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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Newbie getting...  
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ZBoT
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Apr 2013
Posts: 13
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Classic w/ Auber PID
Grinder: Cunil Tranquilo
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 7:15am
Subject: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

First off I would like to introduce myself and say hi!!  I have been lurking around this site for a few months and have learned a lot of great information.  That said I have gotten to a point where I am no longer making progress and my espresso still is not very good.  So I am hoping to get some personalized help from some of the experts out there.  So here is where I am at...

About 3 months ago I purchased a brand new Gaggia Classic and a Cunil Tranquilo grinder.  I was able to make a shot but it was sour every time.  After reading some more it appeared that perhaps low brew temp was causing the sourness.  Not wanting to deal with temp surfing I just went ahead and purchased an Auber PID and installed it.  This did seem to help the sourness but now the espresso is tasting bitter.  The Auber PID came set to 216F so I started lowering the temp to see if that would help.  I kept lowering until I got to ~200F which it then seemed to get sour again.  No where in between was it not sour and not bitter.  The temp seems to be about the best with the PID set to 202F but the results still seem bitter.  Also when I go much higher than this the shot is too hot to drink right away and I have to let it cool.  This seems odd because from most of my reading is that the actual brew temp should be about 200F and to obtain that the PID should be ~10-20F higher.  Anyone with a Classic and Auber PID care to chime in with the SV temp they use?   I know it won't be the same but just curious where others are.  I'm thinking about renting a Scace/Fluke to see where I am really at.  That's just more money though and I'm not sure it is my problem.

Here is how I usually pull my shot:

1.) Grind and measure 17.5g of coffee
2.) Put in coffee in filter and use straight paper clip to WDT
3.) Drop the filter from 6" onto the counter to settle
4.) Tamp lightly, then NSEW and then final tamp and polish
5.) Brew shot

I'm able to get 1.5-2oz in 25-30 seconds though my results just still do not taste that good.  I also thought I might be channelling so I purchased and bottomless portafilter but I am not getting any "squirters".  Could I still be channelling?

If it helps here is a video of my shot a month or so ago before I started lowering the PID temperature: YouTube

Currently I'm buying 5lbs of Redbird espresso and freezing it in vacuum sealed mason jars.  I'm trying to keep the type of coffee the same until I can get it dialed in.  When brewing this coffee in my AeroPress I am getting very strong peanut flavors along with others.  In my espresso none of those flavors come through, not even the super strong peanut flavor.  I'm hoping it is just my technique and not a limit of the equipment I bought.

I tried to be thorough but I'm sure I forget to mention something.  Please let me know if you would like any more information.  I'm really hoping to make this work.  Thanks for reading and any advice you can offer.
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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 Mon Apr 1, 2013, 12:24pm
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

I don't know anything about temp surfing but the video looks good and you are prepping better than me, I always seem to have a sprite or small self healing squirt or even a mist.  You have a nice cone and the color looks pretty good to me from what I can tell from a dark video.

Since the shot looks good to me and you can do the whole range of temps I am going to think it is the beans or the grinder.

It is possible you just don't like the taste of redbird as espresso but do as drip.  Some people just don't like it.  I am having no trouble getting good tasting cups from redbird. I do use about a gram more coffee than you do.  Maybe updose a bit if you have the head space in the basket.  You can try some local beans and get enough so you can test the whole range of temps just like you did with redbird.  Also, with local you can taste what the shot is like there before you go home.  If that doesn't sort out the issue, see if you can borrow another grinder or bring your machine to a friend's house with a larger grinder and see if it is the grinder.  I don't know much about your grinder but it can't hurt to try the same machine and beans in another grinder.  Also taste the redbird on the friend's set up.  That way you can see if it is the beans, machine or grinder.

 
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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fwtechwiz
Senior Member


Joined: 19 Feb 2010
Posts: 530
Location: Fort Wayne, IN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Evolution
Grinder: Hario Skerton
Posted Mon Apr 1, 2013, 3:45pm
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

Your temps at about 202 are dead on.  It sounds to me like you are over extracting due to too high a brew pressure.  Gaggia machines are set from the factory at way too high a pressure for a good extraction without using pods.  I know from experience.  I have an Evolution, (basically the same insides  as a Classic without the three way solenoid valve) and I had trouble getting the shots dialed in until I lowered the pressure.  If you haven't already done it, dial back the OPV to between 9.5 to 10 bar static pressure.  I use Redbird almost exclusively, and rarely dose more than 16 g. for a double, 22 g. for a triple ristretto.

So my suggestion is, lower the brew pressure, dose less and grind just a bit coarser to maintain the 2 oz in 25 to 30 sec. and you will notice the strong nutty taste diminish, replaced by sweet smooth caramel.
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ZBoT
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Apr 2013
Posts: 13
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Classic w/ Auber PID
Grinder: Cunil Tranquilo
Posted Wed Apr 3, 2013, 4:17am
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

Coffeenoobie Said:

Since the shot looks good to me and you can do the whole range of temps I am going to think it is the beans or the grinder.

Posted April 1, 2013 link

I was kind of wondering this myself.  I'm hoping it's not the grinder since I just bought it.

Coffeenoobie Said:

It is possible you just don't like the taste of redbird as espresso but do as drip.

Posted April 1, 2013 link

I also wondered this.  But I also wonder why I cannot taste the peanut/carmel in my espresso like everyone else but I do when I use it in my AeroPress.

Coffeenoobie Said:

Maybe updose a bit if you have the head space in the basket.  You can try some local beans and get enough so you can test the whole range of temps just like you did with redbird.  Also, with local you can taste what the shot is like there before you go home.

Posted April 1, 2013 link

17.5g is about all I can fit in my basket (stock filter that came with the Gaggia).  If I get closer to 18g I start to see an impression of the shower screen screw when I lock in the portafilter and I've read that is bad.

Coffeenoobie Said:

If that doesn't sort out the issue, see if you can borrow another grinder or bring your machine to a friend's house with a larger grinder and see if it is the grinder.  I don't know much about your grinder but it can't hurt to try the same machine and beans in another grinder.  Also taste the redbird on the friend's set up.  That way you can see if it is the beans, machine or grinder.

Posted April 1, 2013 link

I would love to do this but unfortunately I don't know anyone else who is into espresso and has a machine or grinder.

Thank you very much for your response.  It is much appreciated!
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ZBoT
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Apr 2013
Posts: 13
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Classic w/ Auber PID
Grinder: Cunil Tranquilo
Posted Wed Apr 3, 2013, 4:23am
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

fwtechwiz Said:

Your temps at about 202 are dead on.

Posted April 1, 2013 link

So the PID set to 202 sounds about right?  Or are you saying 202 at the brew head sounds right?  I have no way of knowing actual brew head temp.

fwtechwiz Said:

It sounds to me like you are over extracting due to too high a brew pressure.  Gaggia machines are set from the factory at way too high a pressure for a good extraction without using pods.  I know from experience.  I have an Evolution, (basically the same insides  as a Classic without the three way solenoid valve) and I had trouble getting the shots dialed in until I lowered the pressure.  If you haven't already done it, dial back the OPV to between 9.5 to 10 bar static pressure.

Posted April 1, 2013 link

I knew I would forget to mention something.  I did adjust the OPV to 10 bar static.  Perhaps I should go down to 9.5 bar?

fwtechwiz Said:

I use Redbird almost exclusively, and rarely dose more than 16 g. for a double, 22 g. for a triple ristretto.

Posted April 1, 2013 link

What is your normal dose amount?  I find if I dose much less than 17g I get a wet puck that is hard to knock out.  Do you have similar results?

fwtechwiz Said:

So my suggestion is, lower the brew pressure, dose less and grind just a bit coarser to maintain the 2 oz in 25 to 30 sec. and you will notice the strong nutty taste diminish, replaced by sweet smooth caramel.

Posted April 1, 2013 link

Great suggestions!  I think I am going to try and turn the OPV down to 9.5 bar static and grind coarser like you say.  I will try that this weekend and post back my results.

Thanks so much for your suggestions!  They are really helpful!!
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ZBoT
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Apr 2013
Posts: 13
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Classic w/ Auber PID
Grinder: Cunil Tranquilo
Posted Wed Apr 3, 2013, 4:38am
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

Someone commented under my video on YouTube.  I wanted to include that here so all the information is in one place.

Comment on YouTube from espressoplanet:

Looks a little over-extracted, try grinding slightly coarser and look to finish the shot in 25-30 seconds. When was the roast date? You mention in the coffeegeek forum that it tastes bitter? I would recommend definitely turning down your PID to 200-203F and grind slightly coarser. Roast could also be too fresh. Was there any white on the surface of your crema? That is a sure sign of over extraction.


Someone else on coffeegeek mentioned it might be over-extracted as well.  This definitely seems like a possibility. This video is over a month old so I'm not sure of the roast date.  I just used the video to show about how my shots looked in general.  It was most likely about 7 days old or so.  I will start to keep track of that and note it.  I have since turned my PID down to about 202F and I noticed it is better.  I will try and grind a little coarser and see where that leads.  I do notice some white on the surface of the crema.  I will try and post a pic.
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ZBoT
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Apr 2013
Posts: 13
Location: USA
Expertise: Just starting

Espresso: Gaggia Classic w/ Auber PID
Grinder: Cunil Tranquilo
Posted Wed Apr 3, 2013, 5:20am
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

Here is a pic of the crema from a shot I pulled yesterday.  Is this the white on the surface of the crema an indication of over-extraction?

ZBoT: crema.jpg
(Click for larger image)
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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 Wed Apr 3, 2013, 7:35am
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

Do the spoon taste test and taste the flow with a spoon every few seconds of flow. If you have a naked you can see the cone start to collapse and that is when I stop it.  Also, I sometimes get a drip or two after my pump is cut off and you can see it look much whiter than the crema around it. Whiter than your shot looks to me.

Stop a few seconds earlier than you would normally and taste it.  Badly over extracted can have a dark ring and I think I taste more of a cooked/burned flavor.  (even on redbird)

 
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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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,038
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Wed Apr 3, 2013, 8:59am
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

Sorry I missed this thread a few days ago.  I watched your video and have a few questions.  What is your basis for judging your espresso?  What espresso are you comparing to, where is the bar set?  Perhaps yours is better than you think :)

How long do you warm up the machine?

What is the weight or volume of liquid after the crema totally settles on your brew?  You seem to run about 30 - 32 seconds after first drip and that is in line with, perhaps long, the Redbird suggestion of 25 - 30 seconds after first drip, possibly a bit long.  Interesting site below looking at beverage grams vs volume including crema.  If you do not weigh, you get close if you measure the volume after crema settles completely.

Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

I assume that you got the Auber kit preset from the numbers noted, preset at 216F.  Just curious, kit for brew only, or steam, or pre-infuse?

You mentioned too hot to drink and let it cool.  It would be a bit difficult to drink at say 180F, but that is not hot enough to brew.  You can get it drinkable faster by not heating the cup too hot.  A cup heated in the microwave to boiling would leave a very hot drink for a bit.  Just an example to illustrate, not that you would o that.

You can approximate the temperature, DIY thermofilters or Styrofoam cup.

Click Here (coffeegeek.com)

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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MatP
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Mar 2013
Posts: 42
Location: Southern California
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic
Grinder: Macap MXP
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Wed Apr 3, 2013, 10:35am
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

ZBoT,

Unless I missed a detail, the whole thread is focusing on the espresso machine side of the process, but not on the grinder side. The following thread helped me a lot make better espresso:

Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

From what you describe, before playing around with the temperature and the pressure (I have a stock Gaggia, unmodified, except for the steam wand), have you tried grinding finer, and lowering the dose to 14 / 15gr ? This is what I would do to bring more sweetness out of a coffee.

MatP
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