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need help with technique
Rocket R58 Double Boiler
Rocket Espresso R58 Double Boiler -  Everything you need for the perfect shot!
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Senior Member

Joined: 14 Nov 2013
Posts: 3
Location: State College
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Nov 14, 2013, 6:33pm
Subject: need help with technique

I recently bought a Rocky grinder and have been experimenting with an old but functioning cheap single boiler machine it for the past week. I created a video of my process and am looking for feedback about shot volume, time, crema,  and technique. Please let me know if you have any advice through the youtube comments or the forum. The link is below


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Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,083
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 15, 2013, 12:00am
Subject: Re: need help with technique

The flow of that shot didn't look good, and the espresso was probably overextracted. You should have a mouse tail flow. Does the machine still have its pressurized portafilter?

  1. The Rancilio Rocky is capable of consistently grinding fine enough for espresso, therefore you can pull great shots with it. It's also rock solid and durable. BUT the Rocky is a stepped grinder with all its disadvantages, and the steps are pretty wide. Therefore, when you try to dial in the Rocky correctly, you can end up stuck in between two steps, i.e. one setting is too coarse and the next too fine for proper extraction, because the ideal setting would be in between these two steps. You might try to tamp differently to some effect, but the only way to really compensate this shortcomming is to adjust your dose accordingly, which can alter taste significantly. That's why a stepless grinder is much better.
  2. Dosing by visual judgement alone, you will not have a consistent amount of groung coffee in your filter basket, which makes it hard to get consistent espresso quality. Use a scale capable of measuring 0.1 g.
  3. Get a decent tamper.

"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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Joined: 25 Nov 2007
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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 Fri Nov 15, 2013, 7:05am
Subject: Re: need help with technique

There are so many variables in the process that you do not provide enough information to say much more than what Nobby said.
How old is your coffee, what is the roast level, what is the weight of your dose, is the PF still pressurized.

You seriously need a better tamper but if the PF is still pressurized then the point is moot.

In case you have never heard them, to get started, the rule of thumb is

for a double shot:
14 to 18 G of grounds (depending on the size of your basket, the PF, and how you like you espresso)
Tamp to about 30# of pressure, the exact number is not important but being consistent is.
Brew water at 195 to 205 F
Brew pressure at ~9 bar
1.5 to 2 fl oz volume in 25 to 30 seconds from a NON pressurized PF including crema
Beans that are not older than two weeks FROM THE DAY THEY WERE ROASTED!!!!!!!!!!! If there is a best by or a use before date on the bag, they beans were stale long before you bought them.

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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Joined: 22 Jun 2010
Posts: 1,869
Location: North Carolina
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: QM Silvano, LP Stradivarius,...
Grinder: K30, Major, Preciso, Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Sunbeam C30, Bodum Santos...
Drip: Bonavita BV-1800,...
Roaster: Behmor, Melitta, Fresh...
Posted Fri Nov 15, 2013, 7:32am
Subject: Re: need help with technique

Clearly the basket is not pressurized, so much mentioned above is moot...

Tamper is fine - I have other ones but still use the same thing more often than not. I heard big bubbles in crema = overextracted.

How does the shot taste?

I chew coffee beans with my teeth while gargling with 195 F water to enjoy coffee. What is this "coffee brewing" device you speak of?
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Senior Member

Joined: 14 Nov 2013
Posts: 3
Location: State College
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Sun Dec 15, 2013, 11:48pm
Subject: Re: need help with technique

Thanks guys, it is a non-pressurized pf. I've since taken your advice and bought a scale capable of .1 gram increments, using coffee from a local roaster and tamping harder. The result is 1oz singles in 25 seconds with a lot of crema. The shots taste much less bitter, still slightly bitter, and have a subtle dark chocolate taste. I'm sticking with that stock plastic tamper because once I upgrade my machine (Silvia??) I will need a larger tamper anyway.
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Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,683
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Mon Dec 16, 2013, 10:45am
Subject: Re: need help with technique

The shot is visibly, obviously, massively under-extracted.  The give-away is that the stream never gets color.  A stream from an over-extracted shot would progress from dark to light to transparent.  Yours started transparent, and stayed that way for the way too brief duration of the shot.  

Your grind is almost certainly way too coarse.  It's quite likely that you're tamping too lightly as well; especially considering the grind.  

To fix the problem, start by adjusting your Rocky to the point where -- with a "firm" tamp -- it chokes the machine.  Then adjust it in one click increments until you get a reasonable flow.  The noob standard for reasonable flow is "2 ounces in 25 - 30sec."  (There are reasons why that's not a particularly good metric for good baristas, but you're not there yet.  So for now, let's stick with "the standard" and move on to a discussion of brew ratio and yield later. )  

The under-extraction is independent of many other technique generated problems you may have.  

Subsequent, Improved Shot:
You bought a high-resolution scale, but didn't say how much your dose weighed, and gave its final output as volume (1oz) rather than as weight.  Although I accept your opinion that the shot is "better," it's difficult to asses it without more information.  

Not scolding.  Better is definitely better, a good thing, and a step along the way to good.  
"Bitter" usually means the brew water is too hot.  The exceptions include the inherent bitterness of coffee in general, the inherent bitterness of espresso in particular, the inherent nature of a particular bean or blend, confusing "bitter" with "aggressive," or a few other things.  

Part of the barista's craft is controlling temperature to find the optimal (or at least desired) balance of "bitter" with "sour" for a given bean.  

This is done through the "dialing in" process, which is something you should do every time you change beans.  If the initial pull tastes bitter, adjust your temperature four or five degrees cooler and see if the balance doesn't move a long way towards "sour."  Then continue to adjust the temperature in finer iterations until you reach the right balance.

Any time the question is "Silvia?" the answer is almost certainly "No."

One reason is that a Silvia is an obsolete Single Boiler Dual Use design machine.  Obsolete even though many people cut their teeth on them and many people are still using them.

SBDUs have a number of weaknesses.  Chief among them is that any SBDU which isn't modified to include a PID is darn near impossible to temp accurately and consistently.  And temping -- as you already know -- is one of the fundamental tools in the barista's kit for getting a good tasting shot.  

The solution to this particular problem is not to buy a modded Silvia ($640) because other machines which can be temped, and which are much friendlier in other ways as well, are available for very close to the same price; e.g., the Crossland CC1 ($700).  

Of course, the $1000 dollar level has some even better machines, like the QM Silvano, NS Oscar, and Breville Double Boiler.  The BDB is particularly friendly and feature loaded, but may give up some build quality to the Silvano and Oscar.  

If you want to get anywhere near the most out of a better espresso machine, you'll need to upgrade your grinder as well.  The Rocky is also obsolete as a quality espresso grinder, as a very fine degree of control -- much finer than a Rocky is capable of -- is as important a part of dialing in as temping.  At $300, the Baratza Preciso is much better than the Rocky; and at $450, the Baratza Vario is actually good.  

Are You Ready to Rumble?
You may not be ready to make the move yet, but just as an FYI Seattle Coffee Warehouse is packaging a CC1 + Vario combo for $1000 which is the best "entry level" deal I've heard of in a long time.  

It's not an ultimate combo, but is good enough to keep you happy for years.  Unless, that is, you catch the bug.

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