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Adjusting Baratza Preciso for Taste
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Latteppuccino
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Jan 2014
Posts: 2
Location: New Jersey
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Jan 7, 2014, 12:16pm
Subject: Adjusting Baratza Preciso for Taste
 

I've had the Preciso for a few weeks now, but I'm having trouble with the adjustments. I've been using homebarista.com's guide to dialing in your grinding and dosing, but I'm not sure if their method works with a grinder like the Preciso. They say decreasing the dose and grinding finer coffee will make shot strong and more bitter. Increasing the dose and grinding coarser coffee, however, will bring out the sugars. Their method seems designed for use with fewer adjustable settings. How can I adapt this method to the Preciso?  Do I need to change my dosing when I change my micro settings?
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pilot25
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Jan 2012
Posts: 116
Location: MD

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Preciso
Posted Wed Jan 8, 2014, 1:46pm
Subject: Re: Adjusting Baratza Preciso for Taste
 

Its the same but with finer adjustments.  Hate to say it but the micro settings are a bit of a placebo.  They make you feel better that you can micro adjust but its not that accurate of a machine.  If you click it one micro setting its like a half a bean difference in your dose.  You probably lose a bean in the machine during the grind anyway.

If you are using the homebarista methods then just use the macro adjustments to get your taste close.  Your tamp pressure will never be the exact same each time unless you are using a professional tamper and that also affects your dose to time ratio.  The micro adjustments are a marketing thing.  If it wasn't then the other manufacturers would incorporate it in their designs.

Do a test.  Get a scale and practice your tamp pressure right next to your grinder.  Push down on it a dozen times until the weight reading is exactly the smame every time.  Muscle memory your tamp pressure.  Then immediately dose 15 grams or whatever then do the shot.  Then use 15 grams and move the micro 1 click finer.  Make sure you weigh the grinds with the portafilter to make sure you are exactly the same dose.  See if you see a difference but this assumes you used the exact same tamp pressure.  The only possible differing variable would be tamp pressure if your dose is exact.  If you could make that exact you might see the difference in 1 click of a micro movement.  I bet it is maybe a half a second or less in your timing before it blonds.

Do you see what I'm getting at?  The micro adjustments are so small that the possibilities of the other variables being different negates it.  Thats why its a gitchy marketing tool.  Use the macro adjustments to get what you like in taste then use the micro to maybe get the timing within a second of your desired shot.  Again it assumes you are exact in all your other variables.  Its all part of the process in learning what you like.

Its an extremely delicate machine.  Make sure you read the threads of how to repair it when the time comes.
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Latteppuccino
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Jan 2014
Posts: 2
Location: New Jersey
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu Jan 9, 2014, 3:20pm
Subject: Re: Adjusting Baratza Preciso for Taste
 

I agree that controlling all the variables is nearly impossible, but using a consistent dose and my best tamp, I can taste a difference in my shots with different micro settings. Today I made one shot at 7H that was just a little too bitter. It was really good, nice crema--perfect timing--but it tasted a little off. I made a second shot at 7G, and I could barely taste the bitterness. If the micro steps changed nothing, no one would use a stepless grinder.
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pilot25
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Jan 2012
Posts: 116
Location: MD

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Preciso
Posted Fri Jan 10, 2014, 11:20am
Subject: Re: Adjusting Baratza Preciso for Taste
 

Latteppuccino Said:

I agree that controlling all the variables is nearly impossible, but using a consistent dose and my best tamp, I can taste a difference in my shots with different micro settings. Today I made one shot at 7H that was just a little too bitter. It was really good, nice crema--perfect timing--but it tasted a little off. I made a second shot at 7G, and I could barely taste the bitterness. If the micro steps changed nothing, no one would use a stepless grinder.

Posted January 9, 2014 link

Was your second shot the exact same timing?  Exact amount of espresso?  Its not possible to get that exact within those micro settings.  You lose enough in the grind of the precisio to negate the micro settings.  Stick your finger up the shoot.  You can pull out a half a bean just in the shoot after a grind.

That being said, if you notice a difference then press on and get the best shot you can.
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,184
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 Sat Jan 11, 2014, 8:21pm
Subject: Re: Adjusting Baratza Preciso for Taste
 

The article by Jim Schulman posted in H-B's Tips and Techniques section doesn't describe "the H-B method," it describes THE METHOD.  It will work for you and your grinder if you use it, your palate, and your grinder properly.  

Whether or not you can taste every micro step in the Preciso's progression is an entirely different issue; one we don't need to examine now.  We can also discard the idea of arbitrarily picking a dose weight like 19g and sticking to it; at least not without looking at why a particular dose would be good or bad for your basket and espresso machine.  

When it gets to the point of doing grind and dose adjustments, the easiest and best way method is "bracketing," in steps large enough where you can unambiguously taste the differences, and move -- in successive iterations of ever smaller adjustments -- to the combination of grind and dose which brings out the best in the bean.  

You wrote your question without enough detail about what's going on for me to offer any particular advice.  There are a lot of things besides grind and dose which can move espresso in one direction or another between bitter, sour, and sweet -- coffee type, coffee freshness, brewing temp, height of the coffee column (aka "head space"), flow rate, etc.  

So... what's going on?

BDL
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pilot25
Senior Member


Joined: 7 Jan 2012
Posts: 116
Location: MD

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Preciso
Posted Sun Jan 12, 2014, 7:11pm
Subject: Re: Adjusting Baratza Preciso for Taste
 

All very valid but with the Silvia sans pid and pressure gauge you are kinda limited in your variables.  You don't really know the temp or pressure unless you build a portafilter pressure gauge and/or install a gauge.  Therefore you have to limit yourself to the variables the OP can control.  The silvia is definitely challenging to get a good shot.  You have a $3k machine vs. our $600 one.  There is no way we will achieve what you do in terms of getting to that God shot.

Interesting what you call "head space."  I have to use less than 15 grams to get any difference in space.  Anything more than 15 and it just gets pushed off during leveling.  I know every portafilter is different but with the stock silvia 15 grams seems to be the point where waste is minimized and still achieve a level basket with your finger or other instrument.  I prefer the flat side of a knife vs. finger.  Its more sanitary and leaves a perfectly level grind in the basket for tamp.  Can you get a good pour if the grind isn't leveled in the basket before tamping?

Sorry if I hijacked.  The point I was trying to make to the OP is the silvia and precisio doesn't really lend themselves minor adjustments that are noticeable.  Bracketing is definitely the best way but with that combo of machine and grinder just the temp being different, even with surfing, you are going to notice a change in taste.  There is no way you can surf to the same temp with the silvia each time.  I don't care what people say.  The silvia has a 40 degree range where the light turns off.  Even the best surfing technique will have a +/- 5 degree difference in temp shot to shot.  I have the PID and the change in shot taste from surfing is ridiculously noticeable.  Even with the sub-par grinder that I have.  A micro turn here or there won't matter vs. the temp control the silvia has and the myriad of other variables.  Its placebo.
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,184
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 Jan 13, 2014, 7:21pm
Subject: Re: Adjusting Baratza Preciso for Taste
 

pilot25 Said:

All very valid but with the Silvia sans pid and pressure gauge you are kinda limited in your variables.

Posted January 12, 2014 link

it's not easy to solve Silvia's temping problem without a PID or a thermometer.  You can guesstimate pressure into the "okay" range though.  I'm not the right guy to tell you how.

Therefore you have to limit yourself to the variables the (user) can control.  The silvia is definitely challenging to get a good shot.

YES to limitations on what you can control, but also YES to controlling them.

You have a $3k machine vs. our $600 one.  There is no way we will achieve what you do in terms of getting to that God shot.

Temping aside or temping including:  The big difference between a machine like mine and something else is consistency.  Because I use great beans, have good enough technique, a good grinder and a good machine I get a lot of God shots on purpose.    

Interesting what you call "head space."  I have to use less than 15 grams to get any difference in space.  Anything more than 15 and it just gets pushed off during leveling.  I know every portafilter is different but with the stock silvia 15 grams seems to be the point where waste is minimized and still achieve a level basket with your finger or other instrument.  I prefer the flat side of a knife vs. finger.  Its more sanitary and leaves a perfectly level grind in the basket for tamp.

it's more about baskets than portafilters.  You're right that the stock Silvia basket maxes out at about 15g; so if you want to updose you'll need a different basket.  We can talk about some options if you like.  If it's any comfort, I know a lot more about baskets than about Silvias.

Can you get a good pour if the grind isn't leveled in the basket before tamping?

Yes I can. I level with the tamper.  The technique is dictated by the combination of grinder and basket.  The amount of technique (two slapshots, two tamps) I need to make it work for my current grinder is one of several reasons I'm upgrading.  Some grinder/basket combinations might pose too much of a problem; especially if the barista isn't single dosing or is  working without a dosing-timer.

Sorry if I hijacked.

You didn't.  You're responding to the OP's question, and doing a great job at it.

The point I was trying to make to the OP is the silvia and precisio doesn't really lend themselves minor adjustments that are noticeable.  Bracketing is definitely the best way but with that combo of machine and grinder just the temp being different, even with surfing, you are going to notice a change in taste.  There is no way you can surf to the same temp with the silvia each time.  I don't care what people say.  The silvia has a 40 degree range where the light turns off.  Even the best surfing technique will have a +/- 5 degree difference in temp shot to shot.  I have the PID and the change in shot taste from surfing is ridiculously noticeable.  Even with the sub-par grinder that I have.  A micro turn here or there won't matter vs. the temp control the silvia has and the myriad of other variables.

Completely agree.  

Its placebo.

If you're trying to taste the difference between "2e" and "2f," probably; between "2a" and "2m," probably not.  Fortunately, the bitters and sours of wrong temping can usually be separated from grind errors; and sometimes -- if you can't tell the difference between bitter and harsh, it's a matter of getting as close as you can by taste, and then using flow rate to try and tweak further. You can only do what you can do.  

it's a good thing that you recognize how the lack of meaningful temp control limits Silvia performance.  

BDL
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