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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Too many...  
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docdvm
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Oct 2009
Posts: 83
Location: Ottawa Ontario
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Giotto, Cremina
Grinder: Baratza Vario, Versalab
Drip: Bunn VP-17
Roaster: HotTop
Posted Mon Oct 17, 2011, 8:30pm
Subject: Too many choices!
 

Well serviced my Giotto so that it is running as new and having  some trouble finding consistency in my shots getting  sour and  bitter expressos using a home brewed  Costa Rican Flore bean which may be part of the problem. I find that a 16 to 17 gm fine grind in the naked triple basket gets the best cone although I need to grind a tad coarser with my mazzer E type B. I perform a flush beforehand and found that flushing until the E61 head (Eric thermometer) read 199 degrees was too much of a flush. So with a well warmed machine I flush 2 oz. and then prepare my portafilter. (Temp drops to around 200 and I have about 30 seconds to prepare the basket) I find that after a couple of taps and a nice mound in the basket I get the best flow with a light (no more than 30 lb. ) tamp. A 4 second preinfusion , no more. I tried various distribution methods but just grind, tap to distribute and then tamp works best for me.

Question is, I am considering a change of machine. Have considered a La Spaziale s1 , Marzocco GS/3, Bosco Lever, Izzo Pompei. All look like beautiful machines but which will be the most consistent. I am tired of flushing and wondering whether I am getting variations in temperature and pressure due to the machine. The GS/3 and S1 have many automated features with PID , etc. and the levers have a spring and huge boilers that make for more consistent temps and less complicated electronics that can get finicky.

I know that a pro barista could make a better shot than an amateur and that the machine would not be the deciding point. A good blend would also be easier that a SO home roasted bean. Of course that Barista touch would be the main ingredient. Would the espresso machine make a difference?
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,991
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 Tue Oct 18, 2011, 12:58am
Subject: Re: Too many choices!
 

With any dual boiler machine you will no longer have to do cooling flushes. That's one thing.

However, the quality of espresso in the cup depends on a lot of interdependent factors: blend, freshness and degree of roasting of the beans, roasting method (traditional vs. industrial high yield roasting), water quality (pH-value, hardness), method of grinding, correct fineness of the grounds, dosing and distribution, tamping, espresso machine, filter baskets, brewing temperature, brewing pressure, extraction time to name but a few.

For the perfect shot we all long for, everything has to be just right.

Assuming that all other elements are perfect, a better machine will make a difference. But I guess you know that it's more likely do pull a good shot using a top grinder and a mediocre machine than with an inferior grinder and a high quality prosumer machine, for example. With the Rocket Espresso Giotto and the Mazzer Mini you already have an excellent set-up. I'm not sure that buying any of the machines you mentioned will be a breakthrough as far as the taste in the cup is concerned. There would be a noticeable improvement, sure, but no "divine revelation". So, before making such a big investment, I'd try to bring some of the other factors to near perfection. Then, if you're still dissatisfied, you can upgrade your appliances.

 
***
"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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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,468
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 Tue Oct 18, 2011, 5:45am
Subject: Re: Too many choices!
 

If you want to spend a ton of money, go ahead, I won't stop you!

If you want better espresso, try different coffees.  Try several blends designed by professional roasters to work well with espresso.

Your equipment is more than able to produce outstanding espresso.

You may not need to do a cooling flush with a DB but most DBs require a warming flush so you are flushed if you do and flushed if you don't.

You can prep your PF, flush, lock and pull. This works well for me. Some like to over flush and wait for the system to warm up again or like I said, I like to prep for the shot then flush and go. Either method works.

Tamping is the least important part of the process, just be consistent. Try not tapping on the PF, you may be making cracks in the coffee that can lead to channeling.

 
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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docdvm
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Oct 2009
Posts: 83
Location: Ottawa Ontario
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Giotto, Cremina
Grinder: Baratza Vario, Versalab
Drip: Bunn VP-17
Roaster: HotTop
Posted Tue Oct 18, 2011, 6:07am
Subject: Re: Too many choices!
 

I find my technique is improving. I am spending less time distributing the coffee. Basically I tap so that I have a relatively even mound in the middle of the basket. I use an Espro tamper (Convex) and tamp once with 1/2 spin after, load the portafilter (I removed the spring ) lock and pull. As for a preinfusion I lift the lever 1/2 way for 4 seconds. The pucks are wet though. Very sloppy. Shots are even and the volume depends on the grind. Seems to be very sensitive to grind as just a very small change in grind makes a significant difference in volume. Some have suggested not capturing the first 3 or 4 seconds of the extraction so that you get more of the sweetest part of the extraction and avoid the sour part.

I think the Costa Rican is better suited to drip than espresso as it is a more acidic coffee. Also my roast normally is just barely into second crack although this particular batch is 15-20 seconds into second crack. A bit darker , well into city. Lose the lighter berry taste. I usually prefer the lighter roasts in SO coffee. It seems like this particular bean is very sensitive because it does not take much change to get a very sour or bitter coffee.

Maybe a machine like the La Marzocco would be more forgiving, or is it just the bean. I roasted a Guatamalan and a Kona this past weekend and will try those today to see if that make a difference. With my setup it takes a few pulls to dial it all in . I like to vary my coffee and , so far , have not blended so it can be frustrating when I have a sensitive bean.
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 1,991
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 Tue Oct 18, 2011, 6:20am
Subject: Re: Too many choices!
 

docdvm Said:

I find my technique is improving. I am spending less time distributing the coffee. Basically I tap so that I have a relatively even mound in the middle of the basket. I use an Espro tamper (Convex) and tamp once with 1/2 spin after, load the portafilter (I removed the spring ) lock and pull...

Posted October 18, 2011 link

calblacksmith Said:

...Tamping is the least important part of the process, just be consistent. Try not tapping on the PF, you may be making cracks in the coffee that can lead to channeling.

Posted October 18, 2011 link

Instead of tapping, have you ever tried the Weiss Distribution Technique?

The influence of tamping has been somewhat overrated. Tamping with exactly 30 lb used to be the gospel, practicing with a scale to get the feeling was hip. Actually there's a physical limit to how hard you can compress the grounds. When the coffee granules are compressed so firmly that they all touch and cannot move any closer there's no sense in tamping any harder. Polishing the surface of the puck by spinning the tamper is just for looks, although I must admit that still do it, because I enjoy that little ritual.

 
***
"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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docdvm
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Oct 2009
Posts: 83
Location: Ottawa Ontario
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Giotto, Cremina
Grinder: Baratza Vario, Versalab
Drip: Bunn VP-17
Roaster: HotTop
Posted Tue Oct 18, 2011, 7:39am
Subject: Re: Too many choices!
 

Yes I have tried distributing the coffee many ways. Using the naked portafilter I find that I get the best extraction by performing the least amount of distribution. I grind 13 gms. into the basket tapping to distribute and then add a mound to 16 to 18 gm. Tamp lightly and don't polish the top after the tamp apart from 1/4 turn at the end. Then I pull the shot. I get no channeling and a nice even cone in the middle of the basket. Volume of the shot depends on the grind as I normally stop the shot at 26-28 seconds. The puck is wet though.
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,278
Location: Berkeley, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
Grinder: Mahlkönig K30 Vario -...
Vac Pot: Yama 5-cup
Drip: CCD, Chemex
Roaster: No, no, not another...
Posted Tue Oct 18, 2011, 8:17am
Subject: Re: Too many choices!
 

docdvm Said:

Have considered a La Spaziale s1 , Marzocco GS/3, Bosco Lever, Izzo Pompei . . .

Posted October 17, 2011 link

You can get a Bosco lever?!?!?!

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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docdvm
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Oct 2009
Posts: 83
Location: Ottawa Ontario
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Giotto, Cremina
Grinder: Baratza Vario, Versalab
Drip: Bunn VP-17
Roaster: HotTop
Posted Tue Oct 18, 2011, 11:10am
Subject: Re: Too many choices!
 

Yes Bosco Lever can be ordered in Canada from Uptempo Coffee in Montreal.

Expensive as a single group is over $4000.00 plus shipping. Doug is very helpful though and will even help with installation.

What are your thoughts on the Bosco? Is it worth it. Spend a little more and you have a La Marzocco. Guessing that the shipping from Italy will be very dear.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,468
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 Tue Oct 18, 2011, 11:56am
Subject: Re: Too many choices!
 

Look inside young grasshopper. What you seek lies within, not with spending boat loads of money.

Should you have an extra boat load of money, let me take care of that burden for you. My address is.........

 
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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TheMadTamper
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Nov 2010
Posts: 1,246
Location: US
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Salvatore SES; Izzo Duetto...
Grinder: Compak K10 WBC, K8 Fresh,...
Drip: /Pod: Bunn MCP
Roaster: /Other: Blender - BlendTec...
Posted Tue Oct 18, 2011, 12:52pm
Subject: Re: Too many choices!
 

Let me get this straight.  You're using a Mazzer Mini with your Giotto, and you think a GS/3 or Pompeii is going to solve your problems? :)

The S1, Duetto, GS/3, Pompeii, whatever you want are all very fine machines.  If you like the temp management of a PID over HX flushing, you may well prefer those machines.  However the Giotto is ALSO a fantastic machine, and not a single one of the machines you mention, nor any of the myriad of remortgage inducing 3 group machines you didn't mention will produce a better shot than that Giotto.  The GS/3 will produce a shot with a different flavor profile, and certainly so will the lever machines. But none better.  You already have a commercial (E-61) group and a proven HX design....what more are you looking for? :)  If you simply desire different methods of temp management, that's fine.  But your described desires don't seem to involve merely temp issues.

First, a lever is its own animal.  While it's very forgiving in terms of grind, it's going to require one heck of a lot of practice compared to the Giotto to get the pressures right.  It's an art in a way, bred from experience.  If you're having difficulty producing acceptable quality on an E61 machine, I would REALLY not be seeking a Bosco/Pompeii spring lever.  They're VERY nice machines, and you can, with a lot of skill, really change up the flavor profiles with it.  But it's just that, a skill.  If you were just starting out and wanted to go lever, more power to you.  If you mastered pump and wanted to extend your skill to lever, fantastic! But if you're trying to use lever as an escape route from pump brew issues, I think you'll be in for a scary surprise!

Now, as for saturated groups like the GS/3, they definitely produce a different flavor profile than the E-61 from most accounts.  A shift from body to clarity has been reported by more than one person.  I've had shots from saturated groups but have never used one personally.  The point is, the differences are all in the subtleties.  Like flat to conical grinders.  There's a difference, but your skill must be pretty darn honed to notice it.  

On the other hand.  You have a Mazzer Mini.   A Mini.  A MINI!!  You're expressing an interest in throwing amazing amounts of money moving from espresso machine to espresso machine, all the while you intend to plug along with a entry-mid ginder? :)  Why not go all out, buy a 3-group FB/80 and use a Cuisinart blade grinder? :)  If you're seriously looking to throw money around for the sake of your own sanity, start with the grinder.  Go buy a K10, or a Nino (and an electrician to go with it for 220V service), or a Robur.  If money's no object, buy a 3-phase Robur.  Grind a double in 2 seconds, get bragging rights, etc.  Get a nice vacuum to go with it to clean out stale grinds.  Shots from a Mini and a GS/3 will still taste like shots from a Mini, no matter what you do!  Shopping around for a $5500-6500 espresso machine and using a $600 entry-mid level grinder with it is sheer madness!  As is judging equipment based on home roast beans.  You're diagnosing two issues at once.  Before throwing money out of an airplane, dial in your temps and techniques with commercial blends.  BLENDS.  Difficult beans are difficult no matter the equipment.  If you can dial in for a commercial blend, then you know where you are with equipment and know, when messing with tricky beans, or home roast, that it's not the equipment but the bean or the roast that is at issue.  Still.....scrap the Mini if you're really that worried about your gear though.  The jump from a Mini to a 68mm conical will be extreme, and still significantly cheaper than the GS/3....

Here's what to do.  Jump to the head of the line, get the best grinder you can, use it with your Giotto.  If you're still not happy, then go drop some crazy cash on whatever shiny you want, then ship me the Giotto for the great advice.  Deal? :)


I'm the last person to tell people to not buy a better machine if they want it, but in this case, you're talking about mostly parallel sidesteps, same quality, different features, to fix a quality issue.  It's fair enough to say you don't want to flush for temp management, but I'd hardly advocate spending more money for situations where the money is unlikely to solve the actual issue.  And if you are bent on spending some money, the grinder would absolutely be the place to spend it, at that level.   You have a machine capable of producing coffee to rival any other machine (Lever aside, as it's a different sort of thing), but you have it paired with a grinder that's below the high-end in performance.  If you fear you can't fix your issues with technique or a bean change, try the grinder before any machine upgrade.
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