Posted Sat Sep 29, 2012, 8:37am Subject: Some quick questions about my new used Gaggia Carezza
Hi espresso folks, I just bought a used Gaggia Carezza machine for $45 (my first non-free machine, yay!), and it was pretty dirty and clogged when I got it. I could pump water through the steam wand when I picked it up, and the water was warm, thus signifying that the boiler and pump worked. Now, after I've taken it apart and cleaned it, I get nice flow from the boiler through the shower screen and portafilter...ie it works. I tried to clean the boiler out with a scotchbrite pad, and made some progress, but couldn't get everything. I did run descaler through it, but didn't open it up after. I'm no espresso expert, but I can get a shot with some nice crema and so on. However, I'm a little unsure of a few things: 1) When cleaning the shower screen and portafilter, I saw that many of the holes were clogged, and used a safety pin to push out the crud. Afterwards I stumbled on some instructions for cleaning these items that state specifically to NOT use a pin, because it will widen the holes in these pieces (which I imagine I've probably done, oops!). What kinds of problems would I expect to see due to widened holes in the shower screen and portafilter? Is it a big enough problem to replace these parts (not so pricey, but not sure whether its a big problem)? 2) Perhaps related to #1, I've noticed that the grind I used to use on my old free machine (found a Krups Gusto 880 in my basement from a former tenant, cleaned and used it for awhile) it producing very fast shots. I get about 2oz in 15 seconds or so using two "scoops" of ground coffee. I can certainly tune the grind finer with the ridiculous tunability of the Baratza Preciso, so that's an option. This grind worked fine in the previous machine though. Also, some brand new store-bought pre-ground decaf espresso (no insults please) also caused a 15 second 2oz shot. I am using the silly plastic tamper, have yet to get a real one, but I'm tamping pretty hard. I guess my question is whether I should adjust the grind or worry that I made the holes in the shower screen and portafilter bigger and thus decreased the fluidic resistance. Would appreciate any thoughts 3) The frothing wand seems kinda.....short. Didn't come with any plastic attachments or anything. Is it worth trying to put on a wand from a Silvia or getting a plastic attachment or something like that? I'm no frothing expert, but with such a short wand I imagine it may be a bit tricky getting the angles right. 4) The power light on the machine has gotten dimmer in the past few days, and now doesn't seem to work at all...the green "ready" light is fine...bad connection? Flakey LED/Bulb/Lamp? Nothing to worry about? 5) The machine does make some gurgling noises every so often when warmed up and not doing anything (pump off)...is this normal? 6) Grounds seem to get stuck around the thread and shower screen...cleaning the screen is easy but getting stuff out of the threaded area is more tricky...any advice? 7) The power cord seems to get a bit warm near the outlet, which seems weird to me, but I've seen others mention the same thing, so perhaps this is ok? I'm guessing this machine should have a power cord with some thicker wires, given the wattage, but I don't feel like switching that just yet.
I'm sure I'll come up with some other questions about my new toy, but if anyone has any advice to offer re the above, I'd greatly appreciate it!
Posted Sat Sep 29, 2012, 11:01am Subject: Re: Some quick questions about my new used Gaggia Carezza
Welcome, looks you just joined and posted.
I doubt that you hurt the PF holes unless you were pretty aggressive. It is fairly thick, strong. The screen is thinner and the hole size probably easier to change. I would not worry at this point.
You need to adjust the grind to your new machine, bean changes, and as noted in the previous post. You have a different machine now and perhaps different pressure. Grind to adjust the time. You may need to change grind with different beans and different age of same beans. You have the Preciso, now you will find out what it can do. You also need to get a consistent and known dose.
You could check the power light with a voltmeter and see what is going on, but as noted the machine works even without the light.
It may gurgle with the heat cycle. The brew stat will heat close to boil and click on and off. In addition, most Gaggia machines drip from the steam wand and make a little gurgle as the steam goes through, and the boiler may not stay full?
I clean using a coffee cleaner, your choice of brand. You do not have a 3-way so no backflush, but remove the screw and screen and soak. You could use a blind basket full of cleaner and soak the group, but no backflush and then run the pump enough to flush the group well.
The Gaggia draws over 1400 watts plus the pump, so it may heat the cord. Your “earth” location does not give information about your home power, but from your comments, probably 110v and 14 awg. If anything else is running on that circuit, then you are close to limit.
Posted Sat Sep 29, 2012, 11:05am Subject: Re: Some quick questions about my new used Gaggia Carezza
Thanks for the info. I'll try playing with the grind to start with (right now at 8B on the grinder).
Re the warm plug, I'd say it was warm, not hot. I'll check it again over the next few days to see if it happens again...I also would be concerned if this is happening frequently or if it gets any warmer. When this happened I had the machine plugged into one of those 2-to-3-prong converters (even though it doesn't need it, just happened to be a free outlet), maybe the converter couldn't handle the current and it was the converter heating up. Now it is plugged into a power strip rated for more wattage. I can check the current draw on the machine with a watt-meter and see if it makes sense.
Is there something in particular I should be checking to see whether it is working before I address these smaller issues (pin holes, light, steamwand, etc)? The pump and heating work, but I haven't measured the pressure or temperature achieved, and I haven't warmed up to steaming temp (though I have gotten some residual steam from the wand if I open the valve when the machine has reached brewing temperature with the pump off...it steams for a bit and then stops, which sounds about right to me..if I then turn on the pump I will get hot water from the wand). The shots I've achieved so far have not been horrible (not that I'm an expert), but they just seem too fast. They seem to be getting better tasting too...though I'm guessing that is because I'm getting more used to the machine and what it likes.
Posted Sat Sep 29, 2012, 11:30am Subject: Re: Some quick questions about my new used Gaggia Carezza
It sounds like the machine is working. I let the machine warm to stable, about 20 minutes. You need to know how to time the shot to temperature, temperature surfing. All of the SBDU machines with bimetal thermostats can easily be too cool or too hot, so sour or bitter. In addition, if pull a double in much other than 25 second, it will not be extracted appropriately and will not taste good.
Grinder settings mean little. I had a Preciso that worked at about 10 and now one that works at closer to 14. It has mostly to do with the calibration to start. Grind to adjust flow, but must have a consistent amount of coffee. I will admit that I do not weigh, but I have and found a volume setting that I can reproduce and keeps the weight very close, when checked. Unless your scoops of beans are very consistent, you are going to have problems.
You can get an approximate temperature using a styrofoam cup and instant digital thermometer. You may need to do something like this to learn to surf and be consistent with temperature.
I would start to get a consistent amount of beans for a double, round numbers for Gaggia double basket about 16 - 18 gms, but get consistent within a tenth or two. Did you get a real double basket, not pressurized? That is also needed.
When you get a consistent dose, grind, and reasonable double time of 25 seconds, then look at temperature adjustment/surfing.
Posted Sun Sep 30, 2012, 8:31am Subject: Re: Some quick questions about my new used Gaggia Carezza
I adjusted the grind to be finer by one macro-notch (now at 6B on mine, I realize all Precisos are slightly different and have different calibrations and effective ranges), and the flow is definitely much slower. I got just under 2oz in about 25 sec (instead of 15 sec last time), which seems much more reasonable given how I understand this is all supposed to work. I'll play with the micro-settings now to adjust. I don't have a balance to weigh the dose. The machine was on for at least 10-15 min (probably not stabilized temp-wise), and the cord did not get warm, so that's a good sign I think. The basket is a real double basket, not pressurized, as far as I can tell (no tiny orifices or valves or anything like that, just one large hole that goes to the two spouts). The taste and coloration are getting better....
One thing I noticed is that I do have some residual grounds (15-20 specs) of not too tiny size (size of a sugar/salt crystal) that end up in the cup (at the bottom), perhaps due to enlarged holes due to playing with the pin? Probably not something to worry about at this point.
I think the plan now is to just continue playing with the machine and optimizing grind/dosing, and perhaps get a real tamper instead of the plastic thingy. Next steps would then be checking the temperature and putting on a silvia steamwand (I really want to learn how to steam milk correctly). Just curious, is there some obvious reason that the Silvia steamwand works better than the included one? Length, material, angle, metal tubing ID, orifice at the end, etc? As far as the machine goes, is there anything else I should be checking? I'm not seeing any noticeable leaks. My guess is that currently the bottleneck is the human in front of the machine, and not the machine. Thanks for all the help! This website, and the users on it, are fantastic!
Posted Sun Sep 30, 2012, 1:16pm Subject: Re: Some quick questions about my new used Gaggia Carezza
Many users on CG seen to try to about 45 ml for a 25 sec double. I started at about 60 ml and now am at about 45 and like the taste and feel better. You should measure weight of liquid out, or occasionally let the crema settle to determine the real volume of liquid. I get mostly crema out the spout and have had to figure out how much liquid there is going to be - weigh or settled volume.
I use the double basket and fill such that I get a slight impresson of the screen screw when I remove the wet puck. If I place and remove a dry PF, no impression. I have weighed a dose to do that and get about 17.5 gms. Yes, there will be some variation of weight if beans change.
Unless you were vigorous with a pin I doubt that you enlarged the basket holes. Basket is thick, but screen is thin. If you just used a pin to clean the holes and did not push and twist, the holes are probably ok. You are getting a few "fines" in the bottom of the cup. Normal, perhaps. I am not sure the condition of grinder or its burrs, but you can get more fines for more causes that the basket hole size. Some are normal.
If you do not weigh the dose, then find a measuring device that will deliver the same dose, enough for a filled basket as described with the puck indent. If you can find a container that will reproduce the amount, then you will be close. If you are guessing at how full a scoop or spoon is, times 2, then the dose can be all over the place.
The Silvia steam wand is a single hole, not a plastic device to foam. It is still about the operator, but much better/easier with the Silvia wand.
A PID helps with brew temperature and more consistent steaming, but PID is a whole new topic.
Posted Mon Oct 1, 2012, 4:35pm Subject: Re: Some quick questions about my new used Gaggia Carezza
Thanks for the link! I did a quick check of the connections, and they seemed fine mechanically. I may take a multimeter to it as well. The light isn't necessary, but I'd like it to work. I may try to find a replacement part on Digikey or Mouser or something. The machine is working fine without the light....I'm just obsessive. Thanks for all your help!
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