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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 17, 2013, 10:17pm
Subject: Espresso noob just bought 1st machine (advice/tips?)
 

Hi guys,
         I hope this is the best place on the forum to pose this kind of question. I just purchased my first espresso machine a few days ago, it's scheduled to arrive in the mail next Wednesday. I did what I usually do and jumped in the deep end so to speak before learning how to swim. I have never made a shot of espresso before, or any milk based espresso drink. I've never even seen someone make an espresso using anything but a one button push type machine with no tamping/grinding etc. I guess what I'm trying to ask is if anyone has any suggestions that might make my learning experience a little less painful/costly on the wallet (considering wasted beans pulling bad shots). There's just so much information out there it'd be nice to know where I should start.

Here's a few important (I think) notes on my setup:

a) I'm roasting my own beans from sweetmarias with a SR500 so my beans are fresh. I don't know if I should be roasting to a certain level other than what they print on the bag. The beans I'm roasting now say they make a great SO expresso, so hopefully the beans are covered?

b) The espresso machine is a QM67, a dual boiler semi automatic. I purchased the unit from www.chriscoffee.com. The only bad thing I've heard about the machine is it's recommended you froth/steam your milk first if making milk based espresso drinks. I've read milk when frothed separates quickly and can degrade the quality of the cappaccino etc while waiting for the espresso shot to finish.

c) I live in the SW and we have really hard water. I was planning on using my water cooler which is supplied by an RO system, but the rep selling the machine said to use tap or some other source that has minerals. I found additives they sell on seattlecoffeegear that you put in distilled water to harden it to the desired level for coffee, is this overkill? Maybe there's a better way to solve my water issue?

d) I bought the espro auto tamp, it clicks when the proper pressure is reached when tamping the grinds

e) I purchased the Baratza Vario grinder and plan on dialing it in and only using it for my espresso machine. Of course I have no experience grinding beans for espresso other than what I've read online

Given the info I posted, do you think I have my bases covered so I'm ready to start pulling decent shots when the machine arrives next week? I'd love to hear any comments/advice anyone might have. Thanks for the help :)

- Tim
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frcn
Senior Member
frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
Posts: 3,403
Location: Northern California
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: Vibiemme Domobar Double
Grinder: Mazzer Kony, Baratza...
Vac Pot: Hario, 2 Cory pots, 1 Cory...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Bunn A10 mod...
Roaster: computer controlled Hottop,...
Posted Thu Jan 17, 2013, 11:12pm
Subject: Re: Espresso noob just bought 1st machine (advice/tips?)
 

ANSWERS/COMMENTS to...:
A - Whether the roast works for espresso will be found in time. The correct roast and blend is the one you prefer... at the moment.
B - That is a freakin' awesome machine as a starter rig! You should be able to steam the milk as the shot is extracting. I find that milk suffers more than the espresso when it sits. Again, experiment and do what works best for you. Doing both at once will be a challenge when you start out until you become more comfortable with the gear.
C - Use the RO water and add some tap water or bottled drinking water to it. It is correct that the machine depends on some mineral content to operate properly.
D - The Espro tamper feels good in the hand (I like mine), but don't worry about the tamping force so much. It matters the least in the process, just as long as it is level. Proper distribution of the coffee in the basket is more important. When it clicks, if you press a little harder you may find the coffee will not compress further. That varies with the grinder being used, but it points towards the unimportance of tamping force. Smash it and go!  ;-)

On my website www.EspressoMyEspresso.com, check out this article: 12 - EASY GUIDE TO BETTER ESPRESSO AT HOME. Some of it may be a bit foreign to you as you start but it should make for an excellent reference as time goes along.

And generally, worry less and just  keep making espresso. Relax and enjoy the journey- it is a long one and worth enjoying.

 
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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 Wed Jan 23, 2013, 10:58pm
Subject: Re: Espresso noob just bought 1st machine (advice/tips?)
 

Thanks for the advice Rich! I read those links several times, at least I know I'm not doing sometime right :O

FYI,
   The machine just arrived today along with the Vario grinder. I had a fun time getting the grinder calibrated correctly, it must have been set really coarse because even after I thought I had calibrated it, it was still pushing out french press type grinds. I think I have it calibrated properly now though as it's finally doing what the manual says it should when it's calibrated correctly.

Anyway, I pulled 3 shots today. I wish I could say they came out decent, but they were all horrible. I can tell from video's online and your tasting guide that it's way off, it's basically making drip coffee not espresso. It's weird though, i put the backflush portafilter on the machine and I'm getting 10bar pressure so the machine is set to the right pressure. During the brew though the pressure guage indication drops down to around 4bar and the liquid just comes out all thin and pale, basically coffee flavored water.

What I dont understand is the liquid coming out being so thin means my grind isn't fine enough right? Why then is my pressure dropping so low while brewing? The manual says if it drops below 8bar its probably because I ground the beans too fine, but there's no restricted flow it just comes gushing out like regular water....weird.  

Any ideas?
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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 Thu Jan 24, 2013, 3:46am
Subject: Re: Espresso noob just bought 1st machine (advice/tips?)
 

Timmer78 Said:

What I dont understand is the liquid coming out being so thin means my grind isn't fine enough right? Why then is my pressure dropping so low while brewing? The manual says if it drops below 8bar its probably because I ground the beans too fine, but there's no restricted flow it just comes gushing out like regular water....weird.  

Any ideas?

Posted January 23, 2013 link

You are right. The puck is not offering much resistance to flow, so you are unable to generate pressure. Ways to increase pressure: make finer grind and increase dose in the basket. I suspect these are in the right ballpark. So that leaves 2 major issues that could be causing your problem.

  1. Your beans are too old or too fresh. How long since you roasted. Beans must first off-gas for ~3days or so before they can be used successfully. Of course there is an optimal time in their lifespan but too fresh means ++CO2 and bubbling gushing espresso shots. If too old, you will get similar problems to above. Must be no older than 2weeks from roast.

  2. You are getting channeling. A bottomless portafilter can help diagnose this problem. Are there holes that go through the puck when you take it off the grouphead (look along the edges of the basket). If so, water is escaping through the point of least resistance and not flowing through the puck properly. Work on basket distribution techniques. WDT is one (look it up) where you stir the grinds with a fine object to break up clumps. Also, ensure you are tamping close to the edges of the basket to seal along the side as this is the site most prone to channeling. I use a nutating tamp (where you sort of roll/rock the tamper along the edges lightly first to seal the basket, then tamp)
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CSME9
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CSME9
Joined: 26 Feb 2004
Posts: 281
Location: West Texas
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Mitica Top, Spaz...
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Moka Pot
Roaster: BBQ Roaster
Posted Thu Jan 24, 2013, 6:22am
Subject: Re: Espresso noob just bought 1st machine (advice/tips?)
 

See QM 67 shot attached, use freshly roasted coffee, and grind finer for about a 25 second shot at approx 10 bar.

CSME9: QM 67 R.gif
(Click for larger image)
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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 Thu Jan 24, 2013, 9:38am
Subject: Re: Espresso noob just bought 1st machine (advice/tips?)
 

CSME9 Said:

See QM 67 shot attached, use freshly roasted coffee, and grind finer for about a 25 second shot at approx 10 bar.

Posted January 24, 2013 link

Great. So problem solved? What was issue?
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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, 10:22am
Subject: Re: Espresso noob just bought 1st machine (advice/tips?)
 

diggi Said:

Great. So problem solved? What was issue?

Posted January 24, 2013 link

- Unfortunately that wasn't my machine it was CSME9's, so I'm still experimenting to figure out the problem.

Thanks for that info for WDT method, I think that's most likely my issue. When I examined the portafilter I'm pretty sure the grinds weren't perfectly level, and judging from the article I looked up it looks like I wasn't using enough grinds. The beans I'm using shipped with the machine from chriscoffee.com (black pearl espresso roast), there was no roast date on the bag so it's hard to tell if they're less than 2 weeks old.

Now I just need to find something at wal-mart or lowes that I can use to stir the grinds. In the article I read about the WDT method the author used a dissecting needle and I'm pretty sure there's nothing like that in stores where I live.
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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, 10:26am
Subject: Re: Espresso noob just bought 1st machine (advice/tips?)
 

CSME9 Said:

See QM 67 shot attached, use freshly roasted coffee, and grind finer for about a 25 second shot at approx 10 bar.

Posted January 24, 2013 link

On the 3 pulls I did I had to stop the shot myself after 30 seconds and the 6oz cup was overflowing.

  • When you say 25 second shot, does that mean you flip the lever to cut off the brewer at 25seconds? Or will the espresso stop flowing after 25 seconds if it's distributed/tamped/ground properly?
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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 Thu Jan 24, 2013, 10:31am
Subject: Re: Espresso noob just bought 1st machine (advice/tips?)
 

Timmer78 Said:

- Unfortunately that wasn't my machine it was CSME9's, so I'm still experimenting to figure out the problem.

Thanks for that info for WDT method, I think that's most likely my issue. When I examined the portafilter I'm pretty sure the grinds weren't perfectly level, and judging from the article I looked up it looks like I wasn't using enough grinds. The beans I'm using shipped with the machine from chriscoffee.com (black pearl espresso roast), there was no roast date on the bag so it's hard to tell if they're less than 2 weeks old.

Now I just need to find something at wal-mart or lowes that I can use to stir the grinds. In the article I read about the WDT method the author used a dissecting needle and I'm pretty sure there's nothing like that in stores where I live.

Posted January 24, 2013 link

Ha, my bad. I was skimming and thrown off by that post. I use a piece of spaghetti for WDT. Pretty cheap and always have a new one at hand; uncooked of course :) Instead of a 'needle' (could get a darning needle or something if you wanted), I'd get a pocket scale to weigh your dose. That will ensure you are dosing properly, and replicate each time.
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Coffeenoobie
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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 24, 2013, 10:59am
Subject: Re: Espresso noob just bought 1st machine (advice/tips?)
 

I use a stainless steel turkey lacer they come 6 or so to a pack and are about 5 inches long with a loop on one end.  It is for trussing up the body of a turkey and most cooking stores and on line should have it.  I could mount it on a handle or a wine cork I just have not.  I can also etch with them.  The uncooked spaghetti is a good idea as well.

 
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