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Vario lately producing gushers no matter where I put the Micro
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Discussions > Espresso > Grinders -... > Vario lately...  
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IMAWriter
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IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,882
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Tue Sep 3, 2013, 11:05am
Subject: Re: Vario lately producing gushers no matter where I put the Micro
 

Chanty Said:

Can I ask what type of scale you use to weigh your dosages?   I only make 2- double shots per day so hopefully there is a very small, not so expensive scale out there?  Thanks.

Posted September 3, 2013 link

There are some swell scales priced under $20 on Amazon.com.
You want to make sure it can read to at least .o (tenths) of grams, not just grams.
Smart purchase for sure!
Yes, try and get your dose and tamp straightened out.

One thing not mentioned on your thread, apologies if I missed it:
How does the grind feel, when pinched between your thumb and fingers? Does it get a tiny bit "clumpy?"
It should feel a bit like sugar, but clump a bit when you rub thumb and finger together.
If it feels finer than that, then we KNOW it's the beans, your technique, or the machine.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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Chanty
Senior Member


Joined: 26 May 2005
Posts: 227
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Vario, had an MDF
Vac Pot: none
Drip: none
Roaster: I buy beans from many...
Posted Tue Sep 3, 2013, 4:18pm
Subject: Re: Vario lately producing gushers no matter where I put the Micro
 

It does feel like sugar & clump up a bit when I squeeze between my fingers.
As far as the scale,  I found one on Ebay that is:    500g x 0.1g Digital Scale Pocket
Sound good?  Thanks.
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brianl
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Dec 2012
Posts: 476
Location: Chicago IL
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Vetrano DB
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: chemex
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Sep 4, 2013, 6:32am
Subject: Re: Vario lately producing gushers no matter where I put the Micro
 

Chanty Said:

It seems that it may be the dosing.  I hope so cuz that would really cut down the variables in my issue.  There seem to be so many variables in getting that great shot.   I have a Gaggia Classic espresso machine so as you already know it uses the 58 tamper.  Where did you find your 58.3 tamper?  Expensive?  Tight fit?  Thanks!

Posted September 3, 2013 link

The diameter varies by basket, not machine. Each basket is different and that's why i stick with vst as they are all pretty much the same size.
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Chanty
Senior Member


Joined: 26 May 2005
Posts: 227
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Vario, had an MDF
Vac Pot: none
Drip: none
Roaster: I buy beans from many...
Posted Wed Sep 4, 2013, 10:25am
Subject: Re: Vario lately producing gushers no matter where I put the Micro
 

There is so much to learn, and I cannot believe I'm just getting past the "cusp" of the learning curve after about 15 years of making my own espresso and about 6 years of grinding my own beans.  
Can you tell me if I use a Gaggia Classic espresso machine and the double shot portafilter basket that comes with the machine--what size VST basket do I need?  As you know, since I have never used a scale to measure my beans--I have been painstakingly through trial and error figuring out my dosing.  It works about 90% of the time, but the other 10% of the time.....arghhhh.   Do I first need to figure out exactly how many grams "works" with my dosing on the double shot basket I have now AFTER I buy a scale & figure out how many grams will work & not give gushers?  I'm thinking I would be safe with the 18 gram size it comes in.  Thanks so much.
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brianl
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Dec 2012
Posts: 476
Location: Chicago IL
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Vetrano DB
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: chemex
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013, 7:27am
Subject: Re: Vario lately producing gushers no matter where I put the Micro
 

If you're not happy with the stock gaggia classic basket (I wasn't), I see no reason to stick with it unless you're just curious how you've been doing it in the past. I'm glad you bought a scale. I have recommended it to all my friends, coffee fiends or not, as i actually find it quicker than going by volume anyways.

The VST baskets are pretty pricey but worth it in my opinion. YMMV of course. I have a 15g ridged and a 18g ridgless. The two sizes give you different tastes and I more often go by the later. I know not too long ago VST had a buy one get one free sale. I have also heard of people ordering two and VST sending in a freebe. I recommend ordering multiple at a time if you're interested. Then you can either buy a custom reg barber at 58.3 or 58.4mm for tons of money or a cafelat designed specifically for the VST for about 66 shipped (foreign company to the US).
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Chanty
Senior Member


Joined: 26 May 2005
Posts: 227
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Vario, had an MDF
Vac Pot: none
Drip: none
Roaster: I buy beans from many...
Posted Fri Sep 6, 2013, 10:57am
Subject: Re: Vario lately producing gushers no matter where I put the Micro
 

You said, "I have a 15g ridged and a 18g ridgless. The two sizes give you different tastes and I more often go by the later".    This is what I do not get at all, and so far no one has been able to explain it where I "get it".   The 15g vs. the 18g or 16g or 17g for that matter.  I'm going to  try and pick my coffee guy's brain some more.  This is what I don't get.  Today starts the first day I weigh on a scale.  Before, as I mentioned on the previous post; I eyeballed the amount using a 1/4 measuring cup.  It would be mounded like a little mountain in my portafilter when done grinding.  I would clunk the portafilter on the counter & the "mountain" would fall.  I would then tamp it hard.  After tamping, the level of the ground coffee would be just a little bit below the inside of the portafilter.  If I had LESS than that after tamping---I ended up having gushers.  I always thought it was that my grind was not fine enough.  Maybe that still is the case, but not ALL of the time....   Then when I had more  than that amount (almost to the top of the inside rim of my basket) in my portafilter, I would choke the machine.  
I saw my coffee guy use my basket and only about 16g.   After tamping, his ground beans were LOWER than mine were in the portafiltler.  I was thinking, "How can this not be a gusher?"   He made the best tasting cappuccino that I have ever tasted in my life with the most wonderful crema.   I am trying so hard to do this as perfect as I can.  What bearing does the grams have on the flavor.  To me the grams= where the coffee ends up in your portafilter (higher/lower).   To me, too low always meant gushers, too high meant chokes.  Please, to have a number of opinions would really help me.
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Chanty
Senior Member


Joined: 26 May 2005
Posts: 227
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Vario, had an MDF
Vac Pot: none
Drip: none
Roaster: I buy beans from many...
Posted Sat Sep 7, 2013, 7:22pm
Subject: Re: Vario lately producing gushers no matter where I put the Micro
 

I went to a coffee café and bought a 1/2 lb. of supposedly fresh beans.  I didn't want to play around and waste my really excellent roast that I just bought. I weighed 17 grams of beans.  I don't even know how one determines that 17 grams is great tasting versus 19 grams is the BEST tasting!!  Huh??  I guess I have a brain "fart" in understanding the concept of why I have to measure/weigh my dose (14grams-19grams for a double shot basket) instead of how I have been doing it to get the right slow pour.  The way I always used to do it was put in beans in a 1/4 measuring cup for the first double shot.  If I had the beans a tad mounded in the cup too much--when ground it would touch the grouper head on my espresso machine.  I would choke the machine.  If the beans were a tad too low in the measuring cup--I would have gushers.  Normally (for the most part) I would have it in exactly at the right level.  I would get slow pours that would end up tiger striping at 25-30 seconds.   I always had my Vario with the Macro down 1 from the top (setting #2).  I would have the Micro on (for most fresh roasts) anywhere from Q to T.  I tried grinding at what Colin (Baratza guy) stated was the proper calibration----#1 on the Macro  and Q on the Micro.  I weighed the beans.  First time, 16 grams.   Used the heel of my palm & leveled ground beans off.  Then tamped & twisted.  Started blonding at about 20 seconds (tasted SOUR).  Then tried 17 grams.  Followed the above same procedure.  Started blonding again around 20 seconds.  (Still sour).    These are fresh beans.  I can't go finer than 1 on the Macro.  Q on the Micro is still fine enough (one would think) for fresh beans.
Please be kind cuz I am really trying to figure out what is going on.   I got the Vario in October of 2012.  I had the Macro set on 2(one down from the top) and the Micro for most fresh roasts would be on Q-T.  It would start normally a couple drips; then a slow pour tiger striping at 25-30 seconds.  This was with my own procedure of dosing with the 1/4 measuring cup.  It was consistent on several different roasts into December.  Then I started having the gushers/blonding at 20 or less seconds.  Then I recalibrated the Vario & it was perfect again.  Then started having the gushers in the middle of June on and off through now (September).  If it was my techniques and not the grinder--why do I have great shots pretty much of the time.  If it was the absence of using a scale and dosing the grams--wouldn't my shots be lousy 90% of the time instead of only about 40%  lately?   Thanks for any direction.
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brianl
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Dec 2012
Posts: 476
Location: Chicago IL
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Vetrano DB
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: chemex
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Mon Sep 9, 2013, 9:26am
Subject: Re: Vario lately producing gushers no matter where I put the Micro
 

Dose and Flavour: Higher doses typically give me a more winey taste and more fruity. The lower doses typically give me a more chocaltey/tobacco/etc taste. YMMV. There is no standard for best tasting and you'll have to try them all to decide.

You must use a similar coffee if you're getting similar tastes flying by the seat of your pants. Or you just had the lucky eye? The dose has nothing to do with espresso tasting sour or bitter. That just means that you didn't set the correct grind level. Generally one should adjust the grinder first and not the dose. I can dose 15, 18 or 21 and have the pour and volume be exact without it being sour or bitter. The only difference being the flavour intensity.

But Look, We are just recommending what we do that works for us. If you love your old way, continue to do it that way. You're the one who has to drink it.

I have the Vario and have it calibrated on Macro 2 instead of 1. Gives me more wiggle room but less coarse settings. Sounds like you need to do more research in the lab.
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JasinC19
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Mar 2012
Posts: 12
Location: Norfolk
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Evolution
Grinder: Gaggia MDF
Posted Mon Sep 9, 2013, 1:19pm
Subject: Re: Vario lately producing gushers no matter where I put the Micro
 

Hi, I have the same machine. I recently experienced the same issue.

After blaming my grinder and cleaning everything, what actually worked for me was cleaning my basket.

I believe a lot of the basket holes being clogged was causing an uneven flow of water and eventually channeling.

I ended up getting an HQ basket from Espresso Parts.com (6 USD), and haven't had issues since.

Hopefully this helps,
Jason
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,882
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Mon Sep 9, 2013, 8:38pm
Subject: Re: Vario lately producing gushers no matter where I put the Micro
 

I have to say, after just repairing a friends Gaggia 'Espresso" it is DEFINITELY not your Vario.
These machines overheat fast, but do not get to temperature unless you open the steam wand after 10 minutes and flush fior 5 seconds. (This is unnecessary if your Gaggia has a 3 way solenoid valve. If your shots are sour, it's that the entire machine is not up to temperature. This will also cause puddles and soggy pucks.
Finally, I discovered this machines stock basket MUST be overdosed to produce a nice slow, 25 second shot, yielding 50ml of espresso, including crema.
Ditch all baskets but the stock double for now, to eliminate variables.
Grind 21 grams slightly coarser than you do now, maybe 3-4 clicks down on the Micro lever. After the coffee is mounded in the basket, tap down once to help lower the level. Tamp 30#'s. What you want is only about 2-3 mm of clearance. My best shots come when, after removing the PF, I see a small indent from the screen.
If your beans are less than 5 days old, grind, then allow the basket with grounds to sit a minute for some gas to dissipate.

See if this helps. I'm not particularly fond of this machine, but at least I can make a latte for my daughter!

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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