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What's wrong with my ECM Giotto?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > What's wrong...  
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salayc
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Apr 2010
Posts: 22
Location: los angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Giotto
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Vac Pot: Tach
Drip: Krups
Posted Mon Dec 9, 2013, 8:27am
Subject: What's wrong with my ECM Giotto?
 

I have a 10-12 year old ECM Giotto I purchased used. When I received it, it had a bad relay, so I sent it out to be replaced. After I got the machine back, I cleaned it and then disassembled, cleaned out and reassembled the pump. It worked OK, but was inconsistent.
5-6 months ago, I sent the machine to Hitechespresso where Dave installed a PID controller, cleaned out the boiler and rebuilt the group head. For the first week, the machine was perfect. Gradually it degraded.
About a month ago, I replaced the pump with a new Ulka and could hear a difference, but quality did not improve.
Lastly, I reduced the PID temperature from 245 deg f to 225 and 220 which seemed to help. Hitechespresso swears by 245 degrees but that seems way too hot. At 245 the boiler pressure is reading about 1 bar, at 220 degrees it's reading less than 1/2. (measurement taken from the built in meter which of course could be off)

Coffee is better at 220-225 degrees, but it's still pretty thin. When I first reduced the temperature, I got better extraction and more light caramel thick crema, but after a week or so, it's back to thin crema.

The machine is back flushed with detergent about once a month and with a blind portafilter and just water about once a week. I tried back flushing more, but it didn't help. My grinder is a Rancilio Rocky, my preferred beans are Intelligentsia Black Cat. I would love to get a result that's even approaching what Intelligentsia does in their shops.
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,394
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Mon Dec 9, 2013, 9:06am
Subject: Re: What's wrong with my ECM Giotto?
 

"Thin coffee," and "thin crema" aren't usually associated with temperature.  They most often result by some combination of beans, distribution, and/or the correct balance of dose and grind.  Thin or no crema in particular is a sign of stale beans.  But somethings in your post caught my eye while others seemed absent:

...I reduced the PID temperature from 245 deg f to 225 and 220 which seemed to help. Hitechespresso swears by 245 degrees but that seems way too hot. At 245 the boiler pressure is reading about 1 bar, at 220 degrees it's reading less than 1/2. (measurement taken from the built in meter which of course could be off)

Coffee is better at 220-225 degrees, but it's still pretty thin. When I first reduced the temperature, I got better extraction and more light caramel thick crema, but after a week or so, it's back to thin crema.

The PID in an HX adjusts boiler steam pressure and temperature only, and should have NOT be used to control the temperature of the brewing water which requires a controlled cooling flush.  

Other than the PID, how do you temp?

It's almost certainly an unrelated problem, but a Rocky is more of an obstacle which must be overcome than a competent grinder, and its weaknesses will limit the overall potential of your system.  I suggest replacing it with something significantly better.  

BDL
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salayc
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Apr 2010
Posts: 22
Location: los angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Giotto
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Vac Pot: Tach
Drip: Krups
Posted Mon Dec 9, 2013, 10:07am
Subject: Re: What's wrong with my ECM Giotto?
 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the PID on this machine is connected to the boiler and gives a reading of water temp at the boiler once the water and outside of boiler reach equilibrium. The pressure gauge is another way of determining temperature based upon the pressure of heated water as it expands inside the boiler.
Setting the PID to 245 (from my understanding) would mean the water temp typically would drop to around 220 degrees at the brewhead or about 20 degrees above ideal. At 245 degrees the pressure gauge reads factory correct (i.e. 1 bar) but that seems too high to me, perhaps it's not.

I have considered replacing the grinder as it always seems I am between ideal grinds. 1 notch too fast, next notch too slow a pull. A Vario or Mazzer Mini seem to be the next step, but I want to make sure I'm not missing something with the machine.
It's entirely possible that my better espresso has been a coincidence rather than a result of the work done on the machine.

In answer to the question, I only use the PID or the built in pressure gauge as my temperature gauge.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,947
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 Mon Dec 9, 2013, 10:08am
Subject: Re: What's wrong with my ECM Giotto?
 

Hi there.
The PID will do nothing to improve your coffee. It may be a little quieter than the Pstat was and likely it will have a longer life but it regulates the temp of the boiler water, not the brew water, they are two different things.

As a HX machine, you MUST flush the HX system before each shot and esp if the machine has sat for a while. The boiler should be reading about 1.3 to 1.4 bar so at 1 bar you are a bit low on the boiler temp.

My guess is that your problem has always been the quality of your coffee and it's age. Old coffee is thin or no crema at all. How old is it FROM THE DAY IT WAS ROASTED? To that, Rocky is just able to grind for espresso, the steps are too wide and it is very hard to get the grind correct between the giant steps.

I suspect that if you set the boiler to what the manufacturer made the machine to operate at, 1.4 bar or about 230F to 245F or so, properly flushed before your pull and used fresh beans after replacing the grinder with a better one, your problems will all go away.

 
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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salayc
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Apr 2010
Posts: 22
Location: los angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Giotto
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Vac Pot: Tach
Drip: Krups
Posted Mon Dec 9, 2013, 10:13am
Subject: Re: What's wrong with my ECM Giotto?
 

calblacksmith Said:

Hi there.
The PID will do nothing to improve your coffee. It may be a little quieter than the Pstat was and likely it will have a longer life but it regulates the temp of the boiler water, not the brew water, they are two different things.

As a HX machine, you MUST flush the HX system before each shot and esp if the machine has sat for a while. The boiler should be reading about 1.3 to 1.4 bar so at 1 bar you are a bit low on the boiler temp.

Posted December 9, 2013 link

For the PID, I did know before adding it that it was, let's call it a convenience. I.e. I wanted to know the boiler temp and eliminate that variable.

Typically I flush before each shot to stabilize the temp, but it really has made no difference.

The coffee I have used has been anywhere from 1 day to 1 week after roasting. Here in Los Angeles, it's pretty standard to get freshly roasted beans.

If I can narrow it down to the grind, 245 deg. and 1 bar + it is. That's the easy part, the hard part will be selecting a grinder...
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,947
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 Mon Dec 9, 2013, 11:15am
Subject: Re: What's wrong with my ECM Giotto?
 

salayc Said:

For the PID, I did know before adding it that it was, let's call it a convenience. I.e. I wanted to know the boiler temp and eliminate that variable.

Typically I flush before each shot to stabilize the temp, but it really has made no difference.

The coffee I have used has been anywhere from 1 day to 1 week after roasting. Here in Los Angeles, it's pretty standard to get freshly roasted beans.

If I can narrow it down to the grind, 245 deg. and 1 bar + it is. That's the easy part, the hard part will be selecting a grinder...

Posted December 9, 2013 link

OK so you know about the PID. :D
At the low temp you are setting the PID to, you may not be getting the group head to temp and the water in the HX system may not be getting to it's temp either, you should be seeing a healthy flash to steam then settling down, the water dance.

I am just over the hill from you in Riverside, LA is not bad but still it is much easier to get old stale coffee rather than new fresh coffee, it just depends on where you shop. There are several good roasters available to us such as Klatch, Kean and Intelly, I know there are others too but these are the ones I go to over and over again.

Check out the video I did to show the water dance, you should be seeing the same water show.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3_nwQxk7q0

 
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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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,394
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Mon Dec 9, 2013, 11:50am
Subject: Re: What's wrong with my ECM Giotto?
 

salayc Said:

For the PID, I did know before adding it that it was, let's call it a convenience. I.e. I wanted to know the boiler temp and eliminate that variable.

Posted December 9, 2013 link

Boiler temp/pressure (same thing really because PV = nRT in this unverse) isn't a brew variable.  Temping technique, on the other hand...

Typically I flush before each shot to stabilize the temp, but it really has made no difference.

If you can describe your flushing technique in detail (for instance when you stop the flush, how long you wait before pulling the shot, etc.) we may be able to at least eliminate temping as the problem.  

The coffee I have used has been anywhere from 1 day to 1 week after roasting. Here in Los Angeles, it's pretty standard to get freshly roasted beans.

Yes it is.  Intelli in particular is certainly very good about freshness.  

If I can narrow it down to the grind, 245 deg. and 1 bar + it is. That's the easy part, the hard part will be selecting a grinder...

I don't know enough about the Giotto to venture an opinion.  On the other hand, Dave (Hitechespresso) does.  

BDL
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steamer
Senior Member
steamer
Joined: 11 Feb 2005
Posts: 901
Location: socal
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Expobar Brewtus IV R
Grinder: Mazzer Mini-B Baratza...
Vac Pot: Krubs Moka Brew, vacPot
Drip: TechV, and many more
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Mon Dec 9, 2013, 12:32pm
Subject: Re: What's wrong with my ECM Giotto?
 

LA Roasters, here is a list, not memtioned was Pollys in long beach, Verve coming to downtown LA in 2014.

Click Here (blog.zagat.com)
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,947
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 Mon Dec 9, 2013, 5:00pm
Subject: Re: What's wrong with my ECM Giotto?
 

We moved to Long Beach in 1962, I grew up there. I would not include Polly's in the list. They are no better than any other chain shop now in malls everyplace. Such as Its a grind etc. Pollys does roast but little attention is paid to the age of the coffee, if you ask, they have no idea when it was roasted, at least in any Polly's coffee shop I have been in, they could not say. YMMV!

 
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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salayc
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Apr 2010
Posts: 22
Location: los angeles
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: ECM Giotto
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Vac Pot: Tach
Drip: Krups
Posted Mon Dec 9, 2013, 9:20pm
Subject: Re: What's wrong with my ECM Giotto?
 

PID back up to 245, after watching the flushing video to confirm I am doing it correctly, I pulled shots today.
While my temp. surfing didn't include a long enough flush by comparison, the higher temp and longer flush didn't make too much of a difference. The higher temp / proper flush made a better tasting espresso than without the longer flush, but still doesn't have the thick extraction I am looking for. The current beans I am using are Black Cat from a bag opened one day ago. I don't have the bag here to see if there's a roast date, but I am assuming it's pretty recent. Considering I am getting a consistent result with different beans over time, I don't think this is a freshness issue.
I am willing to try a new grinder to see if that improves the result and relegate the Rocky to drip coffee. How does the Mazzer Mini sound as a next step?
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