor of good espresso.  Good luck with your Saeco and don't feel bad about what your girlfriend thinks... my friends all think I have gone nuts with my espresso... and they may be right!  lol.

 
Bill
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Eiron
Senior Member
Eiron
Joined: 12 Nov 2007
Posts: 343
Location: Loveland, Colorado
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill 0930
Grinder: Quick Mill 031,...
Drip: TechniVorm KBTS
Roaster: Behmor 1600, Presto Poplite
Posted Tue May 15, 2012, 11:58am
Subject: Re: 1st post and some questions
 

Erik, any new experiences to report?

Now that you've started exploring better coffee you'll soon reach your own conclusions about which equipment you'll "need" next! ;-)

Don't get discouraged, as there are many ways to enjoy a rich cup of coffee to fit just about anyone's price & interest ranges.

Keep us posted with your progress!

 
"Just what I need - another 'geek' label..."
- my friend Mark, on being told of Coffee Geek's existence

Good, affordable espresso: www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espresso/machines/355707
Coffee's hot enough for OCD: www.coffeegeek.com/forums/coffee/machines/330079
Personal & global health: http://www.broomfieldenterprise.com/ci_12802509
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CaffeineFiend
Senior Member
CaffeineFiend
Joined: 30 Nov 2011
Posts: 55
Location: Wyckoff, NJ
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Silvano
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Redbird Coffee Co.
Posted Fri May 18, 2012, 4:45pm
Subject: Re: 1st post and some questions
 

Erik,

Unfortunately for you there are only two options: spend more money, or accept that you will not be able to pull the shots you're looking for  Be careful of the former--as it can be a slippery slope.  I consider myself a coffee geek but not to the extent as some of these guys--I'm still a noob myself: but here's my take.

First everyone telling you to grind yourself is right--you can't get good espresso unless you grind right before you pull the shot.  Furthermore you need to be able to adjust the grind to how your machine works and the type of coffee you are grinding.  I find that when I switch coffees my grinder needs to be adjusted to compensate.  Too fine and it chokes the machine and no coffee comes out: and you worry about how much pressure she can take before exploding hot coffee in your face.  To coarse and your coffee will come out too fast, not extract all the flavors you want, and be watery and lack that lovely "dry" texture of a well poured shot.

Tamping is also crucial--tamping and grind size go hand in hand: tamp too hard and it will choke the machine, too light and your coffee will be weak and watery.  The truth is you will need to grind and dump several coffees until you get it right.  If you feel bad about waste dump them into a pitcher, mix in some sugar, allow it to cool, and throw it in the fridge to make iced coffee in the morning.  

If you plan on spending the money--save and get something good--do your research and ask as many questions on here as you can before spending a dime: or you'll end up wasting your money on something and having to buy something else.

I have to disagree with the time frame vs. taste of fresh roasted coffee that many coffee geeks agree with.  I actually enjoy the changing flavors as a coffee ages.  I usually buy 5 lbs at a time and freeze most of it: just keeping out a weeks worth per bag at a time--but towards the end of the bag the flavor changes: I enjoy the variations.

 
"Coffee should be black as Hell, strong as Death, and as sweet as Love."
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,023
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Sat May 19, 2012, 1:48am
Subject: Re: 1st post and some questions
 

CaffeineFiend Said:

... Tamping is also crucial--tamping and grind size go hand in hand: tamp too hard and it will choke the machine, too light and your coffee will be weak and watery.  The truth is you will need to grind and dump several coffees until you get it right ...

Posted May 18, 2012 link

calblacksmith Said:

Tamping is the LEAST important part of the process ...

Posted May 9, 2012 link

Wayne's right. I believe the importance of tamping has been somewhat overrated.

I wouldn't go as far as to say it's superfluous, but compared to grinding its influence on extraction time is minimal. Tamping with exactly 30 lb used to be the gospel, so a lot of us were actually practicing with a scale to adjust our feeling. In the end there's a physical limit to how hard you can compress the grounds, because when the coffee granules are compressed so firmly that they all touch and cannot move any closer without using a steam roller there's no sense in tamping any harder. And it doesn't matter if that is done with 20, 30 or 35 lb.

What is important is that you tamp consistently.

Also polishing the surface of the puck by spinning the tamper is just for looks, although I must admit that still do it, because I enjoy that little ritual.

calblacksmith Said:

... You can NOT have your coffee ground for you. You MUST do it yourself JUST before brewing. You need to make minute adjustments to the grind to match the age of the beans, the day, your machine etc, you can NOT do this anyplace but in your kitchen, next to your espresso machine.

When you grind coffee, the clock is ticking, you have AT MOST 15 minutes FROM THE TIME YOU GRIND THE COFFEE to brew it. Longer than that, your coffee is stale ...

YOU NEED A GRINDER THAT IS ABLE TO GRIND FOR ESPRESSO. Tamping is only to compact the puck and to remove the air spaces so that it presents a uniform resistance to the water. Tamping is NOT to alter the dynamics of the grind, the GRINDER alters that. GET A GRINDER, even if it is a hand grinder, you NEED a grinder! ...

Posted May 9, 2012 link

+1

The grinder is more important than the espresso machine. It's easier to make great espresso with a capable grinder and an entry level machine than with a crap grinder and a commercial machine.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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Allnighter
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Joined: 3 May 2012
Posts: 4
Location: Netherlands
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed May 23, 2012, 1:43am
Subject: Re: 1st post and some questions
 

Everyone, thank you for all the replies! I was checking this thread almost every day, but I never saw your replies! I was thinking "meh, nobody replies in this thread anymore". But, and here comes why I feel like a complete idiot: I never looked at page 2......so stupid of me. Oh well, happens to the best of us I guess :) So I had ample replies to catch up with this morning! I went to our local coffee shop this week and bought myself a decent tamper, so I no longer have to borrow the crappy, flimsy one from my friend. When I was at the shop, I also saw the Hario Skertron/Skeleton grinder everyone is recommending me. Looks like a nice piece of equipment and at 40 euros, reasonably affordable. I'd rather have an electric grinder of course, but buying decent one will cost me dearly, right? As for the shots, I ran out of Illy and Golden Coffee Box so I had to resort to the can of Lavazzo (also pre-ground) I had laying around. I was surprised at first, for such a cheap coffee I managed to pull some decent shots the first few times! But they got worse over time, and eventually, they all got very watery (diluted) and without crema. Right now I have some espresso ground from our local super market, that is quite decent but still nothing compares to the Illy I first had. I also noticed how much cheaper beans are compared to pre-ground coffee, and the huge variaty of beans they have at the local coffee-lovers-store. I really want to buy a grinder now!
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,023
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Wed May 23, 2012, 6:49am
Subject: Re: 1st post and some questions
 

Go for the Hario Skerton!

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,966
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 Wed May 23, 2012, 7:21am
Subject: Re: 1st post and some questions
 

Allnighter Said:

...I ran out of Illy and Golden Coffee Box so I had to resort to the can of Lavazzo (also pre-ground) I had laying around. I was surprised at first, for such a cheap coffee I managed to pull some decent shots the first few times! But they got worse over time, and eventually, they all got very watery (diluted) and without crema....

Posted May 23, 2012 link

yes, this is the problem with well-packaged pre-ground coffee.  It starts out great, because right when you open it, it's still fresh.  however, it oxidizes (and stales) very quickly so you think it's not the coffee, but something you're doing.

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


Joined: 13 Feb 2012
Posts: 31
Location: Baltimore
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Jun 4, 2012, 5:03am
Subject: Re: 1st post and some questions
 

Hoi Erik,

I have the Hario grinder that I use at the office and wouldn't recomend it for espresso. There are probably only 1 or 2 usable settings in the espresso range, which is not enough. And if you don't mod it, there are issues with producing a consistant grind at the finer settings.
If using the ppf it will not be very important as the pressure does not rely on the coffee puck having just the right resitance. But as soon as you drop the ppf and move into the espresso world it will all be about the grinder producing consistent results and having enough steps to be able to fine tune the flow into the 25s range.

So probably the best you can do is look at a second hand decent electric grinder that will set you back around 100 EUR and will last you a long time.
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