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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Getting the most...  
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dabac
Senior Member
dabac
Joined: 7 May 2013
Posts: 7
Location: Genova, Italy
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Tue May 7, 2013, 7:47am
Subject: Getting the most out of pre-ground coffee
 

Hi all, being a new coffee enthusiast, I have a question to ask regarding the shots on my new Silvia.

A bit of a background first, though:

For the past few months I've been using a cheap (70) superautomatic, just with the standard pre-ground coffee beans from the shop.

Than, during my holiday in Helsinki, I've tried a specialty coffee  in one of the local roastery/bars, and I was blown away. Bought a couple of bags and asked them to grind the coffee for me. Got a bit disappointed that I was unable to get anywhere near reproducing those shots on my cheap home machine, however the coffee was still significantly tastier than the supermarket one.

When I've used up the bags, not wanting to go back to the cheap supermarket coffee, I've ordered a few bags from HasBean (seemingly a reputable British roaster), also pre-grinded. The coffee tasted ok, but also still obviously nowhere near the "real thing". This is where I've started reading a bit about coffee, and decided to listen up to the advice of most enthusiasts on this and other coffee forums to get a real grinder+machine, so I decided to order Rocky+Silvia as it seemed to be the most consistent entry-level recommendation.

Today, I've also ordered coffee in beans (so I'll be able to freshly grind them) but, as I'm waiting for them to arrive, I'm still left with cca. 1.5 bags of HasBean's single origin specialty coffee (pre-grinded) that I'd like to use up.

Now comes the question:
The taste of the coffee seems to have been better on the cheap super-automatic than on Silvia. I now it's a stale coffee by now, but this is still puzzling me.
When I try following the advice from the Coffeegeek's Youtube video (that keeps being quoted on these forums) for pulling shots with Silvia with temperature surfing, my shots are tasting very bitter, but at least extraction time seems to be good  @25-30 sec.

If I try pulling it on a higher temperature or putting a smaller amount of coffee in the portafilter, the shots are extracted at around 10-12sec and are too watery.

So, how do I get the most out of the rest of my pre-ground coffee (while waiting for the new, whole beans batch to arrive)? Do I just revert to the old super-automatic as it seems to be more  "forgiving", or is there a way to notch it up with the Silvia?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!
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GVDub
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Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 865
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Posted Tue May 7, 2013, 1:45pm
Subject: Re: Getting the most out of pre-ground coffee
 

Pre-ground coffee makes an excellent mulch for tomato plants.

IMHO, that's about the most you can get out of it.
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frcn
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frcn
Joined: 23 Dec 2001
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Posted Tue May 7, 2013, 4:19pm
Subject: Re: Getting the most out of pre-ground coffee
 

As GVDub said, to get the most out of pre-ground coffee, weigh out an amount of pre-ground, weigh an equal amount of fresh, whole bean coffee. Grind the whole bean coffee. Throw out the pre-ground (*1) and immediately use the coffee you just ground.

*1 - alternatives to trash:
- compost
- place in a little cloth bag and had up in car or bathroom as a room freshner
- give it to someone with whom you are not friendly.
- grind in mortar and pestle, mix with a small amount of butter, apply to face in stripes, and go on the warpath against the evil Drinkers of Folger's empire.

 
Visit My Website
www.EspressoMyEspresso.com
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takeshi
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takeshi
Joined: 12 Oct 2002
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Location: Houston
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Posted Wed May 8, 2013, 1:12pm
Subject: Re: Getting the most out of pre-ground coffee
 

dabac Said:

So, how do I get the most out of the rest of my pre-ground coffee (while waiting for the new, whole beans batch to arrive)?

Posted May 7, 2013 link

You don't.  Preground is stale.
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calblacksmith
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calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,864
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Wed May 8, 2013, 2:04pm
Subject: Re: Getting the most out of pre-ground coffee
 

I know the answers you are getting are not what you wanted to hear but they are the truth.
Aside from the grounds being really really stale, there is no way they are ground correctly for your machine unless you have a PPF. Even then they are not "correct" but because there is a device in the portafilter that generates pressure, you get longer contact time with the grounds and then something that resembles espresso comes out.

You MUST have a grinder that is able to grind for espresso with any machine that has a standard PF, you must adjust the grind for each shot as the coffee is constantly changing hour to hour and day to day, the grind is the only way you have to adjust for the conditions you are brewing your espresso in.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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dabac
Senior Member
dabac
Joined: 7 May 2013
Posts: 7
Location: Genova, Italy
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Thu May 9, 2013, 3:24am
Subject: Re: Getting the most out of pre-ground coffee
 

calblacksmith Said:

I know the answers you are getting are not what you wanted to hear but they are the truth.

Posted May 8, 2013 link

Yep, inasmuch as I appreciate any comments that will aid me in the learning process towards the good and eventually great espressos, the replies in this topic were not really addressing my question.

I AM aware that the coffee is stale, and after doing my fair share of homework, have opted in for buying fresh coffee beans from now on.

That being said, as I'm waiting for the fresh beans to arrive, I still find the stale specialty coffee more enjoyable than the stale supermarket coffee. I was also hoping to be able to learn a bit of modus operandi of the new machine with the old coffee, thus potentially reducing the number of poor/sink shots that I'll be making once I get the fresh coffee.

So, I was wondering why I seem to be getting shots that taste better on the crappy superautomatic than on Silvia. So if someone has an idea on why this occurs, I'd greatly appreciate it, as it might help me understand what the machine actually does and how it functions...
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,864
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Thu May 9, 2013, 6:20am
Subject: Re: Getting the most out of pre-ground coffee
 

dabac Said:

So, I was wondering why I seem to be getting shots that taste better on the crappy superautomatic than on Silvia. So if someone has an idea on why this occurs, I'd greatly appreciate it, as it might help me understand what the machine actually does and how it functions...

Posted May 9, 2013 link

Why? Well, I would bet that the super auto has a pressurized porta filter system. Sylvia does not. Low end SBDU machines also have the pressurized system. They use this system so that stale supermarket coffee can give you something that sort of resembles espresso from those machines. As you get a better machine, the weakness of the grinder becomes more and more easily seen and the greater the need to grind expressly for each shot, adjusting the grind for the conditions in your kitchen at the time the shots are pulled.

The very best shots from a Super auto, will never come close to an OK shot from a properly operating SBDU and GOOD grinder in MHO.

I very often use an apple to try to give an example of what is going on with your coffee. If you cut an apple open, it takes about 15 minutes for it to start turning brown. This is the chemical reaction of the fruit to the O2 in the air, this reaction is called staling. Now cut your apple into 1000 small pieces, there is vastly more surface area to stale and the reaction happens much quicker to a much larger percentage of the apple.

Super market pre ground coffee is this apple that has been let sit for a month. Stale newer coffee is only letting it happen for a few days, neither is good to eat (drink) but you may feel the newer is better than the older pre ground, on a relationship basis.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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GVDub
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2008
Posts: 865
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Londinium I, Arrarex...
Grinder: Gaggia MD85, Dienes Mokka,...
Drip: Behmor Brazen, Abid Clever
Roaster: Behmor 1600+
Posted Thu May 9, 2013, 11:35am
Subject: Re: Getting the most out of pre-ground coffee
 

dabac Said:

That being said, as I'm waiting for the fresh beans to arrive, I still find the stale specialty coffee more enjoyable than the stale supermarket coffee. I was also hoping to be able to learn a bit of modus operandi of the new machine with the old coffee, thus potentially reducing the number of poor/sink shots that I'll be making once I get the fresh coffee.

Posted May 9, 2013 link

The problem with trying to work on improving barista skills with pre-ground coffee is that it forces you to work backwards. You adjust shots with a combination of dose and grind, and usually the first place you adjust is in the grind to get you in the ballpark of proper extraction, then do small tweaks in the dose to fine-tune your results. Then, once it's dialed in, you adjust grind in very small increments to compensate for coffee aging, humidity changes, etc.

Once you remove the ability to vary the grind, as you do with preground coffee, you handcuff your ability to control the shot, as attempting to control results by dose alone frequently puts you in the territory of too much or too little headroom available in the portafilter basket, either of which can lead to channeling and bad extractions.

I think Wayne's pretty spot on in his analysis of why the super-auto may give less objectionable results with the pre-ground.
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