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Can't make a bad espresso- Loving my new hobby.
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Discussions > Espresso > General > Can't make a bad...  
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dorkroast
Senior Member
dorkroast
Joined: 3 Oct 2012
Posts: 88
Location: CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Drip: Cheapo Melitta pourover
Roaster: Behmor, Popcorn Pumper
Posted Wed Oct 31, 2012, 9:46pm
Subject: Can't make a bad espresso- Loving my new hobby.
 

So I finally received my new Gaggia Classic.

I was a bit scared of crappy espresso. I'd purchased drinks from several local shops and the espresso was always pretty poor. Two cups were exceptionally poor and both were from local shops who roast their own beans and claim to be experts in espresso. One was bad enough that I poured it out after one sip- it was so sour there was no way I could stomach it.

So while I'm waiting the week for my machine to arrive I read all there is to read here and elsewhere. If you read the forums, it makes it sound like decent espresso is nearly impossible to make without years of experience, growing/roasting your own beans, a million dollar machine, and a PhD in bean science.

I was afraid my espresso would truly suck but was prepared to practice to make it great.

My first espresso drink was made with fairly good beans but a horrible blade grinder. The grind was uneven and the espresso was out of the machine in probably 10 seconds. I sipped it preparing to die a horrible death but it turns out it was pretty decent- actually better than anything I had purchased.

I figured maybe it was the beans....so I used some old Peets Espresso Roast beans I'd had for a couple of weeks in order to practice more. Again, still better than any espresso I had purchased, using old cheapish beans and a blade grinder.

I used my home roasted beans which had been roasted a few days earlier...again, a horribly uneven grind, 10 second shot....again, quite good.

I made my wife a mocha (her favorite drink). She's quite the critic when it comes to her drinks....she loved it, downed it, and asked for another.

I made several caps, mochas, and lattes.... all turned out really good- better than what I buy at local shops....

So now I'm just here to thank everyone for sharing their espresso knowledge. I've made some truly great drinks and am extremely happy with my purchase.

My new grinder just showed up today and I finally got it dialed in to my machine... I can't wait to play with it more and add espresso to every morning.

I hope everyone has the coffee gods smile on them, as they've smiled on me. Thanks for all the help folks!
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,051
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 Oct 31, 2012, 10:32pm
Subject: Re: Can't make a bad espresso- Loving my new hobby.
 

Congratulations on your new set-up, and I'm glad you enjoy your espresso. After all that's what really counts, that you like the taste in your cup.

However, that espresso must have been horribly underextracted. It makes you wonder about the quality of the drinks you got served at those shops you mentioned. Or maybe you just like your caffè that way better?

By the way, did you use the pressurized portafilter that comes with the Classic as a standard?

 
***
"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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hankua
Senior Member
hankua
Joined: 29 Aug 2009
Posts: 276
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Salvatore One Black
Grinder: Major, Rossi, Tanzenia,...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, CCD
Roaster: Feima 800n
Posted Thu Nov 1, 2012, 6:56am
Subject: Re: Can't make a bad espresso- Loving my new hobby.
 

Congratulations! What grinder did you get?
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,167
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Thu Nov 1, 2012, 7:50am
Subject: Re: Can't make a bad espresso- Loving my new hobby.
 

Awesome to hear, your story!  Glad we could help too.  Please stay on board here, keep us posted how your progress, ask questions, and most importantly share your experiences with other newbies.

Looking forward to hearing what grinder you got as well.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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dorkroast
Senior Member
dorkroast
Joined: 3 Oct 2012
Posts: 88
Location: CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Mazzer Mini
Drip: Cheapo Melitta pourover
Roaster: Behmor, Popcorn Pumper
Posted Thu Nov 1, 2012, 8:40am
Subject: Re: Can't make a bad espresso- Loving my new hobby.
 

Agreed  Emradguy- it was horribly underextracted, and it was still better than what I've bought locally! So I wonder what kind of swill and skill they serve up at the local places. I was surprised what with everything going against it, it was still better than any of the 4 drinks I had purchased at local places.

I didn't use the pressurized basket, I went straight to the standard double basket. I wanted to do it right from the start and not start off with a bad habit.

My new grinder is a Mazzer Mini. I was going to buy a Vario but find the Mazzer for only slightly more money and liked the sturdier construction. The thing is awesome. Easily chokes my Gaggia- I'm still working on dialing it in exactly but I'm really close to 25 seconds now, give or take 5. My problem is I'm running out of beans due to all of the drinks I've been making so I'm rotating between three different kinds of beans which is making readjustments necessary. No big deal, eventually I'll settle on one roast and be all set.

I just pulled a couple of shots for my wife that were perfect. She caught me sipping her espresso while I was frothing her milk. :)

I need to browse bean selections again now that I have my equipment. I'd like to keep roasting my own- they seem to turn out really well and ensure fresh beans when it's time to grind them. I may have to actually break down and buy and actual roaster so I can do more than a couple ounces at a time.

Again, thanks all!
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 662
Location: Calgary, AB
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3
Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A
Vac Pot: Looking to buy
Drip: Manual
Roaster: Considering?
Posted Thu Nov 1, 2012, 7:32pm
Subject: Re: Can't make a bad espresso- Loving my new hobby.
 

One thing I always had an issue with, dealing with one of the local coffee shops here...

Heat Exchanging machines are supposed to be flushed before the barista brews coffee in them, especially if they've been sitting for a while. That's so the heat exchanger can be
cooled down and all of the superheated water sitting in the heat exchanger can be flushed out through the group head.

Sometimes the espresso machine would sit there for an hour unused... Then the barista would pull a shot without flushing.... So they were brewing with steam instead of water.

No wonder why the espressos always tasted horrendously bitter... After I learned about that, it surprised me but it made sense why it was happening.

Here's a good video of what a cooling flush looks like:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=covSrPrBpdY&feature=related

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,051
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 Fri Nov 2, 2012, 12:00am
Subject: Re: Can't make a bad espresso- Loving my new hobby.
 

dorkroast Said:

... My new grinder is a Mazzer Mini. I was going to buy a Vario but find the Mazzer for only slightly more money and liked the sturdier construction. The thing is awesome. Easily chokes my Gaggia- I'm still working on dialing it in exactly but I'm really close to 25 seconds now, give or take 5. My problem is I'm running out of beans due to all of the drinks I've been making so I'm rotating between three different kinds of beans which is making readjustments necessary. No big deal, eventually I'll settle on one roast and be all set ...

Posted November 1, 2012 link

Excellent grinder! However, it's not umcommon to "waste" a few pinds before everthing runs smoothly. Do you use a digital scale for dosing? It's very important to work very concistently as far as dosing, distributing and tamping is concerned in order to be able to dial in the grinder correctly. Otherwise the right setting will vary from shot to shot.

Besides that, the required grinder setting can change from day to day (sometimes even within one day) depending on factors like humidity, aging von the beans or using the single shot basket instead of the double, for example.

 
***
"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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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,424
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 Fri Nov 2, 2012, 8:03am
Subject: Re: Can't make a bad espresso- Loving my new hobby.
 

Congratulations on the new setup.  Go forth, and enjoy!  

Where in California do you live?  (It's a big state.)

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,864
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 Nov 5, 2012, 7:44am
Subject: Re: Can't make a bad espresso- Loving my new hobby.
 

Congrats and like Jason asked, where in this state that is larger than a lot of countries, are you?

 
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: 989
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Mon Nov 5, 2012, 12:56pm
Subject: Re: Can't make a bad espresso- Loving my new hobby.
 

dorkroast Said:

If you read the forums, it makes it sound like decent espresso is nearly impossible to make without years of experience, growing/roasting your own beans, a million dollar machine, and a PhD in bean science.

Posted October 31, 2012 link

What's decent is also subjective and depends on experience.  If the bar's low it's pretty easy to exceeed.  If the bar's high it's a bit trickier.  As mentioned above, it's how you like what's in the cup that matters.
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