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Thread: Are these variables okay?

  1. #1
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    Are these variables okay?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all,

    I purchased a Sunbeam Em4300 the other day and I've not had much luck getting anything drinkable out of it yet.

    Been messing around with grind size, dosing, tamping... Everything seems to come out under extracted. Apart from one coffee that was drinkable, that I hadn't done anything different with in the two following attempts. The two following ones did not come out well at all.

    Anyway, I've noticed a few things and began some testing. Even when dosing the same, tamping the same, making sure there's no channels etc, the pour time can vary from 6 seconds to 14.

    So I have just put two shot glasses under the portafilter, ran some single shots (manual says they are 30ml) and timed it.

    When I hit the 30ml mark, I turned the shot off. If not it keeps dripping quite heavily for some time.

    There's no coffee in the single filter in these test runs.

    30ml Shot Times
    16.23 secs
    15.1 secs
    17.22 secs
    14.69 secs (note: the shot poured so fast on this one I missed the 30ml measurement. This was for 45ml)
    15.67 secs
    15.5 (also super fast, 45ml)
    14.19

    The 45ml is a bit worrying. If I had off let the pour drip our, it would been about 60ml. And of course the machine pushes out more than 30ml if you don't stop it too.

    I also noticed, on a third of the pours, the water came out fairly evenly from both spouts. It favoured the left slightly, but only by about 5%.

    On the rest of them, the water predominantly came out of the left spout. It's had something around 25ml in the left, 5ml in the right.

    That doesn't seem like a good thing when trying to pass water evenly through coffee.

    Anyway, is the above normal? Can I still make a good drink with this machine?

    Thank you all!
    Last edited by Alaerhyn; 14th January 2018 at 08:43 PM.

  2. #2
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    Just did another pour while serving dinner. I didn't time it but the left shot glass had 40ml and the right 10ml.

    Also, I checked and the machine is level.

  3. #3
    Senior Member WhatEverBeansNecessary's Avatar
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    So just so I get it correct - you are just pushing water through the group handle with no coffee loaded into the basket?

    Not ideal to have such a variation, but I wouldn't let it bother you too much. The coffee in the basket will act as a diffuser of sorts and spread the water evenly over the puck if the grind, tamp etc are all on point.

    Lot's of new members try really hard to nail down every little variable from the start - unfortunately this is pretty tough on any machine and more so on the lower end machines like sunbeams and brevilles etc.

    What i would focus on now with the setup is getting roughly 30ml in 30 sec with coffee in basket. Use your phone to time the pour and weigh or measure the glasses and adjust the grind from there. The grind will be the largest variable in the pour and tamp is a fine tune. No matter which machine you use (unless you have a very accurate volumetric doser) you will find the average shot may be 30 but nay given one will be 25-35ml. Unless you are a professional coffee nose I would think it tough for someone tell tell the difference in the cup by taste alone.

    Happy to give you some advice (as I am sure many of us will be) probably need to know more about the beans and grinder as well. But keep in mind taste will always be the no.1 determination if the shot is good or not.
    level3ninja likes this.

  4. #4
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Sounds like your coffee isn't ground fine enough, or it's too old and stale. Where did you get the coffee from? Does the coffee have a roast date or an expiry date?

  5. #5
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    As a matter of interest, the above characteristics were observed using the original Dual-Wall Filter Baskets, were they?

    Since this machine uses a 58mm Group Handle, it might be worth taking it along to your local cafe of choice and ask them to see if a standard 58mm Filter Basket will fit. If so, you will achieve much better results in the cup if you can grab a decent Double Basket from one of our Site Sponsors or another reputable specialist retailer. They're not expensive and will last a lifetime...

    Mal.

  6. #6
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    Thanks, WhatEverBeansNecessary. Yep, it was with just water through the group handle. Just to test how much water it pushed out. But if it's not much of a problem, then that's great. I'll leave it be. I agree, there are so many variables. I'll just ignore my tests and try and get everything else right like you suggest.

    Best I've gotten so far was 30ml over 24/25 seconds with 15g of coffee. That's with pretty hard tamping, so I'll need to try a finer grind, I presume.

  7. #7
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    The coffee is a little stale, yeah. It was roasted about a week ago, but as I don't have a grinder, I borrowed a friends, ground a whole heap up at different settings and then he went home with it. I've been using the different grinds over the last few days but I can taste and smell the difference, and it's starting to clump together a little bit. Sadly, I still didn't grind fine enough. Our gestimations were off. This damn machine seems to really like it fine.

  8. #8
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    Hi Dimal,

    Yeah, the tests I posted were with a dual wall filter. I did manage to get 30m in around 25 seconds with the dual wall but it tasted flavourless apart from being a bit bitter. Probably from the grounds going a bit stale, I guess?

    I am happy to report my single walled basket arrived in the mail today. I dosed it to 17g of coffee, tamped as hard as I could, and it gave me 30m in 13 seconds. Tasted like crap.

    Also, the puck stuck to the shower screen. Perfectly formed and just sitting there. With a little tap it came down. The basket is a double and wasn't overfilled. Under filled, if anything. Any idea why this happened?

    So now I'm searching around for grinders. Trying to decided between a Lido hand grinder, the 100 dollar Sunbeam one (I figure if it's crap and can't do what it's designed too, I can take it back and swap it over) or the Breville Smart Grinder Pro. I'm leaning toward the Smart Grinder, but I'm so strapped for cash at the moment, even on special at $200 it's a giant spend for me. Lame, I know... but it is what it is.

    Either way, I'm almost out of coffee and don't want to buy more preground from Merlo, so I'll have to make a discussion soon.



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