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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Newbie Questions  
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Red90
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Jan 2013
Posts: 3
Location: vancouver
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Breville Cafe Roma
Grinder: Baratza Encor
Posted Wed Jan 2, 2013, 3:24pm
Subject: Newbie Questions
 

Hello everyone.... I'm hoping some of you may be able to give me some guidance as a new owner of some espresso equipment.

I just bought a Baratza Encore coffee grinder with a Breville Cafe Roma espresso machine.  I know that by all accounts this is not anywhere near the capability of the equipment many of coffeegeek people have, but I would still like to be able to utilize this equipment to it's potential before moving on.


First of all I'd like to say... I really don't know that much about anything....  Everything from equipment, to types of coffee beans to coffee lingo.  All I really know is how I like my coffee.  Which is smooth, bold in taste, but not gut wrenching strong.  I hate sour tasting coffee and always drink with milk.  So I don't even know the difference between good or bad espresso quality.

So, I pulled my first espresso yesterday... unsuccessfully the first time.  I had the grind setting at 5, which made the machine hardly drip anything out.  I then went to a setting of 10 which produced a decent quality espresso, however I felt it tasted a bit watery, but strong at the same time.  (I'm not sure if that makes sense or not).  I went to a setting of 8 on the grinder, which produced a espresso that was not watery, but very strong and a bit sour.  It made my stomach queezy afterwards.  I may have a weak stomach mind you.

So I'd like to get some suggestions to figure out how to get a better espresso.  I've bought Illy coffee beans, and I'm using the plastic tamper that came with my machine.  I haven't been able to measure the volume that is coming out yet and I've just been counting the amount of time for the pull.

I know there will be a lot of trial and error involved in getting a decent espresso out of this, but I'd like to field out so suggestions that will constructively allow me to figure out the optimal grind/tamping pressure/bean to allow me to utilize this machine fully.

  1.  Should I maintain the grind setting, and then adjust the tamping pressure and gauge how the espresso is by the amount of volume that comes out in 20-25 sec?

  2.  Other way around... maintain a certain tamping pressure and adjust the grinds to get the right volume in the 20-25 sec range?

  3.  Adjust the amount of coffee weight I'm putting in the portafilter

  4.  Experiment with the type of coffee beans


There just seems to be so many variables I don't even know where to start.  At the end of the day, from the last pull I made.... I want the shot to be not as strong, not as sour, but I don't want to get watery as well.  I'm not sure if I'm just out to left field here, but  I'm looking for a taste that is bold with depth and flavour, but not necessarily strong.  Does that even make sense??

Any help would be appreciated
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Red90
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Jan 2013
Posts: 3
Location: vancouver
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Breville Cafe Roma
Grinder: Baratza Encor
Posted Wed Jan 2, 2013, 4:58pm
Subject: Re: Newbie Questions
 

Sorry, newbie mistake even on the forum... doh.. can the moderator move this to the espresso section....
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CraigA
Moderator
CraigA
Joined: 19 Dec 2001
Posts: 11,245
Location: Rexdale, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: PID/PressureMod 2001...
Grinder: BUNN FPG-2 DBC, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos manual, Yama 5...
Drip: Behmor BraZen, BUNN VPR-APS,...
Roaster: Refurb Behmor 1600, BBQ...
Posted Wed Jan 2, 2013, 5:24pm
Subject: Re: Newbie Questions
 

Thread moved from Coffee: Questions and Answers to Espresso: Questions and Answers.

 
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Excellent coffee doesn't just happen!
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diggi
Senior Member
diggi
Joined: 28 Nov 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Halifax, NS
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Spaz vivaldi S1 V2
Grinder: B Vario, OE LIDO
Drip: Chemex, Espro Press,...
Roaster: Poppery I
Posted Wed Jan 2, 2013, 6:41pm
Subject: Re: Newbie Questions
 

Feel bad nobody has given you a kick in the right direction yet. I'll hopefully start the ball rolling. You need to check out some threads about dialing in your grinder. Are you using the pressurized portafilter or have you upgraded to a real portafilter (I think that is the stock one with this machine, but believe you can use a non-pressurized portafilter=ability to make real espresso)

Red90 Said:

Should I maintain the grind setting, and then adjust the tamping pressure and gauge how the espresso is by the amount of volume that comes out in 20-25 sec?

Posted January 2, 2013 link

No. Keep your tamp constant; aim for 30lbs. Basically just any pressure as long as it is the same each time.

Red90 Said:

... maintain a certain tamping pressure and adjust the grinds to get the right volume in the 20-25 sec range?Adjust the amount of coffee weight I'm putting in the portafilter

Posted January 2, 2013 link

Yes and yes. For starters, pick a weight like 15g for instance. Then adjust grind for around 2oz in 20-30sec. Play around with strength until you are happy; ie; 2 oz vs 1.5oz, etc. Then you can vary dose up or down until it tastes right. You will need to coarsen grind as you increase dose, and make grind finer as you decrease. There are some guidelines for how to make desired changes in your shot quality, but at this stage, don't worry about that so much as you'll likely overthink it, or get yourself so confused that you'll stop doing what is most important in the early stages....pull lots and lots of shots. Taste, adjust, etc.

Red90 Said:

Experiment with the type of coffee beans

Posted January 2, 2013 link

Sure. Make sure you are getting fresh roasted beans. This site has many recommended roasters for good quality beans.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,113
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Wed Jan 2, 2013, 8:52pm
Subject: Re: Newbie Questions
 

There's so much to comment on...

With that gear, you're at the fringe of "espresso able". The encore has 40 steps going from coarse to fine. You're likely going to find that one setting is slightly too fine and then the next step over is slightly too coarse. You'll have to modify your dose accordingly. First, get fresh beans - roasted within the past 2 weeks. Then go back to oh, about 6, on your grind setting. Grind and dose, and then time your shot. Then taste it. If it runs too long by a lot and is too bitter, go to 7 and try again. If it's slightly off in that direction keep it at 6, but reduce your dose slightly...say a few tenths of a gram. If you're still not there, go coarser again or decrease the dose more. if it runs too fast and is sour go down to 5 again or increase your dose. Every roast is different, so you'll have to play with these parameters again each time. Also, as beans age and weather changes, you'll need to modify your grind finer or updose once you get it dialed in. Think slight dose changes for just a few more or less seconds and one step setting changes for greater changes in shot timing.

Read the easy guide to better espresso at home on www.espressomyespresso.com it's article 12, about midway down the right hand column, under how to.  It's one of the best trouble shooters out there!

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,030
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Thu Jan 3, 2013, 11:13am
Subject: Re: Newbie Questions
 

You will need a scale that does .1 gram to fine tune your dose.  Change one variable at a time to dial in your shot.  The pressurized baskets make it so you can get an espresso like drink with a grinder that is less than ideal.  When you swap to depressurized you will find the dialing in of the grinder to be harder because of the steps your grinder has.   You want no steps or very fine steps so you can make fine adjustments.  This will make more sense to you once you start to get better shots.  It is really hard to grasp till you have seen it in person.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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Red90
Senior Member


Joined: 2 Jan 2013
Posts: 3
Location: vancouver
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Breville Cafe Roma
Grinder: Baratza Encor
Posted Sat Jan 5, 2013, 7:55am
Subject: Re: Newbie Questions
 

Thank you everyone for your responses.  I have been making some headway on getting some good espresso... at least in my newbie tastebuds.  I've settled down to a grind setting of about 9 to 10 right now.  9 seems to take too long to pull and comes out a bit too strong and bitter. 10 is borderline of just strong enought to a bit weak.  If I give it a good tamp with a bit more pressure it seems to be pretty good.  I have not played with the dose yet.  All I have been doing is grinding and leveling the portafilter before tamping it.  I guess that's another variable I can play with.  I just need to get a scale to measure it out.  I may be able to use a setting of 9 with less dosing.

Also I was wondering if changing to a non-pressurized filter would be good with this entry level machine.  I think my grinder can do the espresso grind.  But I'm not sure if my machine can use a non pressurized basket as it's not designed for it.  Would the pressure be inconsistent or just not be able to handle the non pressurized basket.

Oh also... just on the maintenance side... whenever I finish making an espresso shot and take the portafilter out... it's a mess with water...  Is this normal?
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,030
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sat Jan 5, 2013, 10:32am
Subject: Re: Newbie Questions
 

I personally do not believe with your grinder you can do depressurized.  I personally believe you need the better models of that brand of grinder to make espresso without the pressurized basket.  The problem you are having dialing in the grinder now shows you how you need steps in between 9 and 10.  So, that will be more noticeable without the pressurized basket.

 
Coffeenoobie

Buying advice: GRINDER GRINDER GRINDER. Don't cheap out on the grinder.

My coffee treasure map...
Click Here (maps.google.com)

Oscar trick out: http://s156.photobucket.com/user/GandBteam/story/14231
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