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Challenge: Build the world's best Super automatic
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 662
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 Tue Jan 1, 2013, 4:36am
Subject: Re: Challenge: Build the world's best Super automatic
 

shadowsnuzzy Said:

But even if the whole puck is a sweet spot, why does the espresso come out worse than a standard semi auto's espresso?

Posted December 31, 2012 link

Think of it this way... by using a precise grind, the barista is deliberately trying to restrict the water flow through the coffee. They want the water to linger in
the grounds long enough to extract all of the goodness out of the coffee.

When water flows through a pressurized portafilter, (Or a super-automatic if I understand this properly) this water flow isn't controlled or restricted by the coffee
itself anymore. The grind is always usually a lot coarser. The check valve, like what SStones is saying, is artificially restricting the water flow through the coffee instead.

Even though the check valve is doing its job, There is nothing in the check valve that can make the coffee taste better. The check valve isn't designed to limit
the water flow depending on the blend of the coffee, it's just meant to keep the water touching the coffee grinds long enough to make drinkable coffee.

shadowsnuzzy Said:

What's the point it straying from the semiauto pressure model if the espresso brews faster but taste worse?

Posted December 31, 2012 link

Let me step back a bit here... Before we go any further, lets think carefully about why espresso even exists.

The whole entire purpose of "Espresso" was to brew coffee fast so that people could get their cup of coffee faster. Hence the "Espress" in espresso.
Ramming massive amounts of pressure through the coffee grounds to speed up the brewing process seemed like a great idea and it was and still is.

If what comes out of the machine looks like coffee, tastes like coffee, is "Good enough" and it gets coffee to people fast, then theoretically, what
they have in their cup is originally what the purpose of an espresso is... Coffee brewed fast.

Considering how much business all of the major coffee chains in the US and Canada do, my thought is, the majority of people really don't care about the quality
the coffee machine produces. In some cases, they drink coffee not because they want it to taste good, but rather because it just has caffeine in it. Why else do you
think that they serve drinks so loaded down with sugar, cream and flavoring to drown out anything that was there?

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 662
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 Tue Jan 1, 2013, 4:57am
Subject: Re: Challenge: Build the world's best Super automatic
 

takeshi Said:

Developing and producing a product is something else entirely.  See also: ZPM Espresso.

Posted December 31, 2012 link

I remember that. The idea was to create a cost effective espresso machine which was "Open-Source" so that anyone could use the plans to build one themselves.
Great idea and they're accepting pre-orders which is a start, but until I actually see a review on the machine, I really can't say if the design is worth beans or not. (No pun intended.)

I think that one way for someone to learn all of the ins and outs of a machine would be to just build one from scratch. There are enough "Generic" parts on the market, that I don't
think it wouldn't be feasible to build one from scratch. I mean, El Salvatore has been building them by hand for many years now. There's even a mechanic building one on this forum.

takeshi Said:

I get where you're going but it's not quite the same these days.  There are automatics that can shift faster and smoother than any person could.

Posted December 31, 2012 link

I agree. Then again, that's the point I was trying to drive home. The automatic transmission is almost as old as the espresso machine itself. (A spring-lever one anyway.)
There have been 62 years of technological refinement to get to where we are today. DSG's, CVT's, the list goes on.

It's a realistic fact that Super-Automatics are still in their infancy. My guess is, they can't be any older than the mid 1970's, before Microprocessor control. Heck, look where home
espresso machines were back in the 1950's compared to today.

Maybe perhaps there will be a day in our lifetimes where a Super-auto machine will be just as good as a semi-auto... but I suspect that day is very far off yet. The industry needs
another Achilles Gaggia or Luigi Bezzera to rethink the whole idea.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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shadowsnuzzy
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Joined: 8 Jan 2011
Posts: 70
Location: Pleasanton
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Jan 1, 2013, 11:11am
Subject: Re: Challenge: Build the world's best Super automatic
 

Chivalry Said:

lost credability when you mentioned mazzer and rocky in the same sentence as if they were equal... :)

Posted January 1, 2013 link

My point was to use a grinder much better than the current ones superautos are equipped with lol


qualin Said:

When water flows through a pressurized portafilter, (Or a super-automatic if I understand this properly) this water flow isn't controlled or restricted by the coffee
itself anymore. The grind is always usually a lot coarser.

Posted January 1, 2013 link

Pressurized portafilter... isn't that what some of the cheap, crappy, semiautomatic machines have?

So if it's the pressurized portafilter that is makng the difference besides the grind, why does Quickmill use it too? Isn't that expensive machine targeted towards people who don't want to deal with a semauto but still want good coffee? Quickmill is a prestigious brand, why would they also slack to the level of current superautos?

And on that note, would a machine with a great grinder and a non-pressurized portafilter solve the problem? I think waiting an extra 20 seconds for your espresso to come out is worth the potentially immense change in taste.
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,424
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
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Posted Tue Jan 1, 2013, 11:33am
Subject: Re: Challenge: Build the world's best Super automatic
 

shadowsnuzzy Said:

Pressurized portafilter... isn't that what some of the cheap, crappy, semiautomatic machines have?
So if it's the pressurized portafilter that is making the difference besides the grind, why does Quickmill use it too? Isn't that expensive machine targeted towards people who don't want to deal with a semauto but still want good coffee? Quickmill is a prestigious brand, why would they also slack to the level of current superautos?

Posted January 1, 2013 link

Rancilio Silia can use pods... So what?

A major problem with superautos is this: A grind change of .001" in the Rocky can add or subt4rat as much as three to five seconds in extraction time. Can a superauto be made to control that? Sure. But that takes a precision grinder that can be precisely adjusted, and then the dose adjusted to match that. A dose change of two grams can have a significant effect on the extraction. Then there are temperature adjustments to be made to match the coffee. And grind adjustments to be made to match the age of the coffee. And if the grind changed to match old coffee, what happens when a new batch of beans is used? Can all this be compensated for and automatically adjusted? Yes. How large would a machine that could do all that be, and how much would it cost considering the small market it would have. And if it were truly the "best superauto" how much would it weigh!?  Would you want it if all the gears and operating system were made of plastic?

There are already some really great espresso machines in use commercially. Nuovo Simonelli had one at a show that would brew the same way if the coffee were tamped properly or when the basket was half filled and not tamped at all. The flow rate was computer controlled and there were three PIDs in the system for temperature stability and control.  The difference between that and a superauto was that they used an external (commercial) grinder. That is huge. I would rater have an electronically-controlled espresso machine paired with a separate, quality grinder than to pay for the machine to do all the preparation automatically with the tradeoff being added complexity and lowered dependability and compromised flavor.  Oh.. the untamped NS extraction? It was delicious. And, yes, I was surprised.

 
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 662
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 Tue Jan 1, 2013, 11:43am
Subject: Re: Challenge: Build the world's best Super automatic
 

shadowsnuzzy Said:

Pressurized portafilter... isn't that what some of the cheap, crappy, semiautomatic machines have?

Posted January 1, 2013 link

Well, the reason why the cheap machines have them is to work around the limitations of the low quality consumer grinders which people typically purchase.
They're there to cater to the people that don't want to spend more than $300 on a complete machine/grinder set up.

shadowsnuzzy Said:

So if it's the pressurized portafilter that is makng the difference besides the grind, why does Quickmill use it too?

Posted January 1, 2013 link

Everyone who makes a Super-Auto uses that design because it's how a super-automatic design works.

shadowsnuzzy Said:

And on that note, would a machine with a great grinder and a non-pressurized portafilter solve the problem?

Posted January 1, 2013 link

Nope. The super-auto has no way of being able to automatically adjust the grind precisely enough to allow for a proper extraction. The reason why people buy super-autos
is because they want a no-fuss, no-muss machine.. anything extra the user is required to do is a detriment as to the purpose of a super-auto.

All super-autos, to the best of my knowledge are volumetric. That means they're designed so that x amount of water goes in and x amount of coffee should come out.
Using a pressurized system guarantees the consistency that the user expects, even when the grind setting has been mis-adjusted. The grinders purpose
in a super-automatic is just to get grounds into the brewing chamber, not to grind precisely enough to make the coffee act as a flow restrictor.

Without the check valve in place, too coarse of a grind would result in too much coffee coming out. Too fine of a grind would result in too little coffee coming out.
The grind adjustment would be very fussy and difficult to use.. At least, I'm speculating here...

I'm sure other more experienced and knowledgeable members of this forum could probably elaborate on this a bit further.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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shadowsnuzzy
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Jan 2011
Posts: 70
Location: Pleasanton
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Jan 1, 2013, 11:46am
Subject: Re: Challenge: Build the world's best Super automatic
 

frcn Said:

Rancilio Silia can use pods... So what?

Posted January 1, 2013 link

Are pods ever considered good..? Especially compared to fresh real beans


And my vision was to have very small steps or even a stepless grinder on the machine. If extraction is too fast all you wold have to do is make the grinder ever so slightly finer. The problem I see with the current supers is that their grinder is garbage, because it's cheaper that way. Also, I guess they use a pressurized system to counter their cheap grinder, which doesn't really help. I could be wrong here, but it seems to me they are just taking shortcuts and taking advantage of the customer because they know the customer doesn't care about excellent quality espresso, but I believe there is a market of people who desire top notch espresso in a timely fashion.
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shadowsnuzzy
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Joined: 8 Jan 2011
Posts: 70
Location: Pleasanton
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Jan 1, 2013, 11:54am
Subject: Re: Challenge: Build the world's best Super automatic
 

qualin Said:

Everyone who makes a Super-Auto uses that design because it's how a super-automatic design works.

Posted January 1, 2013 link

If everyone jumps off a cliff why jump with them? If no one has built what I'm proposing isn't it a huge opportunity to change our perception of supers?




qualin Said:

Nope. The super-auto has no way of being able to automatically adjust the grind precisely enough to allow for a proper extraction. The reason why people buy super-autos
is because they want a no-fuss, no-muss machine.. anything extra the user is required to do is a detriment as to the purpose of a super-auto.

Posted January 1, 2013 link

I'm not suggesting an automatic mechanism to adjust grind setting, although I don't think that would be too difficult to build, I'm suggesting the user should tamper with the grind setting. Sure, there's one more variable involved in the superautomatic, so call it a mix between a semi-auto and a super-auto, but if the espresso comes out substantially better, I think it's worth it. Grind is the ONLY variable the user would need to adjust, and that too, only once per bag of beans, not every time they brew.
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qualin
Senior Member
qualin
Joined: 30 Jun 2012
Posts: 662
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 Tue Jan 1, 2013, 12:01pm
Subject: Re: Challenge: Build the world's best Super automatic
 

shadowsnuzzy Said:

Are pods ever considered good..? Especially compared to fresh real beans

Posted January 1, 2013 link

Not really.

shadowsnuzzy Said:

The problem I see with the current supers is that their grinder is garbage, because it's cheaper that way.

Posted January 1, 2013 link

Well, rather than discussing it, build a super-automatic with an unpressurized brewing chamber and a high quality grinder, then get back to us about why it doesn't work.
I've already explained the reasons why the manufacturers do it this way and it isn't because of cost savings.

A lot of these machines go north of $10k in cost and have commercial grade grinders in them, but they still are designed to brew just like a consumer grade super-auto.
Just because a grinder is designed not to grind fine enough for unpressurized operation doesn't mean that it is junk or that it is cheaper.

 
Garbage In, Garbage Out, for every step of the process. From Beans to grinder, grounds to machine, coffee to cup.
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shadowsnuzzy
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Jan 2011
Posts: 70
Location: Pleasanton
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Jan 1, 2013, 12:13pm
Subject: Re: Challenge: Build the world's best Super automatic
 

qualin Said:

Well, rather than discussing it, build a super-automatic with an unpressurized brewing chamber and a high quality grinder, then get back to us about why it doesn't work.
I've already explained the reasons why the manufacturers do it this way and it isn't because of cost savings.

A lot of these machines go north of $10k in cost and have commercial grade grinders in them, but they still are designed to brew just like a consumer grade super-auto.
Just because a grinder is designed not to grind fine enough for unpressurized operation doesn't mean that it is junk or that it is cheaper.

Posted January 1, 2013 link

I'm just playing with ideas, if it is feasible maybe I'll try building one over the summer

Doesn't everyone on this forum preach the importance of a good grind? Why is that rule thrown out the window when it comes to superauto machines? Do you disagree with me when I say that a machine with an excellent grinder and non pressureized portafilter would produce far superior espresso compared to any current super auto? If you disagree, can you please explain why, I'm not completely understanding the reason the espresso would not taste good.

And just to get this straight, the reason manufacturers "do it this way" is because it provides a convenience factor right? That was the only major reason right?
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
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Posted Tue Jan 1, 2013, 12:40pm
Subject: Re: Challenge: Build the world's best Super automatic
 

shadowsnuzzy Said:

Well yea I'm talking about the Superauto Quickmill, but why isn't it made so the shot comes out in 25 seconds like a real semi auto and barista?

Posted December 31, 2012 link

Repeat after me:  "a) because the grind wasn't dialed in properly; AND b) because it's a super-automatic."

JasonBrandtLewis: icon_rolleyes.gif

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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