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idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > idiots guide to...  
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,427
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
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Posted Fri Jun 15, 2012, 10:17am
Subject: Re: idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?
 

My copy hangs, framed, next to the custom cabinet I built which is bolted to the wall over my coffee bar in the. You betcha!

The "middle" position at rest does nothing. Lifting the lever slightly will pre-infuse the coffee IF the machine is plumbed. It will still preinfuse a bit even if not plumbed, but you risk a flash boil.

I HIGHLY recommend downloading the owner's manual for the Vibiemme Domobar Double from either 1st-line or Espressocare.com. I spent a lot of time creating drawings and fully explaining the operation of the E-61 group. It contains a lot of other general info as well that you may find educational. Lots of pretty pictures if not..  ;-)

There is also two articles on my site that address maintenance and repair of the E-61. One has a video how-to on lubrication of the group.

Don't worry about what you wife thinks or says. You are going to be so busy you won't hear a word she says, and by the time her voice cuts thought she will be so addicted to your excellent coffee it won't matter.  :-)

 
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mig
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Posted Fri Jun 15, 2012, 1:36pm
Subject: Re: idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?
 

Video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bsj9Q-N-mNU

I pre-weighed the beans to ~15g (the best I can do with this scale) which seems easier than weighing the portafilter but kind of defeats the purpose of the hopper.  I think my tamp was slightly off level - didn't notice this when I was doing it.  I am extracting into a measuring cup only because I am still working on technique and trying to get the right shot time.

The shot in this video isn't from the same grind and tamp because I was messing with grinder settings, but the technique should have been virtually identical.  I did pay more attention to keeping it level on subsequent attempts.

The grinder setting seems *very* sensitive.  The first shot I pulled this morning took about 30 seconds so I tried to make it a little courser but accidentally made it finer and it wouldn't extract.  My next two attempts were equally disastrous as they were way too fast.  In the end I restored it to the factory setting yet again, which seems to be the only thing that works.  I guess I don't want to adjust by more than 1-2 notches at the maximum.

By the way frcn:

> by the time her voice cuts thought she will be so addicted to your excellent coffee it won't matter.  :-)

She says "good luck with that" because she is a tea drinker.  ;-)
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,181
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Fri Jun 15, 2012, 1:53pm
Subject: Re: idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?
 

I'm not sure I understand your grinder problem.  You say you've adjusted by notches, but isn't the Mazzer Mini stepless?  Also, you were getting a shot at 30 seconds at one point.  That's almost spot on to standard, and perfectly fine for some people.  You should be able to microadjust from there as desired.  Whenever you change your grinder setting, you should make at least a mental note of where it was before you changed it and how much you changed it, so you can go back where it was, or find an inbetween spot.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess your dosing is inconsistent.  however, maybe you've got distribution problems too?

Check out oldwillknott for digital 0.1 gm scales.  they have good prices and great service, and numerous styling varieties.

For the wife, keep track of what you spend (machines, accessories, coffee, milk, sweetener, etc) - then calculate how much it would cost you to go to barefoot everyday for a year or two, and show her how much you're saving.

also, follow Randy's advice (frcn) in his east guide article...it's awesome!

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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mig
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Location: Santa Clara, CA
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Posted Fri Jun 15, 2012, 2:53pm
Subject: Re: idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?
 

It is stepless but there are notches for reference - see image below.  At first I was adjusting by 5-6 notches and the result was much more dramatic than I expected.  In fact I have dumped every single shot I've ever tried when *not* using the factory setting, so I am disinclined to mess with it anymore until I know what I am doing and/or have a compelling reason.

I started weighing my beans this morning in an effort to regulate the dose and thus far the two shots I pulled with factory grinder settings have been decent - certainly good enough for a latte.  For distribution I tried stirring with a paper clip - not quite WDT since I don't have a funnel but a step in that direction.  I assume my unlevel tamping is also a contributing factor.

I only had to dump 60% of my shots this morning.  Definitely better than yesterday.  Maybe I should temporarily switch to decaf so I can get more practice! :D  Just kidding.  I think.

mig: grinder_adjust_v1.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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rabbit
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Espresso: v.3  miss sylvia
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Posted Fri Jun 15, 2012, 3:37pm
Subject: Re: idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?
 

a scale   www.oldwillknottscales.com
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emradguy
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emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
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Location: Houston
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Posted Fri Jun 15, 2012, 4:47pm
Subject: Re: idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?
 

mig Said:

It is stepless but there are notches for reference - see image below.  At first I was adjusting by 5-6 notches and the result was much more dramatic than I expected.

Posted June 15, 2012 link

ok, to help me understand...is there a screw-like mechanism you turn to make it rotate?  if so, how many times do you have to turn it to make it move a notch?  My Macap is a similar class machine and although it too has notches, there's a screw-drive mechanism you rotate to make the wheel turn.  I don't ever look at the notches, but I can say this...I turn the screw anywhere from about 30 degrees to make micro adjustments, and may go up to 180 degrees to help dial in a new batch, but I would fathom to say, that's not even close to one notch.

 
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greattemper
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greattemper
Joined: 25 Mar 2012
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Posted Fri Jun 15, 2012, 4:53pm
Subject: Re: idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?
 

mig Said:

Video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bsj9Q-N-mNU

The shot in this video isn't from the same grind and tamp because I was messing with grinder settings, but the technique should have been virtually identical.  I did pay more attention to keeping it level on subsequent attempts.

Posted June 15, 2012 link

So what is your problem with the videoed shot? looks great to me. Most important is how does it taste?
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mig
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Posts: 14
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

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Posted Fri Jun 15, 2012, 5:38pm
Subject: Re: idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?
 

emradguy Said:

ok, to help me understand...is there a screw-like mechanism you turn to make it rotate?

Posted June 15, 2012 link

If you look at the picture I posted above there is a black lever at 10:00.  The level screws right into the edge of the dial (the part with the bumpy edge) so one notch/bump is really just a few degrees.  Its quite possible there are other factors at play but based on my (limited) experiences so far it appears to be extremely sensitive, certainly a lot moreso than I would have expected.
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BlueHawk
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Joined: 15 Jun 2012
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Posted Fri Jun 15, 2012, 5:52pm
Subject: Re: idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?
 

Sorry - but I can't help to post a further reply. I'm almost as new to semi automatic espresso brewing as you are - after some year with a Saeco Incanto fully automatic "push the button and you will get a decent cup of coffee."

A month ago I settled for an ECM Classica II and a Mahlkönig Vario grinder, added a calibrated tamper and a calcium water filter - and fetched an electronical weight and a stopwatch. Arranged it all on the kitchen table and set off.

Wonder over all wonders: My first real espresso tasted like Heaven - far better than any espresso I have tasted in Italy or France.

The next 20 shots varied fra bad to awfull !

I felt, that the brewing temperature was too low, so I disembled the machine and changed the termostat setting from 75 C to 90 C.

Next I kept all parameters steady: filter, tamping pressure (13,6 kg), brewing time (22 sec), grinding and varied only the amount of grinded coffee. My Vario has a timer function, so it was relativly easy.

After experimenting with the amount of coffe, I kept that parameter steady and changed the grinding fineness - still tasting my way through one shot after another. It was really kind of fun, even if the shots were awfull.

By by and by my shots became more consistent - and now I make a very good, sweet and not very strong Americano for my wife - and a gift from the God of Espresso for myself - most of the times, anyway.

Så try, try and try again. For every shot you will aquire a little more experience. And the more systematic, the faster you will get good results.

The process is a lot of fun, so ... Good Luck.

(By the way, I'm an old danish fart, so sorry for the bad language and spelling)
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mig
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Joined: 8 Jun 2012
Posts: 14
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rocket Espresso Giotto...
Grinder: Mazza Mini
Posted Fri Jun 15, 2012, 6:19pm
Subject: Re: idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?
 

greattemper Said:

So what is your problem with the videoed shot? looks great to me. Most important is how does it taste?

Posted June 15, 2012 link

Maybe I should have posted videos of my three previous attempts. ;-)  As far as I know, the only difference was the grinder setting.

If you see no glaring errors in my technique, that's encouraging.  The challenge now is to make this repeatable.  That particular shot went into a particularly yummy latte (the art was laughable, so we don't need to go there) so I just pulled another one to taste.  I am pleased to report that not only is it repeatable, but its delicious!  The single biggest adjustment I made since starting this thread is to dose by weight.  In theory I should be able to control the dose with the grinder timer, but now that I am starting to "taste" success, I'm not going to mess with it.

What I've learned since yesterday:
- dose by weight.  I was definitely "over-dosing" before, which is why I started messing with the grinder settings.
- Mazzer factory settings are a good starting point, and I have no clue how to adjust the grind
- even distribution requires more than a level surface before tamping
- tamping pressure doesn't need to be extremely precise, as long as its level
- even I can brew yummy espresso!

Thanks all for the great tips, I am feeling a lot better now.
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