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La Nuova Era Cuadra - can't pull drinkable shot
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Lonneker
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Feb 2014
Posts: 6
Location: New York, NY
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Feb 25, 2014, 2:56pm
Subject: La Nuova Era Cuadra - can't pull drinkable shot
 

I bought a La Nuova Era Cuadra back in June '13, but have still not  been able to make a drinkable espresso.  Initially, I figured I give it some time, as 'experts' tell you that it may take significant time to get all the variables correct.  However, having now experimented with various coffees/grinds, waters and having descaled it a few times, I am nowhere near close to pulling a drinkable espresso.  Should I start thinking of returning it - which is a massive pain, as it's pretty
heavy and I don't even have the boxes it came in - or do people here have alternative suggestions I may try?

Many thanks!
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SStones
Senior Member
SStones
Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 510
Location: Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Giga 5, ECM Giotto, Rocket...
Grinder: Anfim Milano-Best
Vac Pot: No  :(
Drip: Some $30 thing from Walmart
Roaster: I buy pre-roasted.
Posted Tue Feb 25, 2014, 6:30pm
Subject: Re: La Nuova Era Cuadra - can't pull drinkable shot
 

Do you think there's something actually wrong with the machine?  Ie. Is it burning the coffee badly enough that it tastes burnt?
Is the pump maybe so weak that you get no flow unless the grounds are far too coarse? Does the coffee taste too sour, like the brewing temperature is just too cold?
Have you ruled out the grinder as the problem?
Does the espresso look okay but just taste too bitter/sour/weak?
Does the water from the brew circuit taste and smell okay if you run it through with no portafilter?
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Lonneker
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Feb 2014
Posts: 6
Location: New York, NY
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue Feb 25, 2014, 8:32pm
Subject: Re: La Nuova Era Cuadra - can't pull drinkable shot
 

Many thanks SStones!  Since this machine gets so many raving reviews, I am assuming, at least for now, that it's just me and not the machine.  It's not burning and the pump seems strong enough; I do get sufficient bar.  The water also seems to be running fine.  In fact, I am even able to get some nice looking crema going; it's just that the taste is pretty bitter/sour (but plenty strong).

I should mention that I don't have a grinder; I just get the beans from a local roaster who grinds it for me on the spot.

Many thanks for any additional insights!
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SStones
Senior Member
SStones
Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 510
Location: Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Giga 5, ECM Giotto, Rocket...
Grinder: Anfim Milano-Best
Vac Pot: No  :(
Drip: Some $30 thing from Walmart
Roaster: I buy pre-roasted.
Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 4:16am
Subject: Re: La Nuova Era Cuadra - can't pull drinkable shot
 

Sour/Bitter shots are a matter of the wrong balance of flavours being extracted when brewing.  So...
Temperature is a likely suspect.  Check something after the machine sits and grows stable throughout, so like at least another 20 minutes after the boiler has gotten to the clicking on and off stage to maintain temp...  Once it's stable, with no portafilter  in place just raise the control lever and watch the water on the showerface filter as it escapes from the brew head. Is it boiling on the showerface surface?  When the machine has become completely thermally stable, the water inside the heat exchanger will be well above the boiling boint (Same temp as the boiler water). What brings this down to brewing temperature is the water that the pump is pushing into the heat exchanger. This means that you can look at the first 5 or so seconds of flow to determine that the water from the head is in fact at a good temp.
If the first 5 seconds is not boiling, then it's likely that something is wrong, either with the flow pattern through the thermosyphon loop or just with the boiler temp.  If it is boiling for much longer than 5-8 seconds than it's lkely that the pump isn't moving water quickly enough, or a flow issue in the loop...
If your cooling flush is 5-8 seconds, then a steady streem of not boiling/bubbling water on the showerface we will assume your brew temp is good and...  Well maybe you're no good...(Kidding)
I have to jump on board with the "Grinder grinder grinder" bandwagon.  Being able to adjust your grind, at least every time the weather changes significantly makes a huge difference.  Brewing espresso that was just ground that previous minute makes a huge difference (And also makes the coarseness a little more forgiving).
Anyway.  Check your cooling flush. If we can determine that it's not a ridiculously out of range brew temp, we can move on to considering pump and flow.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 8,034
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 Wed Feb 26, 2014, 7:36am
Subject: Re: La Nuova Era Cuadra - can't pull drinkable shot
 

by all means follow the above procedure but here it comes.

YOU CAN NOT MAKE ESPRESSO WITHOUT A ESPRESSO QUALITY GRINDER, THE GRINDER IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE MACHINE.

It is hard to understand, I know I had a hard time with the concept myself when I first started. The machine is fine, you are feeding it garbage and as the old saying goes, garbage in..... garbage out.

It is a near impossibility for anyone else to grind for your particular machine on a particular day with a constantly aging coffee. Espresso is all about small things, little changes make a big difference.

Fresh beans are less than two weeks FROM THE DAY THEY WERE ROASTED, then no more than 15 minutes from the time they are ground should pass before you brew espresso, many can taste them aging after only a few minutes after grinding.

Would you have the supermarket cut an apple into 500 small pieces for you to take home because you do not have a knife at home? What happens? The fruit will turn to brown mush, it will be rotten. The same thing happens to coffee except the particles are MUCH smaller so the staling happens faster AND the beans are brown to start with so you do not SEE it happening but it IS.

 
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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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,506
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 8:26am
Subject: Re: La Nuova Era Cuadra - can't pull drinkable shot
 

Lonneker Said:

Many thanks SStones!  Since this machine gets so many raving reviews, I am assuming, at least for now, that it's just me and not the machine.  It's not burning and the pump seems strong enough; I do get sufficient bar.  The water also seems to be running fine.  In fact, I am even able to get some nice looking crema going; it's just that the taste is pretty bitter/sour (but plenty strong).

I should mention that I don't have a grinder; I just get the beans from a local roaster who grinds it for me on the spot.

Many thanks for any additional insights!

Posted February 25, 2014 link

You just answered your own question, can't use preground beans, grounds go stale in like 15 min when ground as fine as espresso. And plus that shops grinders are dialed in for their machines (if they know what their doing) not yours. In short, impossible to pull drinkable espresso without your own quality grinder and fresh roasted beans ground for each shot right before use. You could have all other parameters and cooling flush down pat, and coffee would still be terrible b/c it's preground.
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Lonneker
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Feb 2014
Posts: 6
Location: New York, NY
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 8:45pm
Subject: Re: La Nuova Era Cuadra - can't pull drinkable shot
 

Many thanks SStones - I checked the temperature tonight and the water that is being released is indeed at boiling temperature.  So I am assuming the temperature is good (At this stage, I have no doubt that I am not...).  Could there be anything wrong with the pump or flow?

In terms of the grinder bandwagon - many thanks to all who have recommended that.  I am fully aware how expert barristas deem a grinder to be key in this process and realize I will have to get one at some point (hard to argue with the garbage in, garbage out-argument).  That said, I fail to understand how you cannot even get a drinkable shot without your own grinder; e.g. I have friends with an EMC Giotto who donít have their own grinder and are able to pull perfectly acceptable shots.  Although not a Nespresso fan, at this stage, I wonder whether that route is just not (so much) more straight forward.

Ok, here it goes: anyone any good recommendations for a (good) grinder?
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SStones
Senior Member
SStones
Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 510
Location: Canada
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Giga 5, ECM Giotto, Rocket...
Grinder: Anfim Milano-Best
Vac Pot: No  :(
Drip: Some $30 thing from Walmart
Roaster: I buy pre-roasted.
Posted Thu Feb 27, 2014, 4:58am
Subject: Re: La Nuova Era Cuadra - can't pull drinkable shot
 

Alright, then. Pump and flow tests.
Question 1. Have you adjusted your relief valve to open at some pressure between 9.5 and 11 Bar?
I'm going to assume not, as this would require tools that most people don't have.  So let's try this.
Stick the tip of a spoon down the back of the control lever to activate the button that activates the pump. (Ie. lever still down so valve is closed, but button engaged so machine thinks lever is up).  The pump will run for a couple seconds as the pressure builds in the heat exchanger and brew circuit...  Then that pressurized water will have to go somewhere, or the pump will stall. What happens?  Does the water come over the relief valve and drain into your drop tray at the back left corner?  Does the pump stall?  Does the water get past the valve and come out at the group head?  Does your boiler pressure start rising quickly above range?

Don't run the machine like this for more than 10 seconds at a time. It is stressful to the pump and the pump can overheat running for a long time with no water flowing.

Have you tried your coffee on your friend's ECM?  This might only further encourage you to buy a grinder.
I don't know what else to suggest at this point.
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canuckcoffeeguy
Senior Member
canuckcoffeeguy
Joined: 22 Aug 2013
Posts: 239
Location: Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Magica, Mypressi...
Grinder: K10PB, Vario, Hario Slim
Vac Pot: I have a Dyson vacuum, but,...
Drip: Aeropress, Bialetti Brikka,...
Posted Thu Feb 27, 2014, 5:19am
Subject: Re: La Nuova Era Cuadra - can't pull drinkable shot
 

Lonneker Said:

That said, I fail to understand how you cannot even get a drinkable shot without your own grinder; e.g. I have friends with an EMC Giotto who donít have their own grinder and are able to pull perfectly acceptable shots.  Although not a Nespresso fan, at this stage, I wonder whether that route is just not (so much) more straight forward.

Posted February 26, 2014 link

Lonneker, please listen to everyone who is trying to help you. You can't make espresso without a capable grinder. The following grinder guide by Coffeegeek founder, Mark Prince, is worth reading. I recommend checking it out:

Click Here (coffeegeek.com)
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,506
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Thu Feb 27, 2014, 5:54am
Subject: Re: La Nuova Era Cuadra - can't pull drinkable shot
 

Lonneker Said:

Many thanks SStones - I checked the temperature tonight and the water that is being released is indeed at boiling temperature.  So I am assuming the temperature is good (At this stage, I have no doubt that I am not...).  Could there be anything wrong with the pump or flow?

In terms of the grinder bandwagon - many thanks to all who have recommended that.  I am fully aware how expert barristas deem a grinder to be key in this process and realize I will have to get one at some point (hard to argue with the garbage in, garbage out-argument).  That said, I fail to understand how you cannot even get a drinkable shot without your own grinder; e.g. I have friends with an EMC Giotto who donít have their own grinder and are able to pull perfectly acceptable shots.  Although not a Nespresso fan, at this stage, I wonder whether that route is just not (so much) more straight forward.

Ok, here it goes: anyone any good recommendations for a (good) grinder?

Posted February 26, 2014 link

B/c you simply can't, not possible lol. Your friends and you may think it's acceptable but guarantee it's not b/c its what you guys know, but that's a complete waste of an expensive machine, be like going out for a burger and only going to nasty McDs b/c it's acceptable to them ;) .  It's like when a friend bought a Quickmill and was using a local stores grinder and beans and thought the coffee was good, I come over and I'm like dude no offense this is sh!t lol. Think like cal said, take and apple and cut it up in a few slices, it'll take a little while to start going stale and brown, cut it up into a ton of little pieces and it'll brown and stale in a few minutes. Your "grinds" have to be fresh for espresso and dialed in to your machine, you could go to 10 shops and get all their grinders swapped to each other and not be able to pull a shot b/c it's not dialed for the machines in that shop.

You don't even have to spend a ton for a great grinder, a Baratza Vario is a bargain for what it offers, $400 range and can be found under that when refurbed if Baratza has on (check their site on Thursdays for updates).

Nespresso or other similar systems are not even close to a semi-auto and grinder setup, but they have their place for convenience.
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