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Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
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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 Wed Apr 3, 2013, 11:53am
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

D4F Said:

What is your basis for judging your espresso?  What espresso are you comparing to, where is the bar set?  Perhaps it is better than you think :)

Posted April 3, 2013 link

Excellent question!  This very well could be better than I think it is.  I am very new to espresso and fairly new to good coffee in general.  I started buying fresh coffee about a year and a half ago with a french press and blade grinder.  Quickly upgraded to a Capresso Inifinity Burr grinder and a AeroPress.  Very happy with the results with that.  I drink black coffee and gradually started adding less and less water to the aeropress coffee so I thought it might be time to try espresso.  I had it only once or twice before deciding to get a machine for Christmas.  My wife enjoys lattes so I thought it would be good for both of us.  Since then I have tried it a few more times at different cafes.  Usually it is very good with a lot of flavor coming through and very minimal bitterness.  Unlike what I am getting at home which just seems bitter.  Having read everyone else's experiences with Redbird regarding the peanut/carmel/chocolate flavors I thought I would give it a try.  I am definitely getting some of those flavors when using it with my AeroPress but nothing when I make espresso with it.  As strong as the peanut flavor is when I use it in my AP I can't believe it doesn't come through even slightly in my espresso.  I have tried a few other fresh coffees as well (local and mail order) but all seem to be bitter and flavorless.  I am not looking for an amazing shot every time, but I feel that I should be getting something with some flavor by now.  This was way too long but I hope it some what answers your question.  I can elaborate more if need be.

D4F Said:

How long do you warm up the machine?

Posted April 3, 2013 link

Minimum 15-20 minutes.  Usually about 20-25 minutes.  Sometimes longer but not more than 45 minutes.

D4F Said:

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)

Posted April 3, 2013 link

I have actually read this post and have been keeping track of the brew ratio of each of my shots for the past month.  The average of my brew ratios for the past month is 55%.  It's been a little all over from me trying different things but it seems between 50-60% is normal for me.

D4F Said:

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?

Posted April 3, 2013 link

I got the brew/steam/pre-infuse.  The steam has made a lot of difference.  I have tried the pre-infuse and haven't noticed much difference.  I will test the pre-infuse more once I get things more stable and dialed-in.

D4F Said:

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.

Posted April 3, 2013 link

This is a very good point as I do preheat my cups with hot water.  The reason I said this was because whenever I have been served in a cafe it always seems to be drinkable.  Perhaps their thick cups are sucking away some of that heat quickly.

D4F Said:

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

Click Here (coffeegeek.com)

Posted April 3, 2013 link

I really need to do this.  I have been contemplating buying a t-type thermometer and making a DIY Scace device.  I like to mod things and would probably use the thermometer for other things.  I've also contemplated renting a Scace/Fluke.  That way I would know the exact brew temp and could take it out of the equation.  Perhaps I should just start with this Styrofoam cup test.  Is it pretty accurate?

Thank you so much for your response!  It is really nice to get fresh ideas.  I am starting to run in circles.  Plus it's nice to interact with these discussions as all I have been doing is reading for the past three months!  :-)
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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, 12:03pm
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

MatP Said:

The following thread helped me a lot make better espresso:

Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

Posted April 3, 2013 link

Great post!  I need to read it again but very good information.

MatP Said:

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.

Posted April 3, 2013 link

I have gone down to 16g but not much less than that.  I start to get a very wet puck that is difficult to knock out and comes out in pieces.  Is that what you experience? I definitely will try dosing 14-15g tonight though and report back.

Thanks for the post!!  More great info!!  I LOVE IT!!  :-)
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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, 12:11pm
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

Yes I have wet pucks, but results are much tastier. From what I read on CG or HB, we should not feel concerned about the puck texture after extracting. What really matters is the results in the cup.

At first I was like you: I wanted a clean, dense puck after pulling a shot. And then, during a trip to San Francisco, I tasted some great espresso from Blue Bottle. And I payed attention to their puck after pulling the shot. It was not a puck, but a coffee soup :-)

MatP
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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, 12:14pm
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

Ok good.  I just wanted to make sure I wasn't the only one getting those results.  I don't have a problem cleaning the "coffee soup", I just thought I was doing something wrong because everyone talks about the dry pucks.  Can't wait to try this!  Thanks again!
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D4F
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,007
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Wed Apr 3, 2013, 12:30pm
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

"Puckology" has been discussed and can be easily searched.  I have adjusted the dose and grind for taste and find that I usually get a dry puck with a very minimal screw impression in the center.  If I have a little less coffee to begin with, then there may be a bit of soup on top and then a dry firm puck.  The 3 way does not suck up water but relieves pressure and discharges water in the process, but can not go below a certain level in the basket.  A blind basket and backflush will demonstrate the water left.  The top, not the puck may be a bit moist.

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


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,007
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Wed Apr 3, 2013, 12:48pm
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

You mentioned brew ratio, but curious as to how much liquid in weight or volume with settled crema are you getting?

Another thought, describe your process.  Are you warming the machine with PF locked in, then revoming PF only long enough to wipe it dry and add coffee and tamp?  No flush or warming of PF with flush?  No water into the cups?

I am at about 17 - 17.5 gms with firm tamp to just get an indent of the screw in the expanded wet puck.  If you lock the PF in and the puck gets an indent dry, it is too full, and if it does not get an indent wet, then you do not know where you are, except of course by weighing.  I have read descriptions of a dime, nickel, or penny placed on top of a dry puck, to approximate room for expansion, when you fit the dry puck.  Interesting that most use about as much coffee as you can squeeze into a double basket with the "screw" description.  You can learn the weight needed to do that and adjust grind and tamp.

PID is at 214F but I also add heat to stop intrashot drop in temperature.  You can forget that for now as I do not think it is part of basics, only showing that PID SV of about 213 - 218F is in the range.  I am at the low end PID SV but add preheat.  I have used 2 different Auber PIDs at about the same temperature using the same RTD sensor.  The Auber PIDs do not vary much, more about technique.

The Auber pre-infusion may not help much as you pressurize and then depressurize via 3 way.  If could harm the puck, so there are other ways to pre-infuse if it becomes important.

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


Joined: 15 Mar 2012
Posts: 2,007
Location: USA
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic PID
Grinder: Baratza Forte-AP
Posted Wed Apr 3, 2013, 1:28pm
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

I have been following a thread on HB that may interest on diluting and how it may change flavor.

Click Here (www.home-barista.com)

 
D4F also at
http://www.gaggiausersgroup.com/
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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 Wed Apr 3, 2013, 3:18pm
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

ZBoT Said:

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.

Posted April 3, 2013 link

202 at the brew head.  As a rule of thumb, sour is too cool, bitter is too hot.  Judge by taste and adjust 2 to 3 degrees up or down depending.


ZBoT Said:

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?

Posted April 3, 2013 link

1/2 bar would not make much of a difference, but YMMV.  Over extraction can be from several causes.. (grind being too fine, temp being too high, too much coffee used to mention three)


ZBoT Said:

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?

Posted April 3, 2013 link

My usual dose is 16 grams, and yes I do get water on the top of the puck, due to not having a three way solenoid.  But underneath the water the puck is generally pretty solid and knocks out ok.


ZBoT Said:

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!!

Posted April 3, 2013 link

You're welcome.  Grinding coarser and dosing less will help.  but keep the temp the same while you try this.  Change as few variables as possible or you'll get lost in the details.
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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, 7:22pm
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

D4F Said:

You mentioned brew ratio, but curious as to how much liquid in weight or volume with settled crema are you getting?

Posted April 3, 2013 link

Average is 30g.  Ranges from 25-35g though.

D4F Said:

Another thought, describe your process.  Are you warming the machine with PF locked in, then revoming PF only long enough to wipe it dry and add coffee and tamp?  No flush or warming of PF with flush?  No water into the cups?

Posted April 3, 2013 link

I do warm with the PF locked in.  I then remove the filter out of the PF (I took out the spring), lock PF back, dry filter, dose, tamp, put filter back in PF, lock PF and then pull the shot.  No flush or warming of the PF with flush.  No group water into the cups (use hot tap water from sink for this).

D4F Said:

I am at about 17 - 17.5 gms with firm tamp to just get an indent of the screw in the expanded wet puck.  If you lock the PF in and the puck gets an indent dry, it is too full, and if it does not get an indent wet, then you do not know where you are, except of course by weighing.  I have read descriptions of a dime, nickel, or penny placed on top of a dry puck, to approximate room for expansion, when you fit the dry puck.  Interesting that most use about as much coffee as you can squeeze into a double basket with the "screw" description.  You can learn the weight needed to do that and adjust grind and tamp.

Posted April 3, 2013 link

17-17.5g is what gives me a screw indent and expanded dry puck.  17.5g does not make a screw indent when locking in dry puck but 18g usually does.

D4F Said:

PID is at 214F but I also add heat to stop intrashot drop in temperature.  You can forget that for now as I do not think it is part of basics, only showing that PID SV of about 213 - 218F is in the range.  I am at the low end PID SV but add preheat.  I have used 2 different Auber PIDs at about the same temperature using the same RTD sensor.  The Auber PIDs do not vary much, more about technique.

Posted April 3, 2013 link

I will try increasing the temp back to 213-218F and grind coarser and see how it goes.

D4F Said:

The Auber pre-infusion may not help much as you pressurize and then depressurize via 3 way.  If could harm the puck, so there are other ways to pre-infuse if it becomes important.

Posted April 3, 2013 link

Yes it does seem to disrupt the top of the puck when I turn it on.
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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, 7:23pm
Subject: Re: Newbie getting discouraged with my espresso quality...  Please help!!
 

fwtechwiz Said:

You're welcome.  Grinding coarser and dosing less will help.  but keep the temp the same while you try this.  Change as few variables as possible or you'll get lost in the details.

Posted April 3, 2013 link

Great advice!  This is the direction I am going to go.  Thanks!
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