JFitzpatrick Senior Member Joined: 8 Feb 2012 Posts: 21 Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Sun Feb 17, 2013, 3:36pm 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?
Buckley Senior Member Joined: 25 Jan 2011 Posts: 412 Location: Baltimore, USA Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Londinium I, Olympia Maxima,... Grinder: Compak K-10 WBC, Gaggia MDF Drip: Hario V60 Roaster: Nondescript popper
Posted Tue Feb 19, 2013, 1:18am 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:
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