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Espresso noob just bought 1st machine (advice/tips?)
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Espresso noob...  
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Timmer78
Senior Member
Timmer78
Joined: 6 Dec 2012
Posts: 12
Location: New Mexico
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Quick Mill QM67
Grinder: Baratza Vario/Bodum Bistro
Vac Pot: none
Drip: Technivorm KBG-741/Hario V60
Roaster: Fresh Roast SR500
Posted Thu Jan 24, 2013, 6:55pm
Subject: Re: Espresso noob just bought 1st machine (advice/tips?)
 

So I got back today after reading through your posts and tried the WDT method for grind distribution.

Success!!!

The pressure is reading right at 9bar, it takes approx 5-6 seconds for the espresso to start flowing and it has a nice creamy texture :) I used 17g of beans and it barely covered the top of the portafilter before tamping
I know everyone says about 25 seconds is the average time for espresso, but I wasn't sure if it would stop on its own or not, so I shut off the pump around 35 seconds because it was still pouring light brown water into the cup.

Now I really have no frame of reference for what qualifies as good espresso. The one shot I had at our local coffee shop used a Starbucks machine with their beans. The taste was really really bitter,  and had an ashy aftertaste!  That's the only espresso I've ever had! I'm not sure if I made a good shot or not, but I do know it was much much better than that shot I paid for at that coffee shop. I know I'm probably crazy for buying the machine without even knowing whether I like espresso, but I figured the milk based drinks would be worth it alone.

I made my first cappuccino after a few good espresso shots with organic whole milk. My sister try out.  She's asking for sugar to sweeten it. I'm not sure if that means I'm not making the espresso right or not. I guess I should go to a decent cafe and see what a quality cappuccino tastes like, but I don't know of any in Southern New Mexico :(

Finally, I want to thank everyone for the advice, it really helped :) Now I guess I'm going to experiment varying the grind size/volume of grind and see how it affects the shot. I have a long way to go, but I've already learned a lot in the past few days so I'm looking forward to it.
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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 Fri Jan 25, 2013, 3:48am
Subject: Re: Espresso noob just bought 1st machine (advice/tips?)
 

Timmer78 Said:

Success!!!

Posted January 24, 2013 link

Excellent! Yes, you still have a lot to learn, but now you can be on your way.  Your machine does not have volumetric dosing, so you'll have to stop the pump when the shot is finished. Use the guidelines you mentioned as reference, but you should stop when it starts blonding (goes from caramel colour to whitish streaks, then pale) Stop before it leaves white stained crema. As you say, difficult to know what you are striving to make when you havn't tasted it before, but at least you can work on improving the shots you make. I'd suggest only tasting the straight shots for now, and add at least equal parts milk (or more), or you'll likely struggle to enjoy them. Firstly because they probably aren't all that great at this point, and secondly because your palate likely isn't ready for straight espresso yet. Read, pull shots, enjoy and ask questions.
Cheers.
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Timmer78
Senior Member
Timmer78
Joined: 6 Dec 2012
Posts: 12
Location: New Mexico
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Quick Mill QM67
Grinder: Baratza Vario/Bodum Bistro
Vac Pot: none
Drip: Technivorm KBG-741/Hario V60
Roaster: Fresh Roast SR500
Posted Sat Jan 26, 2013, 12:29am
Subject: Growing pains
 

Well I've gone through about 3/4 lb of the beans that came with the machine from chriscoffee now, here's where I'm at.

17g-17.5g seems to be the right amount of grinds for volume in portafilter. I'm having a little trouble getting consistent pulls even with WDT method, seems a little watery at times, other times it's good. I'm finding it a little difficult determining when to stop the stream as it's not exactly an immediate change from caramel color to watery stream.

My espresso shots are usually quite bitter, I'm getting plenty of crema. Not sure how to adjust this, as changing grind size takes me out of that 25second window for pulling the shot. If I add a lot of milk to the shot the bitterness is blunted, but the people I've given samples of cappuccino to say it needs sugar, it's not sweet enough.

I've been steaming/frothing using the guide here on coffeegeek, but I"m using organic whole milk. My last few tries at frothing have resulted in almost no texture, basically hot milk. My procedure for frothing/steaming the milk is to keep the tip right at the top of the milk until it gets to 100f, then bury the tip at the bottom until about 145f. Most of my tries have resulted in bubbles at the top that I can scoop off, with the rest mostly heated milk, no texture.

I'm going to run out of beans here in another day, so I guess I'll have to experiment with the grinder again when my next order comes in from PT's Coffee (southpaw espresso roast). Could anyone suggest what variable I should try adjusting first to address the bitter espresso shots?

- Tim
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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 Sat Jan 26, 2013, 4:51am
Subject: Re: Growing pains
 

Timmer78 Said:

My espresso shots are usually quite bitter, I'm getting plenty of crema. Not sure how to adjust this, as changing grind size takes me out of that 25second window for pulling the shot. If I add a lot of milk to the shot the bitterness is blunted, but the people I've given samples of cappuccino to say it needs sugar, it's not sweet enough.

Posted January 26, 2013 link

Bitterness is usually a sign of overextraction. The 25sec time is just a guideline. You don't have to stop at 25 sec, but when the shot starts blonding. Yes, this is difficult to determine, but gets easier as you get used to what the shot looks like during the pull. I still find this difficult with a portafilter spout as I use a bottomless 90% of the time. What volume (or even better, weight) is your shot? Weigh/tare the shot glass and measure the pour. If you are using 17g of coffee, a good starting point is a 34g shot.
Temperature can also have an effect. Too hot = bitter and too cold = sour. But the most important is getting grind right first, then tweaking with temp.

Timmer78 Said:

I've been steaming/frothing using the guide here on coffeegeek, but I"m using organic whole milk. My last few tries at frothing have resulted in almost no texture, basically hot milk. My procedure for frothing/steaming the milk is to keep the tip right at the top of the milk until it gets to 100f, then bury the tip at the bottom until about 145f. Most of my tries have resulted in bubbles at the top that I can scoop off, with the rest mostly heated milk, no texture.

Posted January 26, 2013 link

So for the first stage, are you getting that chu chu chu sound? This incorporates small amounts of air (small bubbles). If you do too much at once, it is too close to the top of the milk and get big bubbles. Once you get the air in, you need to mix. That is why you plunge the steam tip. Not necessarily to the 'bottom' but to a point where you get a nice whirlpool and where you don't hear any more air being introduced but see everything mixing well. This takes a bunch of practice, so don't sweat it that you aren't there yet.
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