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Getting watery espresso or nothing at all.
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Getting watery...  
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BlakeF
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 15
Location: WA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Oscar
Grinder: Orphan Espresso Pharos
Posted Sun Dec 11, 2011, 4:47pm
Subject: Getting watery espresso or nothing at all.
 

I am through about 2lbs of coffee now with my espresso machine and my results are getting worse.  I did change the type of coffee on my second bag which might be the issue but I finally got a scale and began to dial in my grinder (with help from Home Barista) but the results I have been getting are terrible.  I either get watery light brown or nothing at all.  I have tried various amounts of coffee from 13-16 grams but I still seem to be able to get watery coffee or nothing (at all amounts 13-16 grams)

Any suggestions?  At the end of my first bag I was getting decent shots but I had no scale and my grind setting was completely unmarked.
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sweaner
Senior Member
sweaner
Joined: 16 Nov 2007
Posts: 1,125
Location: Yardley, PA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Vetrano, Arrarex Caravel, La...
Grinder: Mazzer SJ, OE Pharos
Drip: Bunn Trifecta MB
Roaster: Poppery II
Posted Sun Dec 11, 2011, 7:53pm
Subject: Re: Getting watery espresso or nothing at all.
 

Are you using FRESHLY ROASTED coffee, no more than 10 days post-roast?

 
-Scott
“Coffee - the favorite drink of the civilized world.”
Thomas Jefferson
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BlakeF
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 15
Location: WA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Oscar
Grinder: Orphan Espresso Pharos
Posted Sun Dec 11, 2011, 7:58pm
Subject: Re: Getting watery espresso or nothing at all.
 

Yes it is freshly ground and the roast date is Nov 29.  So I suppose it is past 10 days now but I was having the same problem early last week.
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Vivaldi
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Nov 2010
Posts: 182
Location: Minnesota
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: Spaziale Vivaldi II
Grinder: Mazzer Super Jolly
Drip: Technivorm
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Sun Dec 11, 2011, 8:13pm
Subject: Re: Getting watery espresso or nothing at all.
 

Maybe if you mention which machine you are using, and grinder, it would help w/answers.
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BlakeF
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 15
Location: WA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Oscar
Grinder: Orphan Espresso Pharos
Posted Sun Dec 11, 2011, 8:15pm
Subject: Re: Getting watery espresso or nothing at all.
 

Oh sorry, for some reason I though it displayed my machine and grinder under my username.  

I am using an OE Pharos grinder and a NS Oscar.
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Venia_Coffee
Senior Member
Venia_Coffee
Joined: 5 Oct 2011
Posts: 13
Location: Seattle, WA
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: Izzo Alex II HX
Grinder: Mahlkonig
Vac Pot: Yama TCA-5D
Drip: Sowden
Roaster: Taehwan
Posted Sun Dec 11, 2011, 8:48pm
Subject: Re: Getting watery espresso or nothing at all.
 

Could be many things, will list a few that come to mind:

Too coarse of a grind
Old beans or poorly roasted coffee
Not tamping with enough pressure
Under temperature extraction
Too low of extraction pressure

It could be caused by something else entirely as well, but these are good places to start for trouble shooting.

The NS Oscar does not have any pressure gauges on it if I remember correctly, so it makes diagnosing pressure related problems a bit more difficult unfortunately.  I would start by only changing one factor with each trial, and eliminate or confirm each possibility.  

The first three items are easy enough to trial, but the second two are not with this machine.  A low temp extraction can produce some really thin espresso.  In a pinch, preheat a shotglass and frothing thermometer with brew water.  Then, without a portafilter in place, engage the pump and measure the temperature brew water temp by filling up the shot glass.  This is ball park, and will likely give you a reading several degrees below your actual brew temp.  If your water is well below 200, say 190 or below, I would take it in for service.  

If it is around 200, move on to pressure.  Without a special PF with designed to read group brew pressure, this is challenging for the DIY'er.  Some things to watch out for though.  There are two points that the pressure could likely take a dive: a miss calibrated OPV (which is in place to reduce the 14-15 bar pump pressure to the more ideal 9-9.5 bar brew pressure), and a failing 3 way solenoid valve.  

While not for everyone, and exposing yourself to risk electrical shock, if you open the machine and pull a shot while squeezing the return hose from the OPV, does this noticeably increase brew pressure or extraction pressure? If so, it could point to a mis calibrated OPV.  

As for the solenoid valve,  while you are brewing, do you notice water emptying into the drip tray?  You should notice a discharge of water after you end a pull, but not during.   If so, the valve has failed and could be contributing to low brew pressure.  If after a pull you notice a very wet puck, this could also indicate a failing 3 way valve.  Sometimes a good backflush will remedy this.  

Hope this helps.  Again it is not a complete nor exhaustive list of possibilities, just a few of the more common ones.  

Let us know what you find out.  

One closing thought would be what your steam pressure is like?  If it is weak, it could point to a P-stat issue with trickle down effects on brew temp.
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BlakeF
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 15
Location: WA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Oscar
Grinder: Orphan Espresso Pharos
Posted Sun Dec 11, 2011, 9:06pm
Subject: Re: Getting watery espresso or nothing at all.
 

My machine has a pod adapter and is able to pull a pretty good shot from an Illy pod without problem.  My portafilter basket has a edge upon which my tamper catches which makes me wonder if I need to get a better filter without the edge so I can get more pressure in the tamp. I don't think the issue is too coarse of grind but it could be an issue with the beans...even though I think they are pretty good.

Steam pressure is very strong...no problems there.
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Venia_Coffee
Senior Member
Venia_Coffee
Joined: 5 Oct 2011
Posts: 13
Location: Seattle, WA
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: Izzo Alex II HX
Grinder: Mahlkonig
Vac Pot: Yama TCA-5D
Drip: Sowden
Roaster: Taehwan
Posted Sun Dec 11, 2011, 9:24pm
Subject: Re: Getting watery espresso or nothing at all.
 

BlakeF Said:

My machine has a pod adapter and is able to pull a pretty good shot from an Illy pod without problem.  My portafilter basket has a edge upon which my tamper catches which makes me wonder if I need to get a better filter without the edge so I can get more pressure in the tamp. I don't think the issue is too coarse of grind but it could be an issue with the beans...even though I think they are pretty good.

Steam pressure is very strong...no problems there.

Posted December 11, 2011 link

If that is the case, which is good, it points to grind, tamp, or bean.

Are you using a single basket?  Not sure what you mean by edge in the basket.  A single will taper considerably, while the double should not.  If you have a single in use, swap it for the double and try dosing around 18 grams and see if you have better success.  If you are using a double and your tamper is catching the side walls, try upping your dose a few grams and see if that helps.
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Vivaldi
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Nov 2010
Posts: 182
Location: Minnesota
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: Spaziale Vivaldi II
Grinder: Mazzer Super Jolly
Drip: Technivorm
Roaster: Hottop
Posted Sun Dec 11, 2011, 9:28pm
Subject: Re: Getting watery espresso or nothing at all.
 

To add to the last post, the OPV has a drain outlet on the left side of the drip tray.  The 3 way valve outlet is on the right side.  On mine, the OPV lets water through while brewing, so I put in a longer drain line back into the water tank.

You said, I either get watery light brown or nothing at all.  So that means either watery coffee or nothing comes out of the group head?  That sounds odd, as the former means the water is flowing through too quickly, and the latter means it's not flowing at all.

If you run it without the portafilter, does water flow out of the group head?  

Since steam is strong, it doesn't sound like a temp issue.

Has the machine been descaled?  It is recommended that this be done every 2-4 mo., and backflushing every 2 weeks.
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BlakeF
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 15
Location: WA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Nuova Simonelli Oscar
Grinder: Orphan Espresso Pharos
Posted Sun Dec 11, 2011, 10:18pm
Subject: Re: Getting watery espresso or nothing at all.
 

When I get watery coffee it takes about 25 seconds to fill up two shot glasses so it doesnt come out too fast like a course grind.... probably a tamping issue.  I am using the double shot basket.  My machine cannot be descaled without taking it apart because it is heat exchanger that has no hot water spout.  I have soft water and I run all of the water through my Britta.   Water comes out of the group head without the portafilter like it should.

I will try 18 grams of coffee as well as trying my smaller cheap aluminum tamper and see if I get a better result.
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