Posted Sat Jan 22, 2005, 3:16pm Subject: Coming Over to the Dark Side - Espresso That Is
Many of you probably have been there and done this, but I thought I would relate the experience of getting a high quality espresso set up and learning how to use it.
It all started when my Braun burr grinder jumped off the counter. OK, now it was definitely broken. It had slowed down while I was grinding for espresso. I thought Iíd let it work through the beans in it and it would clear up. When the smoke started coming out, I knew that plan was no good. After unscrewing the hopper and clearing out the beans, I gave it another try. It ran for a bit and then tried to commit grinder suicide by trying to leap off the counter. It was time for a new grinder.
So I started an Internet search for sites containing ďespresso grinderĒ. I didnít see much of interest until I got to this coffeegeek.com site. With a name like that, these people must really be into coffee. Right there on the main page was a lead in for the MACAP M5 dosing espresso grinder. I had no idea what dosing meant, but the picture looked cool. So I read the review and then searched the forums. Some of the posts also talked about the Andreja Premium, so I read the reviews for it as well. Ooh shiny. My La Graziella was thirty years old. Maybe it was time to upgrade. So after a couple of days of reading reviews and checking prices I called Chrisí Coffee to place my order for the Andreja Premium and the MACAP M4. A little on the overkill side for replacing a $60 grinder. It was a good thing I got an Ďat a boy bonus at the end of the year. At least it will pay for some of the purchase.
While I was waiting the interminable seven days for my new toys to make there way across the country, I revisited coffeegeek.com to see what else I could find out about espresso. Boy was I ignorant. My years as a wholesaler and plant manager taught me nothing about the fine art of espresso. My method for making espresso was to cram as much espresso ground coffee into the metal thingy, press down as hard as I could with the other metal thingy, wait for the overpressure valve to reach its maximum release, and then give two pumps on the handle. Now with your help, I know to grind 15gms into the basket, tamp with 30lbs pressure, load the preheated portafiller into the preheated group, pass heated water through at 201-203 degrees, resulting in 2oz in a preheated cup. And I used to think I made good espresso.
The day had come. I'd been checking the UPS tracking number all week to follow the progress of my goodies. The status said the packages were out for delivery. UPS seldom leaves anything of value at my house when I'm not home so I was looking for the failed delivery status. I was prepared to wait until the next day when I would work from home in order to accept delivery. As I drove in the driveway I glanced over at the porch. There they were, a nice stack of three packages. They were probably so heavy the driver didn't want to haul them back to the truck and out the next day.
I brought them in the garage and closed the door so I could enjoy the unveiling in private. In order to prolong the experience, I started with the smallest one which I thought was the accessories I had also ordered. It turned out to be my Deruta Raffaellesco demitasse cups that I had ordered from Amazon because I've been spending too much time on this site and saw a picture of them on someone's machine and instructions on where to get them on sale. Bonus! I then got out the grinder. With the one page of instructions, you were on your own as to how to set it. Finally, I got out the Andreja Premium. The corner of the inner box was wet and there was water inside the plastic bag enclosing the machine. My first thought was that it had been damaged, but then I realized it was just left over water from when Chris's people set it up. They do that, right?
Now on to the Andreja instructions. I tested the water. It was completely soft. One more hurdle jumped. After filling the machine, it said to turn it on, which I did. After a few seconds, the pumped started to run. And ran and ran. I panicked and turned it off after 20 or 30 seconds and went back to the instructions. I thought I had left something open. It turned out that I had to read the whole paragraph and not just the first sentence. Itís kind of hard to stick with the documentation after you read Ďturn it oní. Lucky for me, youíre supposed to run the pump in short bursts with five minute pauses in between until the boiler is full. Probably so you donít overheat the pump.
It was nice that Chrisí Coffee included a kilo of coffee with the machine. It was going to take me awhile to dial in the machine. The first few tries must have been too coarse. After flowing for a few seconds, the water started really pouring out resulting in half a cup in 20 seconds. I know it wasnít the tamp as I had also purchased a Espro tamper. Then it was too fine as I could only get about an ounce. The level of the coffee in the basket also varied. I learned that you have to have a consistent grinder cleaning procedure. After cleaning the grinder outlet into the doser (yea, I know what it is now) I run the grinder again for a couple of seconds to get out the last of the coffee still in the burrs. You also have to settle the coffee in the basket somewhat part way through filling it or the coffee overflows. Finally, I was getting close to a consistent two ounces. Unfortunately, it was now 9 PM, too late for me to be enjoying an espresso.
Iíve had the machine for a few days now. I tried some complementary Emerald Mist espresso coffee that I got with some green coffee that I ordered from Coffee Wholesalers and some French roast that I had from Peets. They both gave less espresso (1.5oz as opposed to 2oz) with the same grind and timing as the Machristay Italian Roast that came with the machine. Maybe the darker roast grinds finer or packs tighter. Once I work my way through this lot, Iíll roast the Malabar Gold that I ordered.
So now, I too am on my way to becoming a coffee geek. I wanted to thank all those who have posted their experiences and reviews to the site. Your help has been invaluable in helping me make my choice with which Iím quite pleased. Sometimes when Iím in the kitchen, Iíll go over and stand next to the machine just to admire its beauty and feel the warmth being given off. Thatís normal, right?
P S. Iíve had three times as much coffee today as I usually drink so my apologies if IĒve run on too long.
P P S. Iíve found another site for Deruta Raffaellesco. Itís: Mod Ceramics. They have a nice two cup and six cup sets. They also look to be cheaper.
krus Senior Member Joined: 30 Oct 2004 Posts: 296 Location: Indianapolis, Indiana Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Slayer...soon Grinder: Super Caimano Vac Pot: Bodum Arabica press pot Drip: Are you kidding?? Roaster: Hot-Top
Posted Sun Jan 23, 2005, 1:28pm Subject: Re: Coming Over to the Dark Side - Espresso That Is
Welcome to our world. After a while you will wonder why you waited so long to make the transition. Be patient and gather as much info as you can from here. All of us here have been at the stage your at, and can provide you with a lot of helpful advice, so don't hesitate to ask. Congratulation on your new "toys", I'ts obvious you've done your homework since you picked two of the finest machines available. Good luck in your quest.
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