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Total n00b, breaking in my Rancilio Epoca ST 1
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pnosko
Senior Member


Joined: 20 Jul 2012
Posts: 20
Location: Germantown, MD
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Epoca ST1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso w/Esatto
Drip: Frieling Coffee For One 23...
Posted Sun Jul 21, 2013, 5:37pm
Subject: Total n00b, breaking in my Rancilio Epoca ST 1
 

Well, my second pull was a huge improvement over the first, which had no crema at all. But I have a long way to go. I know this will take time, but I have a few questions.

I wasn't sure how much coffee to use. I have a Baratza Preciso w/Essatto, and my first shot was 15g using grind setting G10. The coffee is Espresso Nuevo from Paradise Roasters, roasted on Jul 1st. (I'm embarrassed to admit that my Epoca sat in the box for 3 weeks.)

So I know my equipment is solid, and I know the coffee is on the edge of freshness, but I think still acceptable at 3 weeks from roasting. And my experience is zilch. The last time I was doing this was about 18 years ago with a Baby Gaggia and MDF and likely had no idea what good tasted like.

I read thread "Re: idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?", and upped the 2nd dose to 18g with a firm tamp. I could not even get the portafiler mounted. (So glad no one was watching me.) When I looked at the grounds, I could see a hole in the center from the screw holding the screen. I tried to scoop a little off and re-tamp, and I could feel the drag from wet grounds. So I tossed it and tried again with 17g. Same story, another toss. Once more with 17g and putting all of my substantial weight into the tamper, and this time I was able to get the portafilter inserted. I could be happy with 17g since this is what I use for making plain coffee in a Frieling 1-cup gold filter.

Am I doing something wrong? Should 18g tamped firmly really prevent locking on a portafilter on this machine?

Second question; timing. Should I judge by time or just stop when the coffee begins to look watery? Timing it (I thought I read somewhere that it should take about 30 seconds), I stopped my first around 20 secs and the 2nd at maybe 25 secs (because I was focusing on the coffee color).

At least I'm getting very fine foam using whole milk; that came easy.

Thanks.
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,223
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Jul 22, 2013, 12:42pm
Subject: Re: Total n00b, breaking in my Rancilio Epoca ST 1
 

pnosko Said:

I read thread "Re: idiots guide to pulling consistent shots?", and upped the 2nd dose to 18g with a firm tamp. I could not even get the portafiler mounted. (So glad no one was watching me.) When I looked at the grounds, I could see a hole in the center from the screw holding the screen. I tried to scoop a little off and re-tamp, and I could feel the drag from wet grounds. So I tossed it and tried again with 17g. Same story, another toss. Once more with 17g and putting all of my substantial weight into the tamper, and this time I was able to get the portafilter inserted. I could be happy with 17g since this is what I use for making plain coffee in a Frieling 1-cup gold filter.

Am I doing something wrong? Should 18g tamped firmly really prevent locking on a portafilter on this machine?

Posted July 21, 2013 link

You may be grinding too coarse, if you're having trouble getting a 17g or 18g double to engage on the group.  If the grinds are far too coarse, they don't really compress much when you tamp, and that will also cause the shot to blond very early.  Of course, there are other causes, so that makes it harder to diagnose without a video.  I check which thread you referred to above.  Did you happen to follow the link to the article frcn mentioned (Esy Guide to Better Espresso at Home)?  It's well worth the read and will help you tremendously.  As you said, your beans are borderline, depending on how they've been stored since roasting back on the 1st.  If in the refrigerator, or open to air or sunlight, then you should probably toss them and get some more fresh ones.

pnosko Said:

Second question; timing. Should I judge by time or just stop when the coffee begins to look watery? Timing it (I thought I read somewhere that it should take about 30 seconds), I stopped my first around 20 secs and the 2nd at maybe 25 secs (because I was focusing on the coffee color).

Posted July 21, 2013 link

Yeah, both.  In addition to looking for a watery blond stream, you can watch the cup for white spotting from the stream and also coordinate a taste test (rapid succession of tiny samples directly from the stream using a small spoon).  You want to learn to stop the stream just before the watery apears and just before the white appears, and just before it tastes awful, when you sample the stream.  yeah, that should all occur in the 25-30sec range, as a general guideline (a god place to start from).  Once you get an idea when to stop the stream based on appearance and taste, you microadjust your grind to get the that endpoint to happen in the 25-30 sec window. Also, some people actualy weigh the shots after they've been pulled, or even use a tiny scale to weigh them while they're being pulled.  That's why some roasters will actually tell you how many grams your dry and wet shot should be in how many seconds extraction at x temp.  For instance, they'll say 18g dose at 201F in 30 sec for a 30g shot (thoguh more often given like a punch list of parameters to shoot for).

.

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


Joined: 20 Jul 2012
Posts: 20
Location: Germantown, MD
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Epoca ST1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso w/Esatto
Drip: Frieling Coffee For One 23...
Posted Mon Jul 22, 2013, 2:11pm
Subject: Re: Total n00b, breaking in my Rancilio Epoca ST 1
 

emradguy Said:

You may be grinding too coarse, if you're having trouble getting a 17g or 18g double to engage on the group.

Posted July 22, 2013 link

I chose G10 based on Mark Prince's impressive review of the grinder Click Here (coffeegeek.com) but I'll try going finer.

emradguy Said:

That's why some roasters will actually tell you how many grams your dry and wet shot should be...

Posted July 22, 2013 link

I do have an NTEP-quality scale that measures in (whole) grams, so I'll see if I can get this data from Paradise and order a new bag. Mine was sealed until yesterday and had been stored in a cabinet at room temperature.

Many thanks for your reply!
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,223
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Mon Jul 22, 2013, 6:50pm
Subject: Re: Total n00b, breaking in my Rancilio Epoca ST 1
 

With many grinders, calibration may make one setting produce very different grinds for different users. Also, I probably should have mentioned this before...many Precisos need to be calibrated by the user, especially if you bought a brand new one. The refurbs tend not to need it as the support guys take care of it for you. So, you might want to look in to calibrating it. Their support is fantastic, whether you need to email or call them, or simply look it up on their website.  Also, you'll probably be able to find brewing parameters for your beans on the Paradise website (and it sounds like you had taken good care of them, so you should be ok for a few more days I would think.

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


Joined: 20 Jul 2012
Posts: 20
Location: Germantown, MD
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Epoca ST1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso w/Esatto
Drip: Frieling Coffee For One 23...
Posted Tue Jul 23, 2013, 3:53pm
Subject: Re: Total n00b, breaking in my Rancilio Epoca ST 1
 

Well thank you, that was an education. I did notice that I could more easily lock the portafiter in place after using setting G8 on 17g, so I'm heading in the right direction.  

I guess I should be pleased that they have so many "customer support" articles and videos of this (and their other) grinders. But have found a fair number of posts here with similar complaints about this grinder, I find myself wondering if I made the right choice.

To me, the term calibrate implies that there's a specific, objective procedure to make the grinder produce fixed and known grind sizes for the various grind settings. I think calling their trial-and-error adjustment a "recalibration" is a gross misuse of the term. All of the work done by Mark Prince to document the grind sizes for the various settings goes out the window by using this subjective adjustment.

Oh well, what to do. I'll have to see how mine was set when I take it apart this weekend. I am quite handy, but really didn't expect this level of needed hands-on for a $300 grinder.

Thanks again, emradguy. (Oh, please explain "go to *$$".)
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,223
Location: Houston
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2
Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,...
Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress
Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Wed Jul 24, 2013, 11:21am
Subject: Re: Total n00b, breaking in my Rancilio Epoca ST 1
 

yeah, I can see your point about "calibration".  The Preciso is a good grinder, made affordable by tons of plastic where it matters less.  Once you get it dialed in, you'll be very happy with it.  

I think one of the reasons you see lots of complaints may be (and I'm speculating) that the grinders are produced, assembled and packaged for Baratza, so Kyle and Pierce and who ever else works there don't really have much quality control over what the consumer received as a new machine.  I also believe this is why a refurbed unit is often considered more desirable than a new one (since Pierce Jens was able to get his hands on it and get it adjusted properly and make sure everything checked out fine.   Other reasons we see complaints are probably because  of the large number produced, and the plastic which is used to make them more affordable.

.

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


Joined: 20 Jul 2012
Posts: 20
Location: Germantown, MD
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Epoca ST1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso w/Esatto
Drip: Frieling Coffee For One 23...
Posted Sat Aug 10, 2013, 10:37am
Subject: Re: Total n00b, breaking in my Rancilio Epoca ST 1
 

Well, I still don't think I am getting a proper shot out of this machine. I'm certain it relates to the grind. I have a fresh order of coffee beans from Paradise and while waiting for them, I had reset my Preciso grinder setting and can't get it set right again for espresso. I'm really feeling disappointed with this grinder. I have not yet taken it apart to check the adjustment setting.

My wife was not pleased to hear me suggest that I should buy a 2nd grinder so that I don't have to change the grind adjustment (and the coffee beans for making plain coffee) once I get it right for espresso. I don't think I should have to do this either.

I have another question related to the grind. When the 17 grams of the proper grind size is tamped with a good amount of pressure, should the top of the grounds hit the screw holding the water screen when the portafilter is mounted? I've read a number of articles about proper tamping saying it is no longer recommended to bang/tap the portafilter and retamp as that might create microfractures in the puck. But if a perfectly tamped puck hits the screw, it seem to me that it could cause more damage than what tapping could do. So I'm wondering if my grind is still too course if it mounts easily but hits the screw.
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