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Brewtus IV not consistently reaching maximum brew pressure
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BrianEnos
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Oct 2013
Posts: 23
Location: AZ
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Wed Oct 30, 2013, 4:57pm
Subject: Brewtus IV not consistently reaching maximum brew pressure
 

Background:
Six years of experience with a Brewtus II, before getting the Brewtus IV. I am extremely mechanically oriented, and am a master at elimating variables from a specific sequence of events. AKA: Captain Troubleshooter.

Grinder: Baratza Vario.
Coffee: David Schoomer's Vivace (used the same brand / type of beans for 7 years).
Tamper: Espro (30 lb. "breakaway")

I bought the Brewtus IV in May, 2013. Since I was moving from the Brewtus II, I figured I'd have the Brewtus IV dialed in pretty quick, which turned out not to be the case. I am unable to get consistent, maximum brewing pressure from it.

After grinding, packing and tamping, there is 16.4 - 16.6 grams of coffee in the portafilter, every time. With the Espro tamper, when the portafilter goes into the machine, from shot to shot, the dosed / packed shot as about as consistent as it can be.

Before making the first shot of the day, I'll run water through the brew group for about 15 seconds, or until the pressure steadies out at 2.5 - 3 bars.

Doing everything exactly the same every time, the machine brews with one of three distinct scenarios.

Scenario 1.
Perfectly: The coffee starts to come out at 10 - 12 seconds, then steadily sweeps up to the target brew pressure of 8.8 bars, producing an awesome double shot of 2 - 2.5 ounces in 25 - 28 seconds.

Scenario 2.
It never reaches maximum brew pressure. After about 10 - 12 seconds, instead of sweeping up to 8.8 bars, the pressure stops at 7 bars, and never goes any higher no matter how long you leave the pump running.

It is not a bad gage reading, because when the gage is at 7 bars, the pump sounds like it's still struggling (and the machine is strongly vibrating) - the pump does not have the nice, "smoothed out" sound like does when it is brewing at 8.8 bars.

Scenario 3.
The same as the second scenario, except for about after 25 - 28 seconds, the pressure goes from 7 bars to 8 - 8.2 bars (never reaching maximum pressure, not matter how long the pump runs).

During scenarios 2 and 3, there is never water leaking from the bottom of the brew group.

After several tech calls to wholelattelove, they finally realized I knew what I was talking about and had me send the machine in for repair. About 3 months after that, they returned the machine, and the ticket said the "pump assembly" had been replaced.

At first I thought the machine was actually fixed; once I dialed in the grind, the first 6 shots brewed perfectly, as desribed in scenario 1. But sadly, the machine began not consistently reaching maximum brewing pressure, as desribed in scenarios 2 and 3.

Scenario occurence percentages:
Scenario 1: 35 - 40%
Scenario 2: 50 - 55%
Scenario 3: 5 - 10%

After hundreds of shots - there is not a pattern as to which scenario will brew. It may brew 6 or 7 perfect shots in a row, then back to scenario 2 for a while. Or it may brew 2 or 3 scenario 2's, then one good one... No matter what I have tried, which scenario will brew is totally unpredictable.

At this point, I don't know what to do. I have a couple thousand dollars invested in this machine, and after 5 months, including sending it back for repairs, I cannot get a consistent shot out of it.

Any ideas, things to check, or things to try will be greatly appreciated.

Brian Enos
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fnacer
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Feb 2007
Posts: 464
Location: Denver
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Salvatore E61, Vivaldi Mini...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, Gaggia MDF,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Oct 30, 2013, 11:48pm
Subject: Re: Brewtus IV not consistently reaching maximum brew pressure
 

Welcome to CoffeeGeek!

Have you observed the behavior of the machine when you you pull water through the grouphead with no portafilter in place? How about when you use a blind basket? Just trying to think of a way to eliminate unevenly ground (seven-year old) coffee beans from the list of suspects.
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BrianEnos
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Oct 2013
Posts: 23
Location: AZ
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Oct 31, 2013, 11:16am
Subject: Re: Brewtus IV not consistently reaching maximum brew pressure
 

The coffee is only a week or two old. (I've been using the same brand / type of coffee for 7 years.)

With no portafilter or an empty portafilter, the brew pressure is 2.5 - 3 bars.

I thought of something new to observe / check today. I'll watch the water return tube (to the reservoir), and see if there is any difference for bewing scenarios 1 and 2.
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BrianEnos
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Oct 2013
Posts: 23
Location: AZ
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Oct 31, 2013, 1:37pm
Subject: Re: Brewtus IV not consistently reaching maximum brew pressure
 

fnacer Said:

Welcome to CoffeeGeek!
How about when you use a blind basket?

Posted October 30, 2013 link

The pressure stops at 10 bars with a blind portafilter.
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jonr
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jun 2013
Posts: 294
Location: Americas
Expertise: I like coffee
Posted Thu Oct 31, 2013, 2:03pm
Subject: Re: Brewtus IV not consistently reaching maximum brew pressure
 

The symptoms are consistent with either a weak pump or more likely a restriction.
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BrianEnos
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Oct 2013
Posts: 23
Location: AZ
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Thu Oct 31, 2013, 2:17pm
Subject: Re: Brewtus IV not consistently reaching maximum brew pressure
 

jonr Said:

The symptoms are consistent with either a weak pump or more likely a restriction.

Posted October 31, 2013 link

Since wholelattelove said they replaced the pump assembly, where might there be a "restriction"?
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fnacer
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Feb 2007
Posts: 464
Location: Denver
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Salvatore E61, Vivaldi Mini...
Grinder: Mazzer Mini, Gaggia MDF,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Thu Oct 31, 2013, 6:28pm
Subject: Re: Brewtus IV not consistently reaching maximum brew pressure
 

Assuming you don't have a loose piece of scale that is lodged in one of the water lines and is shaped in such a way that it only restricts water some of the time, the most likely possibilities for an "obstruction" would be a failing overpressure valve or a failing three-way solenoid valve.

Watching the water return to the reservoir as you plan to do, will help you diagnose a flaky OPV. Watching the waste water tube from the 3-way valve for any water draining while you are pulling the shot will point to a misbehaving 3-way valve.
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BrianEnos
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Oct 2013
Posts: 23
Location: AZ
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Nov 1, 2013, 3:13pm
Subject: Re: Brewtus IV not consistently reaching maximum brew pressure
 

fnacer Said:

Assuming you don't have a loose piece of scale that is lodged in one of the water lines and is shaped in such a way that it only restricts water some of the time, the most likely possibilities for an "obstruction" would be a failing overpressure valve or a failing three-way solenoid valve.

Watching the water return to the reservoir as you plan to do, will help you diagnose a flaky OPV. Watching the waste water tube from the 3-way valve for any water draining while you are pulling the shot will point to a misbehaving 3-way valve.

Posted October 31, 2013 link

Water never drains from the waste water tube during any shot.

I will keep an eye on the return line.
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BrianEnos
Senior Member


Joined: 30 Oct 2013
Posts: 23
Location: AZ
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Nov 1, 2013, 3:18pm
Subject: Re: Brewtus IV not consistently reaching maximum brew pressure
 

For any Brewtus IV owners... please let me know how your machine compares to this...

With a blind portafilter, from the time I turn on the pump, it takes 8 - 11 seconds for the pressure gage to go past 4 bars, and from 12 - 13 seconds until it reaches max pressure of 10 bars.
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CSME9
Senior Member
CSME9
Joined: 26 Feb 2004
Posts: 276
Location: West Texas
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Isomac Tea, Rancilio Silvia,...
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Moka Pot
Roaster: BBQ Roaster
Posted Sat Nov 2, 2013, 6:54am
Subject: Re: Brewtus IV not consistently reaching maximum brew pressure
 

Friends Brewtus 4 had a similar problem, turned out to be a bad OPV. Was not as easy to get to as most other brand machines since the OPV and the pump aerator valve are connected, so he replaced both as one unit at the same time.
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