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Helping out a newbie that is overwhelmed with choices
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,467
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 Thu Jan 31, 2013, 8:34pm
Subject: Re: Helping out a newbie that is overwhelmed with choices
 

Uh, yeah -- well . . .

a)  It's not a good idea to grind frozen beans.
b)  It's an even worse idea to freeze-unfreeze-freeze--unfreeze . . . in other words, freeze the beans; take 'em out; use 'em; take out more.
c)  Lavazza is a bad idea; it's never fresh.
d)  "Local" beans are not an issue; "fresh" beans are.  Therefore, take a look at this list; each one roasts to order and ships the same day.

(Should I continue?)

Cheers,
Jason

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


Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Feb 1, 2013, 7:17am
Subject: Re: Helping out a newbie that is overwhelmed with choices
 

Dear ATLd,
Sorry that you are being hit with so much critical information, including mine.  Think of it as 'tough love'.  My critical input is that Allegro (Whole Foods house brand) roast quality varies from store to store but it is all roasted via hot air (think of mega popcorn popper) by amateur store clerks and (I am assuming) probably along the lines of some timing recipes that do not rely upon them to listen to the crack, or take into account starting temperature, humidity, change of supplier over time (meaning change of bean size, moisture content, and the like).  Allegro is poor quality masquerading as premium quality.  The last four bags of Allegro coffee that I purchased from Whole Foods (either the Belaire or Kirby store in Houston one year or so ago) I returned for a refund.  The money you have just put into your machinery purchase deserves better, but use what you have for the learning curve.  Then stick to roasters that get good reviews here on CG to amaze yourself with what you can do with your new setup.
Jason is very right about freezing and, in my experience, once thawed, previously frozen coffee stales more quickly than never frozen coffee.  Therefore, I freeze my beans in glass jars not larger than one pint in size, with lids that have rubber seals.  Canning jars and reused jam, jelly, mayonnaise glass jars all have lids with a deformable plastic ring on them.  Otherwise, use wax paper (remember that!?).  Thawing the beans for several hours or overnight is a recommendation that needs to be taken seriously.
Nicholas of Home-barista fame has advised me that bothering to fill bean storage jars with nitrogen or vacuum them makes very little difference in the six month quality of frozen beans.  Instead, getting them and keeping them in a low-enough temperature and a stable low temperature seems to make a difference.  If you do not have access to a chest-like freezer, use the back of your refrigerator freezer - do not keep the jars in the door.
Buckley
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ATLDiver
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Aug 2005
Posts: 18
Location: Atlanta, GA
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Fri Feb 1, 2013, 12:20pm
Subject: Re: Helping out a newbie that is overwhelmed with choices
 

No offense given or taken...I'm hear to learn and I understand that going into the espresso world will greatly reduce the wiggle-room I have in making a good drink. So far I'm getting that I need to get ultra-fresh beans from a local roaster, I'm already working on that; I'll pick some up this weekend from a local place. I was going to use a vacuum canister but sounds like that makes little/to no difference?

I read somewhere that the best SOP is measure out as preciously as possible the amount of beans you'll use in a week and bag that amount in a ziplock. Do this with all your supply and freeze them and pull out as needed? I'm not sure how much I'll drink, I'm guessing a couple shots a day but how's the best way to handle a decaf espresso in the evenings?
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Buckley
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Feb 1, 2013, 2:52pm
Subject: Re: Helping out a newbie that is overwhelmed with choices
 

Dear A,
Sound like a good plan.  A lot of guys and gals on this site like freezer ziplocks.  I don't know what the relative merits of good jars v good bags are.
B
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JasonBrandtLewis
Senior Member
JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
Posts: 6,467
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 Fri Feb 1, 2013, 3:04pm
Subject: Re: Helping out a newbie that is overwhelmed with choices
 

FWIW, I use 8 (12?) ounce Mason jars, and take one out the night before I'm going to need it.  Zip locks will work, too, IF you get as much air out of the bag as possible.  I prefer jars.  Not only do they have a good, flexible seal, but they open with a satisfying "pop" or "whoosh" so I know they worked.

I also have multiple grinders, so I can do a straight decaf or an SO espresso without messing up the settings on my "regular" grinder.

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


Joined: 23 Aug 2005
Posts: 18
Location: Atlanta, GA
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Fri Feb 1, 2013, 3:31pm
Subject: Re: Helping out a newbie that is overwhelmed with choices
 

Fair enough, I have a Foodsaver with mason jar attachment. I like that idea so that's the route I think I'll take. I'm sure I'll have more questions as time goes by, thanks to all.
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ATLDiver
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Aug 2005
Posts: 18
Location: Atlanta, GA
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013, 7:26pm
Subject: Re: Helping out a newbie that is overwhelmed with choices
 

Update.....So my setup came today in the mail and after dinner I had a chance to setup and test everything. No surprises as everything worked as expected but I did use my current beans that aren't as fresh as they should; first shot was a little thin even though my grinder setting was set to 6 on my Gaggia MDF. I was quite sure I didn't get enough pressure on the tamper, (I used the plastic POS shipped with the unit,) thankfully I did go ahead and order a Rattleware tamper from Amazon which I used the on the second shot. That shot was MUCH better but I still think my grind is too course as I was 19sec total but the crema and a bit of a sweetness from the coffee came through.

Just to make sure I'm loading enough coffee in my filter, I want it overflowing before tamping?
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Prof
Senior Member
Prof
Joined: 10 Sep 2004
Posts: 715
Location: Seattle
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: PV Lusso
Grinder: Pharos 696
Drip: Aeropress
Roaster: Behmor 1600+
Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013, 8:07pm
Subject: Re: Helping out a newbie that is overwhelmed with choices
 

Let your taste buds be the decider.  Don't worry about shot times, unless they are VERY quick or dog slow.  There is no perfect number of seconds that applies to every espresso machine out there.  

Usually the ground coffee is over the top of the basket.  Some people sweep it off and then tamp.  Many carefully tamp it so as not to wasted any coffee.

Find "your" sweet spot.

 
LMWDP # 010
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ATLDiver
Senior Member


Joined: 23 Aug 2005
Posts: 18
Location: Atlanta, GA
Expertise: I like coffee

Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013, 8:12pm
Subject: Re: Helping out a newbie that is overwhelmed with choices
 

Hopefully I'll steadily improve but so far I'm pleased with the results. One thing I have to work on is my steaming, that by far seems to be the biggest challenge. Thanks to all for the advice....
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Iluvdabean
Senior Member
Iluvdabean
Joined: 7 Mar 2005
Posts: 1,282
Location: Kentucky
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: La Nuova Era Cuadra/Gaggia...
Grinder: Baratza Preciso/K-A Pro...
Drip: Bonavita BV 1800 TH
Roaster: Nesco 1010/Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Feb 6, 2013, 9:00pm
Subject: Re: Helping out a newbie that is overwhelmed with choices
 

My Gaggia Classic is five years old and it didnt come with a pressurized porta filter... somebody mentioned they got a new one and it had that plastic PPF adapter. I recommend taking it out and getting a standard
double basket if it didnt come with one. I dont know what Gaggia is thinking.



ATLDiver Said:

Hopefully I'll steadily improve but so far I'm pleased with the results. One thing I have to work on is my steaming, that by far seems to be the biggest challenge. Thanks to all for the advice....

Posted February 6, 2013 link

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