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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Shot quality...  
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pillguy
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Dec 2003
Posts: 38
Location: Houston, TX
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky, with doser
Posted Sun Jul 4, 2004, 9:09am
Subject: Shot quality question
 

I have a Rocky/Silvia, currently using all standard group equipment.  I have my Rocky on +5 (absolute zero is about +1), tamping about 20 lbs, 1 single 90 degree tamp.  I am using LaVazza Super Crema currently.  I just opened the bag 4 days ago, but not sure when it was roasted.  While I am getting decent crema, it is nothing like I see at the SCAA and barista competitions.  Also, I am getting a bit of pressure liquid leakage from the grouphead when pulling shots.  What should I do to get the crema flowing, with no residual back pressure and leakage?  I let the machine and portafilter heat for 30 minutes or so, then run water through the portafilter before pulling the shot.  I am using the standard double shot basket.  Here are the options, as I can see them.

  1.  grind too fine. Go coarser and tamp harder
  2.  grind not fine enough.  Try finer with lighter tamp
  3.  coffee is stale.  get locally roasted beans
  4.  get a LM basket instead of the standard



What do you all recommend?
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malachi
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malachi
Joined: 5 May 2002
Posts: 1,761
Location: SFCA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Monster Mia (for now)_
Grinder: Monster Cimballi Junior
Vac Pot: Not any more
Drip: never
Roaster: Ecco, Stumptown, Intelli,...
Posted Sun Jul 4, 2004, 9:36am
Subject: Re: Shot quality question
 

how does it taste?
do you like it?

really, that's all tha matters. visual appearance is far less important (and a good looking shot that tastes like crap is worthless as compared to an ugly shot that tastes wonderful - of course).

if you could describe the flavours, what you do or don't like and what you'd like to see change in the flavour profile that would be helpful.

also - what volume and extraction time are you seeing, and do you have rough brew temp measurements?

when it comes right down to it - you're probably setting the bar rather high. that's a good thing, in some ways, but it can be frustrating. using mass market beans, with home equipment and trying to equal what the top pro baristi get out of speciality roasted beans on top commercial equipment is going to be a challenge...

for what it's worth...

1 - the date you opened the bag on is far less significant that the time from roast date. personally, i always suggest folks avoid buying any beans that are not roast dated.
2 - most pro baristi tend to tamp at least 30 lbs and either follow the traditional tamp style (soft tamp, tap, hard tamp, polish) style or the new Staub tamp style (four quadrant tamp, no tap, with polish).
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jrtATL
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jrtATL
Joined: 20 Feb 2004
Posts: 1,035
Location: Austin TX
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Expobar Office Control
Grinder: Mazzer Jolly; Cunill...
Drip: Melitta Clarity
Roaster: Drum on a Weber grill; HG/DB
Posted Sun Jul 4, 2004, 9:53am
Subject: Re: Shot quality question
 

pillguy Said:

coffee is stale.  get locally roasted beans


What do you all recommend?

Posted July 4, 2004 link

I think this is the problem.  If you want thicker/richer espresso with more crema, you MUST use fresh beans.  Fresh means roasted less than 7 days ago.  I like beans that are about 2-4 days old.

My experience with Lavazza and Illy are that you can make a decent (not great) espresso for about an hour after you open the bag or can.  After that, the beans seem stale.

I recommend home roasting if you have the time and desire.  It makes all the difference.

Jeremy

 
"I've appeared before every court in the state.  Often as a lawyer." - Lionel Hutz, Esq.
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neddisc
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Apr 2004
Posts: 40
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Giotto
Grinder: Rossi RR45, Anfim Haus
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos and Electric...
Drip: Braun
Roaster: FR+8
Posted Sun Jul 4, 2004, 9:57am
Subject: Re: Shot quality question
 

I think number 1 and 3 on your list should be explored.

Also, how do your pucks look?  If you have leakage and a syrupy puck, I would say you are too fine, and there is too much resistance.  I would try to grind a little coarser and tamp at 30 to 40 lbs. (I have a cheap bathroom scale from walmart, which I tamp directly on) and see how that works.  If you get up to 35-40 lbs., and still have gushers go finer.  Take a little taste after each, as you get closer, the taste will move from a bitter, over extracted sometimes even burnt taste (if you are too fine) to a sweeter, more syrupy taste in my experience.  If you are too coarse in your grind, it will taste like coffee, or worst, burnt water.

Local beans are usually better.  If you can find a commercial roaster that sells to the public and get his roasting schedule, that works really well I find.  Also, if you have time to roast your own that is good.  Once you get your grinder dialed in check your crema color.  Tan to off-white = too old.  Brown with dark brown speckles = fresh.

Lastly, do not totally rely on the numbers on the grinder.  Every time you remove the upper assembly and replace it the numbers will be a little different depending on where the threads started to grab.  So, basically, everyone has numbers that are a bit different.  Better to use the number of clicks from where the grinding discs stop touching.
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pillguy
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Joined: 16 Dec 2003
Posts: 38
Location: Houston, TX
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky, with doser
Posted Sun Jul 4, 2004, 10:12am
Subject: Re: Shot quality question
 

What do you do to remedy the leakage issue?  Is that a sign the coffee is too packed or grind is too fine?  Do I need to lessen the pressure?
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HB
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Joined: 3 Apr 2003
Posts: 2,913
Location: Cary, NC
Posted Sun Jul 4, 2004, 10:46am
Subject: Re: Shot quality question
 

Even if you pulled into a blind basket, there should be no leakage.  If your gasket is new, check that it is clean and the portafilter is tight enough.  I passed the "red dot" on my Silvia to get a good seal.  Try jiggling the loosely engaged portafilter while running the pump ("wiggle washing").  That should rinse off any stray grounds.

-- Dan

 
www.home-barista.com
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pillguy
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Dec 2003
Posts: 38
Location: Houston, TX
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky, with doser
Posted Sun Jul 4, 2004, 11:18am
Subject: Re: Shot quality question
 

Will do.  Thanks
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neddisc
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Apr 2004
Posts: 40
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Giotto
Grinder: Rossi RR45, Anfim Haus
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos and Electric...
Drip: Braun
Roaster: FR+8
Posted Sun Jul 4, 2004, 11:38am
Subject: Re: Shot quality question
 

When I have ground too fine or packed to hard, after about five seconds the machine sound becomes more high pitched and nothing comes out the spouts(like a backflush) but also nothing comes out the top so I would also question the gasket.  

The other problem could be the placement of the portafilter.  For example, are you putting so much coffee in the portafilter that you can barely get the portafilter on and it is barely seated?  I don't mean to insult you, but I have seen it.  Basically, the same position the handle is in when the portafilter is empty and on the machine is the same position it should be when grounds are in it.

Another way to clean stray grounds besides the wiggle is with a Qtip, most preferably after the machine has cooled.
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pillguy
Senior Member


Joined: 16 Dec 2003
Posts: 38
Location: Houston, TX
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Silvia
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky, with doser
Posted Sun Jul 4, 2004, 12:29pm
Subject: Re: Shot quality question
 

neddisc Said:

When I have ground too fine or packed to hard, after about five seconds the machine sound becomes more high pitched and nothing comes out the spouts(like a backflush) but also nothing comes out the top so I would also question the gasket.  

The other problem could be the placement of the portafilter.  For example, are you putting so much coffee in the portafilter that you can barely get the portafilter on and it is barely seated?  I don't mean to insult you, but I have seen it.  Basically, the same position the handle is in when the portafilter is empty and on the machine is the same position it should be when grounds are in it.

Another way to clean stray grounds besides the wiggle is with a Qtip, most preferably after the machine has cooled.

Posted July 4, 2004 link

I use the group head brush to clean the gasket each time after I brew, generally 3 times per day.  There may be some stray grounds between shots ( I sometimes pull 2 or 3 shots at a time).  I will make sure I wipe all the grounds off the portafilter top before brewing again.  Thanks for the suggestions.  

UPDATE:

I tried a coarser grind on the LaVazza super crema (+8) on the Rocky, with a tamp as follows:  
  1.  tap portafilter with coffee in it on the counter a few times to settle the grounds.  
  2.  15 lb tamp, 90 degree angle
  3.  tap portafilter with tamper to get grounds off side of top
  4.  30 lb tamp


then I pull the shot.  This seems to work very well.  I will give it a few more tries, then let everyone know.  Maybe my grind was a bit fine.  I am still very interested in getting some local roasts that are fresh to try.  http://www.javacoffee.com is very close to me, and they have quite a few espresso roasts.  I might give them a try.  

Thanks again.
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neddisc
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Apr 2004
Posts: 40
Location: Montreal
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Giotto
Grinder: Rossi RR45, Anfim Haus
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos and Electric...
Drip: Braun
Roaster: FR+8
Posted Sun Jul 4, 2004, 1:04pm
Subject: Re: Shot quality question
 

Great to hear.  Good luck.
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