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Upgrading which component of my current espresso setup would yield best return?
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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Upgrading which...  
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JFitzpatrick
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Feb 2012
Posts: 31
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Feb 17, 2013, 2:36pm
Subject: Upgrading which component of my current espresso setup would yield best return?
 

First, let me say that I'm pretty happy with my current espresso setup but if there is a specific element of my setup/work flow that would yield a huge increase in convenience/quality of drinks/etc. I'm more than open to suggestions.

Here is the current setup:

Machine: Expobar Office Lever Plus (really happy with the machine, the only complaint I have about it is that it's not plumbed in... and that's my fault for not plumbing it in and has nothing to do with the machine)

Grinders: Gaggia MDF
              Baratza Virtuoso (upgraded burrs and hand calibrated for finer espresso grinding)

Portafilters: Standard double-spot E61 PF with single/double basket
                   Bottomless E61 PF with triple basket

Tamper: Rattleware 58mm tamper (for what it's worth, on all my portafilters it seems like it's a good 1-2mm too small)

Cleaning routine: Flush grouphead after every brewing session, (try to remember to back flush after every session, but realistically probably only do this every third session), backflush and clean with Cafiza every weekend. For reference the machine pulls 4-7 shots a day in average use, has a heavy party-mode use once or twice a month where I might pull 20-25 shots in a day.

Is there anything else about the machine or the workflow with the machine that would be helpful to outline?

Right now the thing I'm least pleased with is the grinder setup. I use the Gaggia for regular espresso beans and the Baratza for decaf beans (my wife can't drink consume caffeine and I like having it available for guests/late afternoon espresso cravings). Both grinders strike me as just-good-enough for my purposes, however, and I dislike significant things about them both. The whole grounds hopper with the paddle wheel on the Gaggia is really annoying (there's no good way to grind just the amount you need and you usually end up with grounds all over the counter). The Baratza is better in that it drops the grounds right into the portafilter but no matter what I do the thing is a staticky monster that flips grounds in a 6-8 inch arc around the machine.

Based on my gear and my description of what irks me about said gear, where would you all suggest I start looking to potentially upgrade/fix my annoyances?
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Coffeenoobie
Senior Member
Coffeenoobie
Joined: 11 Dec 2011
Posts: 3,052
Location: PNW
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: N S Oscar
Grinder: K30 & Vario W
Posted Sun Feb 17, 2013, 9:19pm
Subject: Upgrading which component of my current espresso setup would yield best return?
 

I made a funnel out of yogurt container to keep the grinds in.

This is what I do, but you can use the yogurt funnel on your portafilter and it will fix one of your gripes.

Coffeenoobie: basket.jpg
(Click for larger image)

 
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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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,225
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 Mon Feb 18, 2013, 9:32pm
Subject: Upgrading which component of my current espresso setup would yield best return?
 

Since you asked...you'll see a huge improvement in your shots when you upgrade your grinders. Get into the mazzer mini class or better. (Not saying buy a mini, just something in that class or higher).

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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Buckley
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Feb 19, 2013, 12:18am
Subject: Re: Upgrading which yada yada yada
 

Dear JFitzpatrick,
Since you are bottomless, are you checking your outflow to see if there is channeling or not?  Emradguy is right, a premium grinder would make a big difference, but making sure channeling was under control by WDT (Weiss Declumping Technique ) is an inexpensive 'step up', if needed.  Finally, I am amazed at how the palate can get used to the gradual deterioration of coffee flavor is we begin to get lax and keep premium beans around, or frozen, for longer and longer periods of time.  Many of us become lax about this.  I do not roast much (air popper), but I am always amazed at how better coffee tastes only 1 or 2 days after roasting and resting, compared to even sitting one week.
So:
  1. Grinder
  2. Technique
  3. Habit

Buckley
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takeshi
Senior Member
takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
Posts: 1,006
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Alex Duetto 3.0
Grinder: Super Jolly
Roaster: Amaya Roasting
Posted Thu Feb 21, 2013, 11:51am
Subject: Re: Upgrading which yada yada yada
 

The typical recommendation: grinder.
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