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Help! Problem with extraction - espresso
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Help! Problem...  
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pauster
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Oct 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Princeton
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 7:00am
Subject: Help! Problem with extraction - espresso
 

Hi Everyone,

I have been using a Gaggia Classic for about 7 years now and recently switched from latte to espresso. Then a lingering problem became much more pressing if you'll excuse the pun.

The extraction time is very variable - maybe one time out of 20, I get a nice slow extraction that takes 30-60 seconds and the espresso is great. But especially over the last year or so, the water almost always just sloshes through in 3-10 seconds for a small coffee cup volume and leaves me with a thin vile brew.

I have tried more or less espresso in the portafilter, less, more or a lot of tamping pressure, bought a conical burr grinder and use the finest or slightly more coarse settings, ordered mokka style ground espresso, all to no avail.

I am not sure where to look for other options other than buying a new machine. I bought fully automatic Jura S9 for the office which works great - but I kinda like the manual machine at home.

Help!

Patrick

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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,786
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 23, 2012, 7:19am
Subject: Re: Help! Problem with extraction - espresso
 

First and main question, what grinder are you using?

The shot should run in the 25 second or so range for 2 fl oz from 14 to 18 g (by weight on a scale) of ground coffee at 195 to 205 F.

It sounds like you have never really hit these general guidlines on a consistent basis, while milk can help to cover up the minor mistakes in pulling shots, it will not cover gross errors in the shot. Even milk drinks are much better when the espresso is pulled correctly.

How old are your beans? less than 2 weeks from THE DAY THEY WERE ROASTED?
Are you grinding just before pulling the shot (in your own grinder?)
Do you weigh your dose of coffee or sort of, kind of fill the Pf and level it off then mash it with a tamper?
Pre ground coffee might as well just be thrown into the garden, it is hopelessly stale if ground any place other than in your own grinder just before pulling the shot.

Not every grinder is able to grind for espresso, if you are looking at NEW grinders that run on a motor, expect to spend at least $300 for one that can do the job. Yes you might get lucky and find one for less but that is about the starting line for espresso grinders. Hand operated grinders can run less at about $100 to start, for espresso.

You can NOT have your coffee ground any other place as very small changes in grind make HUGE differences in the shot, you need to be able to adjust the grind on the fly.

Ground coffee goes stale in about 15 to 20 minutes from the time it is ground. Think of cutting an apple in half, in 15 minutes it starts to turn brown right? Now cut it into 200 pieces, the percentage of brown is much higher isn't it? The brown nasty stuff is oxidation. The same thing happens with coffee only coffee is brown to start with so you can not see this happening.

Tamping is the LEAST important part of the whole process, just be consistent and all will be well, it is only done to present a constant resistence to the flow of water, to remove voids and places that the water can flow more easily than in other places. You can not adjust the time of the shot with tamping harder, you will never reach the pressure the water does at about 140 psi.

The Classic is able to pull good shots but only if you feed it fresh, properly ground and portioned coffee.

 
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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pauster
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Oct 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Princeton
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 7:30am
Subject: Re: Help! Problem with extraction - espresso
 

Thank you for your quick reply! Recently I have been buying really freshly roasted beans from coffee fool, but in the past also used older beans (Lavazza (black) and Illy preground in a can - which I am sure is frowned upon here among the real geeks) with equal success or lack thereof. I tried grinding directly before the shot, no difference. I guess it's my technique or my technology :o)

The grinder is a capresso infinity. Not fancy but I bought this thing a few month ago as I wanted to try if this helps, which it did not.

I'll weigh my usual dosage (never done it) but I would say it's on the high side (kinda how much I can fit in without an issue with getting a good seal). I often tried to karate-chop the tamper to make sure  I get really good compression on the grounds.

Could there be something wearing out in the machine? Erosion in the portafilter? Scale buildup? I tried to descale the machine several times (we have soft water here in NJ and I use filtered water only) - no difference.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,786
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 23, 2012, 7:35am
Subject: Re: Help! Problem with extraction - espresso
 

Your grinder is not able to grind for espresso. It is a fine general use grinder and works well for most other methods but it will never grind properly for espresso.

The older the coffee the finer you need to grind up to about two weeks when the coffee is stale for espresso. Most feel that you can get a little longer out of it for other methods.

Illy was stale before it got on the boat from Italy, you will never have great luck from it. You might get OK shots from a crema enhanced porta filter when you first open the can but it will quickly catch up with it's age and it will never work properly in a machine that has a non pressurized porta filter.


The tamp should be a slow smooth pressure. Sharp knocks, rapps , tapping the pf, all cause cracks in the coffee bed and allow the water to channel or to follow the path of least resistance.

 
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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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,786
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 23, 2012, 7:38am
Subject: Re: Help! Problem with extraction - espresso
 

Espresso is all about little things done consistently. Small changes, done one at a time to watch the affect on the shot. The volume of coffee should be the same each time. The grind needs to not only be fine but there is a different grind for espresso than there is for other methods, espresso is a bi or tri modal grind, you need 2 or 3 different size but consistent size particles, that is only able to be done on a grinder that is designed to grind for espresso.

 
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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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,786
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 23, 2012, 7:48am
Subject: Re: Help! Problem with extraction - espresso
 

The Vario is considered here to be a good starting grinder for espresso. Some times you can find them referb on their website, keep an eye on the referb page as the stock changes all the time.
Click Here (www.baratza.com)
Click Here (www.baratza.com)
Your grinder is MUCH MUCH more important than your machine and with starter machines often costs as much or MORE than the machine.

 
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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pauster
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Oct 2012
Posts: 6
Location: Princeton
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 8:12am
Subject: Re: Help! Problem with extraction - espresso
 

Again thank you very much!

Hmmmmm for the cost of the grinder I could almost buy a Jura fully automatic (refurb) and it would do the trick too. If serves my need at the office and the quality is adequate for my amateur taste buds - at least for now. I do realize that these machines are frowned upon by the true coffee geeks ... no offense!

In about two hours after lunch I'll weigh the grounds and see what I get. I understand the oxidation part ... makes a lot of sense! And I guess I won't have to work on my tamping technique then - no "Daniel-San, wax on - wax off"!
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Netphilosopher
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jan 2011
Posts: 1,602
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 8:15am
Subject: .
 

.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,129
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 9:13am
Subject: Re: Help! Problem with extraction - espresso
 

Netphilosopher Said:

I don't think I'm allowed to comment on espresso, but I've been very happy with my Orphan Espresso Lido grinder.  In the espresso range, it does a really nice, consistent and fluffy grind.

Posted October 23, 2012 link

Too funny Steve!  I also have a Lido and it is a very capable espresso grinder.  I actually read the entire thread on home barista before buying it and when doing so, I cut every post from Doug and Barb regarding their engineering and design of it into a Word file, which I have on my hard drive (yeah, happy to share it - the reason I even mentioned it).  More importantly, I also read Dave Stephens extensive review of the Lido, where he actually did some side by side tests using the Lido and the Mazzer Mini for espresso.  His conclusion was that they are comparable.  All to say...Steve is quite correct in recommending the Lido as a consideration for espresso grinding.  It's also very simple to adjust between espresso, drip, presspot, etc.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,015
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Tue Oct 23, 2012, 9:20am
Subject: Re: Help! Problem with extraction - espresso
 

I agree with the previous posters about fresh beans and grinders.  The Baratza Preciso refurb at $239 is probably the least expensive non-manual grinder that is good for espresso and adjustment.

Also, I have to ask if you have adjusted the machine pressure down to about 9 bar.  It will be easier to use grind wise, but grind still needs to be solved.

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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