ERC Senior Member Joined: 14 Oct 2012 Posts: 1 Location: Switzerland Expertise: Just starting
Posted Sun Oct 14, 2012, 1:19am Subject: Fast flow through Baby Gaggia
I have a 1 year old Baby Gaggia. After a couple months using some coffee brought to me from Ethiopia (grown, roasted and ground there, from a shop called Tomoca, but I don't know anything else about it) I moved back to other coffees. With any other coffee, water floods through the machine and the "shot" is twice what it should be after 10 - 15 seconds, very watery with no crema. (FYI I don't use the little plastic crema enhancer thingy it came with, or the filter basket designed for use with it. I replaced those with a regular filter basket)
I thought perhaps it was that my grinding was not fine enough, to I tested with some ready ground Illy espresso, but the same result. I had some beans (unground) also from this Ethiopian place, so I tried grinding those myself, and the result is somewhat better than with others. So, it seems like my machine only "likes" the Ethiopian coffee, and makes only brown-liquid-which-isn't-espresso with any other coffee, irrespective of the grinding. Which makes absolutely no sense to me.
Any suggestions on what I can do or why it behaves like this? Should I send it off for a servicing?
CoffeeMills Senior Member Joined: 21 Feb 2012 Posts: 32 Location: USA, Canada Expertise: Professional
Espresso: la Pavoni Professional Grinder: Mazzer Mini Drip: Gravity Cone Roaster: 49TH //
Posted Sun Oct 14, 2012, 10:51am Subject: Re: Fast flow through Baby Gaggia
Hi. Espresso extraction is all about the GRIND. To fix watery shots: 1) Replace water pump. (ULKA, Eaton vibration type) 2) Consider using an espresso grinder such as Vario Baratsa, Rancillio Rocky, RR45.... Eventually, buy a professional Mazzer or other expensive grinder later. 3) Try to use fresh, specialty coffee beans roasted for espresso machines. Pre-ground is not fresh. 4) Calibrate shot time to near 25 seconds. (ballpark time) This should be enough time to fill 2 oz. of thick creamy espresso.
My Baby Gaggia endured years of heavy usage because of constant cleaning and care. The same can be said for everything in life !
qualin Senior Member Joined: 30 Jun 2012 Posts: 496 Location: Calgary, AB Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Izzo Alex Duetto 3 Grinder: Mazzer Mini Elect. Type A Vac Pot: Looking to buy Drip: Manual Roaster: Considering?
Posted Sun Oct 14, 2012, 8:22pm Subject: Re: Fast flow through Baby Gaggia
What kind of grinder are you using? You need an espresso capable grinder to get a decent extraction time. If you can't choke the machine with the grinder that you have, it isn't good enough.
A Baratza Precisio is probably what I would consider to be entry level when it comes to espresso grinders. A Rocky is a decent grinder, but it has coarse steps for espresso adjustment, so it can grind for espresso, but it is only really ideal if you like to drink other types of coffee as well and like a grinder which is easily adjustable.
I'm not sure what other kinds of brands are available to you in Switzerland, but any boutique coffee equipment store can suggest something which would be a bit more capable.
Another thing I should mention, if the coffee is older than 20 days from its roasting date, it will be stale and no amount of grinding will get you a decent shot. You won't get any (Or very little) crema and it'll taste flat. I learned this the hard way.
The suggestion to replace the pump should only be considered if you know that your machine isn't generating the correct extraction pressure for the coffee. Any espresso equipment shop can use a specially modified portafilter to determine what your pump pressure is.
If you become passionate about espresso, then I would certainly consider upgrading to a Mazzer or a Compak grinder, however that is a substantial investment. If you can find a used one for a decent price, go for it. There are usually lots of used commercial grade coffee grinders on the used market if you don't mind them taking up the additional counter space.
I agree with CoffeeMills that pre-ground espresso isn't usually fresh, Illy stuff dies fast and has to be used quickly once opened.
Posted Mon Oct 15, 2012, 3:56am Subject: Re: Fast flow through Baby Gaggia
I've had the opposite problem with a Gaggia Evolution...
I was using beans from a reputable supplier, which, although good quality weren't particularly fresh. I was using a cheap grinder and to get anything approaching an espresso I was having to grind on the finest setting and tamp to about 200lbs!
I decided to experiment with beans from a different supplier which came with a "Roast on" date of two days before (my previous supplier didn't provide a "Roast On" date). Using exactly the same settings and tamp I completely choked my machine. To produce a sensible double (~28 seconds) I had to set my grinder a notch coarser and use a much lighter tamp.
Since upgrading my grinder I am using an even lighter tamp which is really just a gentle press and probably way under 30lbs...
It sounds to me like your main problem is the freshness of your coffee. Freshly roast beans (if there's no "Roast On" date on the packaging you have no idea how long they've been hanging around) will make a massive difference - ideally you want to source something less than 2 weeks old, but it should be easy to find an online supplier who can send you beans within a few days of roasting.
If you are still having the same problem with fresh beans and your grinder on its finest setting then it's probably time for a new grinder!
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 5,761 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Veneziano A1 Grinder: Many different commercial Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Milita, Bunn&Curtis... Roaster: Cast iron pan, gas burner
Posted Mon Oct 15, 2012, 5:59am Subject: Re: Fast flow through Baby Gaggia
The most common reasons for fast shots are coffee not ground fine enough and old stale coffee. You can NOT use pre ground coffee and have any real hope of getting a good shot. Coffee goes stale to a noticeable extent after about 15 minutes from the time it was ground. Grinding for ANY machine is a touchy process and small adjustments make big differences so if you get a good shot from coffee ground anyplace else than right by your machine, go and buy a lottery ticket as your luck is through the roof!
Tamping has the least affect on the shot of any of the preperation. You can not compress anything close to the pressure that the machine puts on the coffee puck. The tamp is only to make the puck a consistent resistance for the water to flow through, it is not much use at all for adjusting the time of the pull.
I am not sure where the advice to change the pump came from, that wasn't on my radar screen as a possible cure but YMMV!
In real life, my name is Wayne P.
Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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