AlexEssex Senior Member Joined: 14 Jul 2012 Posts: 7 Location: Essex Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Sat Jul 14, 2012, 5:59am Subject: Grinding help in plain English....
I am a coffee newbie whom owns a rather useless domestic DeLonghi Espresso Machine, but intends to update this in August. However, I have just bought an Ascaso I-mini grinder that I am very happy and pleased with and I glad that I am now on the path to decent coffee. However, as a newbie I have a few questions and thoughts that I would like to share with you so that you can tell me just how wrong I am and correct me. Here are my thoughts.
I assume the the courser the grind, the weaker the espresso, and the easier the espresso is to pour through the porterfilter, there is also reduced crema.
The finer the grinder, the slower it pours through the porterfilter due to more pressure, but a more intense and consistent espresso shot with good crema.
Its finding the mix between course and fine to produce a shot or double shot of espresso at either 7g or 14g. A 7g shot should produce a shot (or 1oz) of espresso with good crema.
However, when measureing up a 14g double shot and extracting the espresso I am finding that I can get a good double shot with good crema, however the ground coffee is very sloppy in the portafilter after use, and I do not get a puck, just sloppy mush...but good espresso (if I am allowed to call it espresso).
So, Is it finding the right balance of fine and course to produce a perfect shot with good crema without the sloppy mush left over in the portafilter. Is a sloppy mush of coffee due to being too fine or too little ground coffee in the portafilter.
I know that my machine is a big problem but I should be able to get a puck of coffee surely.
Can someone put this in clear english where I am going wrong, and what I need to do or think about to improve my espresso making (i feel guilty using the word espresso as I know my machine is not making this, just something like this)....
Im not too sure if the basket is pressurised or not.
I tamp the ground coffee using the inbuilt plastic tamper on the machine, a firm push and a little twist.
I have a 7g measuring spoon, so I fill this up twice for a double espresso.
On the portafilter the espresso exits via two shoots (left and right) the right side generally pours out and the left side just drips as I extract the espresso.
For a single shot, I count to 9 seconds, and for a double I count to 18 seconds and then press the stop button, this is how I work out an espresso shot.
If I make the grind courser the espresso pours out pretty quick but the crema is limited, If I make the grind finer I find that the espresso just 'drips' (not pours) but the crema is much better, but because of the dripping it takes alot longer to extract the espresso.
Either way I am still not getting a 'puck' after extraction, just a mushy basket of ground wet coffee (like wet sand).
When I add 14g ground coffee to the portafilter basket, after being tamped down there is probably a 5mm gap between the top of the ground tamped coffee and rim of the portafilter.
Also when the machine is warming up or after extracting espresso my machine constantly drips water unless I turn the machine off.
Can anyone offer any thoughts to my situation, what can I do to improve this. I know that my machine is naff and on its way out, I can only assume that my machine is to blame and not the grind.
Posted Sat Jul 14, 2012, 2:43pm Subject: Re: Grinding help in plain English....
I used a Delonghi EC701 for years which looked quite similar. That was before I even lurked here on CG. Almost all of these similar Delonghi machnes use the same pump, internals, and PF. I gave you a post that shows the PF broken down and it is pressurized, and you can read about pressurized PF.
Though I know better now, I used preground beans. They worked to make crema, somewhat because of the pressurized PF. The trouble is, one grind was too coarse and the next too fine. Exactly as you described too fast or just drips. There are several threads about grinding and grinders. The proper grind makes or breaks the espresso machine and would be barista.
Posted Tue Jul 17, 2012, 8:19am Subject: Re: Grinding help in plain English....
There's lots to say about your current setup, problems with pressurized pfs, grind, mush, etc. Some of it has already been said. Most of the rest probably doesn't need to be said, since you're getting a new machine in a few weeks.
Have you decided what you're getting?
Are you planning on buying a real tamper? Not that the tamp is very importatn, but you do want to present the group with a decent dry puck to start with, so you don't get channeling.
Regarding your gush or drip shots, it sounds like you're overadjusting. In other words, if you're getting drips instead of a steady stream, you shoud go more coarse, but in smaller increments. Your shots should be on the order of about 25-30 seconds (as a general guideline). It actually doean't matter whether that's for a single, double or triple.
As far as measured shot timing, dose size, etc...let your taste decide. That's what it's all about isn't it? Getting good tasting espresso.
. Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
AlexEssex Senior Member Joined: 14 Jul 2012 Posts: 7 Location: Essex Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Wed Jul 18, 2012, 4:12am Subject: Re: Grinding help in plain English....
I have had some improvements.
Because I have only had my Ascaso grinder for about a week, I haven't really had the chance to have a good play with it and understand how the machine works. Yesterday I had a hour or so of grinding, playing with settings and making so much espresso that I didn't know what to do with it all.
I finally have a grind that I am very happy with it, not too course and not too fine, It doesn't drip and only pours, the result is a nice golden crema. I am using Costa Coffee Mocha Italia beans, the reason being is that I work for Whitbread who owns Costa coffee so I get 25% discount on everything (beans included). I get a 250g tin of beans for £2.99 which isn't bad (plus I get to drink Costa coffee at home). I am thinking of buying the Monin syrup selection pack to experiment with, Costa sell the syrup so I get a discount on that too.
Back to the grinder....
I am glad that I bought the black powder coated alum grinder instead of the ABS one, as the grounds do get stuck in the shoot, this is overcome by tapping on the back of the machine. I was afraid that tapping on the ABS grinder will break it..... as I have the alum grinder it is rock solid and wont break. All grounds that I 'tap' from the machine go into a small storage container so that I don't waste any coffee (this can be added to the next grind of coffee).
I have worked out the general height of the tamped coffee in the portafilter at 2 shots, I have scratched a small mark on the inside of the basket which represents two shots, this has given pretty consistent results. A simple but effective idea that works. I only use costa coffee beans so this provides consistency.
I have noticed that there is no sludge now from the portafilter and that the ground coffee is alot drier. I do agree about the drainage issue with pressurised portafilers, you do need to let it fully drain before removing the grounds. Sludge or no sludge, either way, its just ground coffee, it needs to come out either way. So I have learnt not to be over concerned about it. As long as the coffee tastes good....and I mean really good then I am happy.
To be honest the Delonghi EC710 is not a bad machine. Considering I paid £169 for it two and a half years ago, its done me pretty well considering I have used it almost every day (3 cups a day maybe on average). Most people that have the machines don't even use them at a fraction of what I have used, and generally have them to make their kitchens look pretty.
I am getting a new machine very soon (and I cant wait). I generally do like Ascaso products so will probably buy the Ascaso ARC or Dream as it is within my budget.
No one has chimed in about this, so here goes. You are gauging your shots incorrectly. The time to pull a shot of espresso (%50 brew ratio, dose weight/shot weight) should be in the neighborhood of 24 seconds. A single should be pulled using a single basket and a double with a double basket etc. So as a basic outline of how your double espresso shot should go:
14g in the basket, steam of espresso turns blond and somewhat translucent after 24 seconds at which time you turn of the machine, 28g of espresso in the cup
This is not a forumla for a good shot, just a set of guidelines for getting a feel for what pulling a shot should be like. There is no other way to convey the notion of flow rate. Things change from machine to machine, grinder to grinder, and roast to roast. I don't know what a pressurized PF is and isn't capable of, so I can't comment on your shot quality.
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