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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > Just got a...  
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coffeefreak2112
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Jul 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Sacramento
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Jul 8, 2013, 2:09pm
Subject: Just got a grinder, disappointing results
 

So I have been using a budget espresso machine for about 6 months (Delonghi EC155), along with an alloy tamper, and a frothing thermometer.  The EC155 is a single boiler machine from what I understand.  Up until now, I have been using Lavazza pre-ground for espresso coffee in the Ec155. I tamp at around 30 lbs and usually get pretty decent crema and have been generally happy with the quality of what I am pulling.  

But everything I read said that I really should invest in a grinder, so I got a Capresso 560.  Since then, I haven't gotten one decent shot from the beans I have ground.  I have experimented with the various grinding coarseness settings and a bag of unknown quality beans and my espresso now is horrible.   I can't for the life of me get a shot with decent crema anymore.  At first I used the capresso suggested setting of medium which is supposed to be for single boiler machines, and it came out fairly fine- at least compared to what I am used to with pre-ground.  

So fine in fact that when I tamped at 30 lbs, I got NOTHING out of the machine.  Ok, I figure, that was either too fine or I need to adjust my tamping.  No matter what tamping pressure along with the medium setting can I get good crema. I tried a very light tamping with the medium coarseness setting also.    

So I go down to the coarsest grind setting and tamping at my normal 30 lbs, I get ok shots, but they have little crema.   Right now I am really not sure what to try next, so I was hoping someone can set me straight.  Thanks in advance for any help!

;)
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,947
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Jul 8, 2013, 3:26pm
Subject: Re: Just got a grinder, disappointing results
 

yes, the EC155 is indeed a single boiler machine,  around here we use the eponym SBDU (single boiler, dual use)
a) are you using pressurized (stock) baskets with the EC155, or have you converted to non-pressurized?
b) if you're using pressurized (which I suspect), what you are calling crema, actually isn't crema.  It's a fake froth caused by the pressurization, aimed to allow you to use stale pre-ground coffee to make a pseudo-espresso.  This is something you get from any "budget" machine, like the EC155.
c) Capresso doesn't make a suitable grinder for espresso, using a non-pressurized basket, not the 560 or any other model.
Sorry, don't mean to knock your gear, but unfortunately you decided to take the red pill

recommendations for making good real espresso with the EC155:
a) convert your baskets to non-pressurized.
b) see if you can take back the Capresso and get an entry level espresso capable grinder.  If you can't afford something like a refurbished Baratza Preciso ($239), look into manual grinders, such as the Hario Mini Slim (~$40) or Skerton (~$55), a Porlex (~$75), a Zassenhaus (~$90+) or even an OE Lido ($165).
c) make sure you're using fresh beans - i.e., roasted within the past 2 weeks.

Until you can do this:
The fact that you can get "a decent shot" with no crema, on your unknown beans, probably means your beans are stale.  Fresh beans are absolutely necessary to get real crema. Until you get fresh beans, you're SOL.  Once you get them, grind until you choke the machine (fine enough that little to no espresso comes out), then gradually back off on the grind setting (go coarser) while maintaining a consistent dose amount and tamp pressure, until you get a decent flow.  Then you'll possibly have to play with the dose a little, as the next step from there will likely give you a gusher. So, once you get decent flow, go slightly higher dose to lengthen the shot or slightly lower dose to shorten the shot (probably use 0.5g increments).

.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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coffeefreak2112
Senior Member


Joined: 8 Jul 2013
Posts: 3
Location: Sacramento
Expertise: Just starting

Posted Mon Jul 8, 2013, 6:24pm
Subject: Re: Just got a grinder, disappointing results
 

I actually didn't even know there was an option for different baskets, so yep still using the stock ones.

And thank you so much for that detailed reply and the recommendations!!

I think I am still within the return window for my grinder, so I will return it, get the upgraded baskets, and look into the other grinders you mentioned. I recall the Hario Mini coming up during my grinder research.  I think the beans I am using *could* be old, my wife picked these up from Marshalls and theres no telling how old they are.  The label just says : "best before 2/2014"  :)
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brianl
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Dec 2012
Posts: 441
Location: Chicago IL
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic (w/PID)
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: chemex
Posted Mon Jul 8, 2013, 7:03pm
Subject: Re: Just got a grinder, disappointing results
 

coffeefreak2112 Said:

I actually didn't even know there was an option for different baskets, so yep still using the stock ones.

And thank you so much for that detailed reply and the recommendations!!

I think I am still within the return window for my grinder, so I will return it, get the upgraded baskets, and look into the other grinders you mentioned. I recall the Hario Mini coming up during my grinder research.  I think the beans I am using *could* be old, my wife picked these up from Marshalls and theres no telling how old they are.  The label just says : "best before 2/2014"  :)

Posted July 8, 2013 link

If you're going to invest the money, it's time for you to follow the coffee gospel.

Though shalt not buy beans unless they have a Roasted date. That 'best before' 'fresh date' on some beans is hocus pocus. The beans start to go stale after about 15 days from roast for espresso and you want to use coffee that you grind within 15 minutes usually (just grind before pulling the shot).

It's a very deep rabbit hole. I also started with the EC155. Now I have a Baratza Vario Grinder and a Gaggia Classic with a PID three months later.

The best thing to do to make it 'non pressurized' is to just buy a 51mm la pavoni basket.
https://www.orphanespresso.com/La-Pavoni-Millenium-51mm-Double-Portafilter-Basket_p_2744.html

You will have to flatten the lip on the basket.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 2,947
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4 x2, VDD...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Jul 8, 2013, 7:34pm
Subject: Re: Just got a grinder, disappointing results
 

brianl Said:

The beans start to go stale after about 15 days from roast for espresso and you want to use coffee that you grind within 15 minutes usually (just grind before pulling the shot).

Posted July 8, 2013 link

actually...the beans start to go stale as soon as they are harvested.  Like any other food product, as soon as you remove it from it's source of nutrients it begins to spoil.  Coffee berries grow on trees and shrubs, and after harvest they are processed for the bean.  The bean is roasted after some period of time, then the roasted beans are ground and used to brew coffee.

Babbie's Rule of 15s says:
green beans should be roasted within 15 months, or they go stale
roasted beans should be ground within 15 days, or they go stale
ground beans should be brewed within 15 minutes, or they go stale

as implied in the last post, these guidelines are most important when the brew method is espresso

and, YES, it's a very deep rabbit hole indeed. :)  Welcome!

.

 
.
Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,021
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Tue Jul 9, 2013, 12:27am
Subject: Re: Just got a grinder, disappointing results
 

coffeefreak2112 Said:

I think the beans I am using *could* be old, my wife picked these up from Marshalls and theres no telling how old they are.  The label just says : "best before 2/2014"  :)

Posted July 8, 2013 link

I don't know if the same rules apply to the United States, but due to EU regulations in Germany this would mean that those beans probably have been roasted in February 2012, which means they're 17 months old and stale.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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CoffeeLoversMag
Senior Member
CoffeeLoversMag
Joined: 10 Jan 2013
Posts: 218
Location: Seattle
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Tue Jul 9, 2013, 5:18am
Subject: Re: Just got a grinder, disappointing results
 

One of the most important factors in brewing is tamping the ground espresso. Your grinder has nothing wrong. Even how many times you adjust the desired settings, yet you donít grind your espresso beans right before brewing, you canít get on a fine grind setting. The best taste is to start every time with fresh and cold filtered water.

 
Did you know...? Dark roast coffees actually have less caffeine than lighter roasts due to the fact that the process of roasting burns off caffeine.
www.coffeeloversmag.com/theMagazine
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CMIN
Senior Member


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,353
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Tue Jul 9, 2013, 6:13am
Subject: Re: Just got a grinder, disappointing results
 

CoffeeLoversMag Said:

One of the most important factors in brewing is tamping the ground espresso. Your grinder has nothing wrong. Even how many times you adjust the desired settings, yet you donít grind your espresso beans right before brewing, you canít get on a fine grind setting. The best taste is to start every time with fresh and cold filtered water.

Posted July 9, 2013 link

huh?!?! it's a pressurized machine, you actually don't even need to tamp on it, and the Infinity isn't a good grinder, no consistency for espresso and huge retention.

coffeefreak - I started with a Bar32 (same internals as EC155). For one thing you need a digi scale that measures to .1g as other wise you'll never know what your dose is as the Infinity has huge retention problems and will push out a bunch of gunked up stale grinds (it's great for coarse use though and will work for pressurized machines, not for real espresso machines though). It generates a ton of fines that can clog up. With a pressurized portafilter you will need to keep adjusting and trying as too fine won't allow the pressure clip to open up. Would have been far better off with like a Hario Slim or Skerton.

Lavazza - wast of money, your paying $$$$ for stale a$$ beans. Even with the nitro packing b/c they were roasted so long ago the day you open them up it accelerates the staling process and they fall off a cliff after a day. You have some awesome roasters right in your area Sacramento Roasters

Eventually you can try replacing with a krups or similar basket to depressurize the portafilter, but you'll need a better grinder as the Infinity isn't capable for non pressurized. But then you'll get real crema, not the fake crema the machine makes as it's forcing water though a tiny hole (kinda like a water hose open vs tighten down to spray with a handle).
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NobbyR
Senior Member
NobbyR
Joined: 10 Jul 2011
Posts: 2,021
Location: Germany
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Poccino Opus One, Ariete
Grinder: Eureka Mignon Istantaneo
Vac Pot: N/A
Drip: Melitta Linea Unica de Luxe
Roaster: N/A
Posted Tue Jul 9, 2013, 7:10am
Subject: Re: Just got a grinder, disappointing results
 

CoffeeLoversMag Said:

One of the most important factors in brewing is tamping the ground espresso.

Posted July 9, 2013 link

I don't agree. It's rather the least important factor.

 
***
"This drink of the Satan is so delicious that it would be a shame to leave it to the infidels." (Pope Clement VIII on coffee, when he was urged to ban the beverage)
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brianl
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Dec 2012
Posts: 441
Location: Chicago IL
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Gaggia Classic (w/PID)
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Drip: chemex
Posted Tue Jul 9, 2013, 7:11am
Subject: Re: Just got a grinder, disappointing results
 

emradguy Said:

actually...the beans start to go stale as soon as they are harvested.  Like any other food product, as soon as you remove it from it's source of nutrients it begins to spoil.  Coffee berries grow on trees and shrubs, and after harvest they are processed for the bean.  The bean is roasted after some period of time, then the roasted beans are ground and used to brew coffee.

Babbie's Rule of 15s says:
green beans should be roasted within 15 months, or they go stale
roasted beans should be ground within 15 days, or they go stale
ground beans should be brewed within 15 minutes, or they go stale

as implied in the last post, these guidelines are most important when the brew method is espresso

and, YES, it's a very deep rabbit hole indeed. :)  Welcome!

.

Posted July 8, 2013 link

Stop trying to scare the newbie. You wont get a significant noticable difference untill after those guidelines. In fact, you wont really even be getting the optimal flavor until after about 4 days after roast. Now the green beans i'm not as familar with but I know whats in season and what isn't when i look at beans, haha.
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