I just successfully removed the pressurization components from my Barista's portafilter. Unfortunately, I haven't purchased my grinder (likely Preciso) yet and the only espresso I have is preground Lavazza (in that vacuum can). Nonetheless, I was getting tired of the pressurized PF and since removing the components was so simple, I figure I can always go back. I figure there is a slight chance the preground Lavazza might be the right consistency, although it's likely too fine. At any rate, this will allow me to play with dose & tamp pressure (I currently have a crappy tamper that is too small, but it's still a start!). If the espresso is nasty and/or I can't seem to get it dialed, I can always reinstall the pressurization components, then pull the trigger on my grinder, tamper, etc. At least I can now experiement a bit and learn more...
I just puled my first shot with my now, non-pressurized PF. I didn't quite have enough Lavazza espresso left, but put what I had in my dry basket, tamped lightly with my lightweight, too small (moved it around the perimeter), convex aluminum tamper (freebie) and hit the 'brew' button. Extraction was quicker than I expected (thought I might choke the machine) and a bit watery. Nonetheless, I still got some crema! Granted, it wasn't as much 'faux-crema' as I would've received with the pressurized PF, but the shot seemed to taste less bitter...so no regrets so far! :)
Sounds like you're making progress! The problem with pre-ground is not just being stuck with a particular grind but also the fact that coffee will be stale if not used within 15 min. of grinding. Being stale is about both the flavor being gone and the grinds being dry- which will affect the pull as well. You'll notice a big improvement in flavor when you start grinding just before you pull a shot. Cheers, Ron
Had a busy morning with my machine. Ended up making 2 (double) lattes, 1 (double) Americano, and a straight-up double espresso. Again with the vacuum sealed Lavazza, but a fresh can I opened this morning. I'm really digging using the stock PF, sans the pressurization bits. All 4 of these double shots came out over extracted though. I guess the grind is too fine, I'm over dosing, or over tamping. It's definitely not over tamping though, as I'm barely using any force. The grind can be too fine but I can't adjust that (yet). I think I'll weigh my dose for the next shots I pull to ensure I'm around 14g (or slightly over). Perhaps I should also invest in shot glasses with 1 (& maybe 2) ounce line? I used my BlackBerry's stopwatch to time them and IIRC, the shortest extraction was 35 seconds. They all started out with just drips, however a few of them transitioned into nice rats' tails. Oh, and all shots had beautiful crema. However, as you can imagine, based on my lengthy extractions, the straight-up double I tasted left a bit to be desired!
Long time no updates, coffeegeeks! OK, I'm happy to report I'm well on my way...I've since purchased a Baratza Vario, fresh roasted, organic espresso blend beans, bottomless portafilter, single basket (for non-pressurized PF's), Chris King 53mm tamper, and 1oz. marked shotglasses. I've also re-purposed my cycling components gram scale. Suffice to say I've been having fun...and drinking a lot of espresso lately. :)
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