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Discussions > Espresso > Q and A > What am I doing...  
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ses90
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Mar 2014
Posts: 7
Location: Ohio
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Mar 28, 2014, 11:48am
Subject: What am I doing wrong? Please help!
 

I am one of those absolutely crazy persons who goes to Starbucks nearly every day and gets a grande doubleshot on ice (3 shots of espresso). I absolutely love them. I know it sounds silly, but they are the highlight of my day. Needless to say, I cannot afford to do this any longer. It's been almost a year since I moved to the city and started going every day and it just cannot continue.

So, I bought a Mr. Coffee ECM2023 machine and some Starbucks ground espresso blend. The instruction manual says that one shot of espresso = the 2 cup mark on the glass measuring container that comes with it. So I put 4 cups of water in there and filled the basket to the 4 mark with grounds and started the machine up. The espresso is bitter! It doesn't taste anything like the stuff I get at Starbucks. I read somewhere that one shot of espresso is only 2 oz. so I experimented with using less water. Still bitter. The machine doesn't come with a tamper so I tried tamping with a spoon. The espresso came out watery.

I'm sort of beside myself because I do not know what I am doing wrong and I really want to be able to make my own drinks at home. Could someone please give me some insight? Or has anyone used this machine before?

Also, if anyone could give me tips on how to properly make a Starbucks Doubleshot on Ice that would be awesome too. I mixed my syrup with the espresso and then pour it over ice, shake it, and then pour it over more ice and add milk, but it is ALWAYS watery. But it could be because my espresso is not coming out right!

Please help! Thanks!!
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Buckley
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Mar 28, 2014, 11:54am
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong? Please help!
 

Are you lampooning us or am I being overly sensitive to the probable scam underlying your post?
You overdid it.  No one could be that clueless and still know enough to direct a question to this forum.
B
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ses90
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Mar 2014
Posts: 7
Location: Ohio
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Mar 28, 2014, 12:02pm
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong? Please help!
 

No this isn't a scam..

And, I wouldn't be asking for help if I knew what I was doing?
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,146
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 Fri Mar 28, 2014, 12:25pm
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong? Please help!
 

I hope this doesn't come off as an elitist-type post, but your problems are you "machine" and your "beans".  I put them both in quotes bvecause...well, the former is steam powered, not pump driven and the latter is preground, so not actually beans. You've basically got the components to produce a disastrous imitation of espresso.  Sorry, but that's just my opinion.  

Let's say you spend....what...$3.50 a day on your *$$ habit?  That comes to almost $1,300 a year.  You can buy a decent setup (pump-driven machine and grinder) for that money.  Then, let's say you spend $60/month on beans (that's about a pound a week....which is on the high side of consumption - and comes to $720/year).  So now we're at two years spending $2700 - about what you spend at *$$.  Of course, you have to add in milk and sugar (if you use those)...but after that initial investment, each year, you save more and more money.

Let's assume you want to go down this path, but want to save even more money.

1) get a Gaggia Classic machine and a refurbished Baratza Preciso or a Lelit PL53 grinder.  That setup will cost you about $600 (instead of the initial $1300).
2) Use cheaper beans, such as RedBird Espresso (which is highly recommended here btw), for a mere $52/5 pounds shipped to your door within two or three days of roasting.
3) You can save even more money if you are willing to buy a hand-powered (aka manual) grinder, such as the Hario Skerton or slim, Porlex Minimill, OE Lido2, there are a couple others).
4) Instead of getting a G. Classic, get a MyPressi Twist to save another $100.
5) Oh, I guess you might need to add in the cost of the syrup you like, but if you get into good equipment and use fresh beans, you'll probably find you don't want any of that stuff anymore.

So back to your initial problem and the question you posed.  We'll disregard my opinion of *$$ for now...they are using freshly roasted beans which are ground to order. You are using stale preground mulch.  That in and of itself is enough to ruin your drink.  You need a grinder...simple as that.  your grinder needs to be designed for espresso.

Most of the people here weigh the dose of coffee going into the portafilter.  We weigh the dose to 0.1g resolution, using a small jeweler's scale, which costs between $10 and $40 depending on make and model and source.  We don't measure by filling some vessel up to a line.

You'll never be able to tamp properly with a spoon.  Of course, with your "machine" I don't know if tamping will help you at all anyways.  It just can't generate the pressure required to produce a decent shot.

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


Joined: 14 Jun 2012
Posts: 1,385
Location: South FL
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Crossland CC1
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Posted Fri Mar 28, 2014, 12:29pm
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong? Please help!
 

First things first, Charbucks doesn't offer espresso, their "espresso" resembles nothing like real espresso, unless you like nasty superauto shots that taste like liquid cigarettes with no crema and stale burnt beans ;) . Starbucks beans are about the worst you can buy, and preground is even worse, can't make espresso with preground even on a $5k machine. 2) The Mr Coffee you bought doesn't make espresso, it's a steam toy, and pressurized and not meant to bet tamped, makes more like a shot of drip. Look at what you were paying for Charbucks every day and avg over a year, take that $ amount and bet you can buy yourself a nice starter machine and grinder, like a Gaggia Classic and Preciso grinder just as an example, since the avg person that goes daily spends north of 1k a year there, my wife was close to $2k a year, now thinks their coffee is complete swill.

Better machine, espresso capable grinder, fresh beans... and you'll blow away anything Charbucks makes and never step within 10ft of a store again lol. I make a double iced in the mornings, and theirs nothing like it with a real machine, grinder, and fresh beans... Charbucks couldn't even come remotely fractionally close to what I make at home.

edit - ahhh others beat me to it lol
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,146
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 Fri Mar 28, 2014, 12:34pm
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong? Please help!
 

CMIN Said:

edit - ahhh others beat me to it lol

Posted March 28, 2014 link

ah, but I was so much less animated than you, Chris! :-)

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


Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Mar 28, 2014, 12:46pm
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong? Please help!
 

ses90 Said:

No this isn't a scam..

And, I wouldn't be asking for help if I knew what I was doing?

Posted March 28, 2014 link

I still think you are scamming us.  If not, read
Click Here (www.home-barista.com)
and
http://www.frcndigital.com/coffee/HowToEspresso.html

(the thing about tamping with the spoon was way over the top...)

B
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ses90
Senior Member


Joined: 28 Mar 2014
Posts: 7
Location: Ohio
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Fri Mar 28, 2014, 2:11pm
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong? Please help!
 

I tried to a bunch of research the other night and that is where I read that you can tamp with a spoon if you don't have a tamper.

I really appreciate the quick responses from everyone. Sorry that I am one of those people that love Starbucks.. I am originally from the middle of nowhere and have never experienced true espresso. Okay so I understand now that my problem is basically my entire setup. I was unsure about grinding my own since through my research is seems that espresso has to have a perfect even grind. I read the "how to" and he has it down to an exact science. I guess I am going to have to educate myself a bit more!  

What if I don't have $1000 upfront to buy nice equipment? Is there any other alternative? Maybe a cheaper espresso machine that isn't just a steamer like the one I have now?

Once again, I am very grateful for everyone's advice! Thanks!
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brianl
Senior Member


Joined: 1 Dec 2012
Posts: 483
Location: Chicago IL
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Vetrano DB
Grinder: HG One, OE Lido 2, Baratza...
Drip: Chemex/V60
Roaster: Behmor 1600
Posted Fri Mar 28, 2014, 2:20pm
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong? Please help!
 

(You can probably get a used gaggia classic for about $250 on ebay and a refurbished Baratza Vario for $360 (https://www.baratza.com/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?search=action&category=RFRB). Is ~$600 doable?

We don't really care that you love Starbucks, as they are the most common to people. This forum is just the .0001% of the population that is involved with the high quality coffee/espresso market. Honestly, I would first stop off at a quality roaster on your next trip somehwere or if there is one local to see if espresso is even your thing. The espresso we drink and the starbucks 'espresso' are completely different animals. You might even prefer concentrated coffee using somehting like the Aeropress (Click Here (www.amazon.com)).
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emradguy
Senior Member
emradguy
Joined: 31 Mar 2011
Posts: 3,146
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 Fri Mar 28, 2014, 2:22pm
Subject: Re: What am I doing wrong? Please help!
 

I'd say probably the cheapest you can get away with up front is a Hario Skerton (~$50) and a MyPressi Twist (less than $200).  Unfortunately, this will only get you espresso, so you'll still need a milk solution.  Bodum offers two options.  One is a handheld electric mini-whisk and I think it costs about $20 (+/- $10).  The other Bodum option is the glass cylinder with the screen plunger.  It looks like a minature french press.  I suspect they sell for slightly more than the electric one.  Neither one of those heats milk though.  Nespresso sells their Aerocino unit for about $100 separately from their pod machine.  It heats milk and froths it by merely pushing a button.  It's nothing like you'd get from a machine like the Gaggia Classic, but it's decent and probably on par with the *$$ froth.

If you decide on the Hario grinder, there's a very simple modification that you can do to make it stepless and therfore, infinitely adjustable. It involves replacing a bearing with one from Home Depot (or similar) for less than a dollar.  There are threads here outlining how to do it.  

These things will get you by while you save money, and will be great for a travel setup too.

More reading here...www.espressomyespresso.com Read article 12 under "how to" Easy Guide to Better Espresso at Home

 
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Always remember the most important thing is what ends up in your cup!
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