50 Shims of Pain?
Is this thread going to form the basis of your missus' Book No 3? Could be a real doozie.
50 Shims of Pain?
*grins* Could be in there... She had to live through the process.
Sounds about right for the EM0450 given the 440 price - I'm just assuming recent models have higher numbers based on 6900, 6910, 7000 etc.
Since I fixed the grinder I've noticed that even down on a 3 or 4 I wasn't getting the group head pressure I was getting from the EM0450 grinds, so yesterday afternoon I shimmed it. Took me 3 goes this morning to get a grind that DIDN'T start the group head undoing. But I'm back up around a 12 now and just got a beautiful double shot from it. And I didn't have to use Hulk-Smash tamping levels.
Something I was thinking about yesterday - I got asked what I thought of the EM6910 because this person had heard they were junk machines. I then thought about the people on here who have had issues and how some of them, after 1, 2, or 3 complaints to Sunbeam had finally got a working machine. It occurs to me we are seeing the end result of the LG policy re: Quality Control. LG do not bother with a QA Dept, they just make and ship. If things don't work they ship a new one. Apparently they looked at the situation and decided it is a lot cheaper to just replace ones that fail the process than it is to have an internal system - public QA staff are free and they don't have to provide office space.
What's to bet we will see a lot more of such things happening?
I wonder if their PR Depts know what effect so many people having faulty equipment has on the company reputation?
They are an ISO9001 certified company with strong quality commitment. ( see their Vision statement below)
LG maintain a TQM (Total Quality Management) culture with overall responsibility falling to a Senior Vice President of the company.
Possibly you do not understand current QA systems within a large manufacturing organization. Its not uncommon for companies not to have a "QA department" as such, instead the quality function and systems are integrated into ALL the company roles with every employee being held accountable for the output of their teams.
This may help you understand..
The Practices Of Lg Electronics Management Essay
I will bet you wont see any major manufacturer ignoring quality as a integral part of their processes. !!
With the strong encouragement of the CEO, LGE has reinforced to the enterprise QA organization, and is shaping the corporate culture to allow neither the slightest quality problem nor compromise on quality under the vision of “LG Electronics, Perceived as World Best Quality by Customers and Consumers”. LGE is also trying to provide consumers with the high-safety products by promoting enterprise quality activities and quality awareness.
Im sure LG have product failures ( as does every manufacturer),.. but that was not the issue discussed.
The statement was made that .." LG do not bother with a QA Dept," .. which is just not true, as explained.
your beef is with "Customer Service" .. possibly with a local agent even , rather than LGE themselves.
Its very difficult for a retail customer to make direct contact with the OEM functions in any company.
One product defect and poor local service support is enough for you to condemn an entire organization ?..
..that in itself is a good indication as to why no manufacturer can afford to ignore thorough QA systems.
I learned a long time ago not to trust ISO9001 certification - in all 8 sections there is no requirement to have quality control on the final product, only to have processes documented. One can employ consultants to develop a TQM policy and once the consultants leave the building you can have the certification and never have a QA staff at all.
About the closest it comes is Section 8: (Corporal Klinger anyone? )
It READS like you have to be checking your final product but you can be certified officially without ever doing so - you just have to demonstrate you have PROCESSES to do so. Actively following the results of monitoring and processes and fixing issues is not a requirement.8.1 Have processes suitable to ensure your services/products meet all relevant requirements (customer, yours, contractual, legal, etc). include improvement.
8.2 Monitor and measure processes and services/products (as necessary) to check you got the results you wanted:
8.2.1 Monitor customer perception of satisfaction.
8.2.2 Plan and implement a suitable program of internal system audits, including a procedure
8.2.3 Have suitable methods to monitor / measure your processes.
8.2.4 Monitor and measure products/services at suitable stages. Release the final only when all requirements are met.
8.3 Control nonconformity (services/products not meeting requirements) in suitable ways, including a written procedure.
I've seen plenty of companies with ISO9001 certs that fail consistently to provide a trouble-free experience. Ideally the cert process should provide a decent quality product, and many companies use it that way, but equally many use it as a advertising gimmick and fail to even provide follow-up surveys, improvement suggestions access, or regular reviews of customer issues - you have only to go on Whirlpool to see how things really work. The ISO9001 processes fail so often a lot of companies now have reps sitting on whirlpool dealing with upset customers.
My comment came from the installer of the new LG aircon we bought a few weeks back. He was commenting on what I should do if things didn't work and that the local LG reps from Melb had told him not to work on them, just send them back for replacement - it was cheaper for LG to do that. Apparently the QA area has suffered from cutbacks and they see it as cheaper to use their customers around the world as QA staff. Makes sense when you recall this is Goldstar rebadged.
Given comments I have seen online for LG smartphones, TV's and DVD players the philosophy seems to be active.
Let's keep it on topic folks. Off topic? Start a new thread!
Java "Slash 'n Burn" phile
Toys! I must have new toys!!!
SO, to bring this back on topic... I want a 2nd PF so I can get better pour times when I have people over. Nothing wrong with the one I have but I am wondering (cos I don't know) how standard PF's are?
Would I have to take mine with me when shopping to make sure I get one that fits?
Are there standard types and is the Sunbeam version one of the standards?
You are complaining about local Customer Service, and Retailer support, neither of which are relevant to Quality systems and are more likely related to the Aussie retailer policy's, and service skill levels.
At least your LG lasted the warranty period, which is more than some of these Sunbeam and Breville products are....... apparently.
and Journeyman... the PF is Sunbeam specific..possibly even 6910/6900 specific.
So... this might get me banned from CS...
I bought a $20 kg bag of Vittoria Espresso beans at Coles: 2 reasons, one was because I have friends quite capable of drinking Nescafé instant - I figure I don't want to waste me luvverly beans on them. Also I figured to see whether I could actually get a decent coffee from them.
Took 3 goes to get the right grind but when I did, it made a very presentable latté. Not as complex in flavour as the fresh roasts I have from Custom Coffees but as good as many of the better coffees I've gotten in cafés.
:-) I can hear the sound of rifle bolts sliding.... Vittoria? It must be good if Robert De Niro drinks the stuff Seriously though, I have to admit that I did something similar once for my parent's 60th wedding anniversary. No way I was roasting a couple of kilos of my precious Ethiopians for that unruly lot! Had no complaints but then I suspect that there were a lot of tea drinkers lining up for cappuccinos...
Vittoria, Coles!..........Demon be gone!....Demon be gone!!
Last edited by CafeLotta; 15th March 2013 at 07:24 PM.
Doesn't de Niro drink Nespresso? Or is that Clooney?
But seriously, is there ANYONE out there who would pay $36/kg or more for people who think Nescafé 43 bean crap is actually drinkable? I was drinking Moccona for my instant but that Nescafé is one step above powdered new-baby poo... I mean International Roast.
@CafeLotta - please... forgive me... I did it for the good of fine coffee drinkers everywhere. If we start espressing the good stuff for the plebs, the price will go up and we will have to pay more for our pleasure and they won't give a toss...
I've been reading around and one thing I cannot see mentioned anywhere is doing blind shots to clean the Sunbeam group head - instead I wind up wiping it regularly and I figure soon I'm taking it off to have a look inside. There just doesn't seem to be blind filters available nor mentioned so I am wondering if that type of cleaning isn't done on Sunbeams or maybe on low end machines at all? Maybe because the cheaper machines can't handle the back pressure or something?
Is that the case or am I just looking in wrong locations?
Should mention it in the manual. I believe it is dependent on having a 3-way valve.
My breville manual explicitly states not to do it.
Not mentioned in user manual. Service manual only has exploded views not instructions and it's a scan so bit difficult when zoomed to read the parts lists.
I'm guessing I should be doing it - I'll check when I have time to read through each info panel but quick look through doesn't show any 3-way valves in list. Could ring SB as well I guess.
I too own a Sunbeam 6910 and I backflush regularly using the single wall double basket and the rubber puck provided for this specific purpose My family goes through about 600g a week so it's getting a pretty good weekly bashing :P so at the end of the day I always brush the group head (if you don't have a brush, i highly recommend it!!), every second day is a backflush without any chemical using the automatic cleaning cycle that's in the program; weekly I take the screen off and get all the built up crap out of there and finally a monthly chemical clean out out using a tablet. And I like to soak all my baskets and group in some coffee chemical while i'm in the chemical kind of mood
So Journeyman, backflush away my friend
The rubber puck is the cleaning disk? That looks like a pretty good program for cleaning so thanks for that as well. Appreciated... I found a place on ebay that does the tablets as well as replacement group washers although I will check for more official sources. The ebay prices seem pretty good though.
You should definitely use the rubber disk, but I used cafetto espresso clean powder (about 1/2 tsp) in place of the SB tablets for over two years with no problems at all (machine still fine now, just don't use it anymore). Much cheaper than the tablets.
I ran some liquid cleaner that the local grinders swore by for descaling etc. After doing it I tested my water (I have an Aquaponics set up) and everything came up clean. pH was nicely on 7 - I use RO water so I wouldn't expect much else but scale would, I think, swing pH one way or the other. I'm guessing I admit because I didn't test the water prior to using the descaler.
Some things I have learned...
Previous owners of my EM06910 were about as interested in cleaning as a hobo in a trash pile. I left the machine for a month before pulling the group head assembly off again. Hardly any gunk in there - bit of brown on the shower screen and a few smudges on the filter above that - NOTHING like the caked gunk I removed the first time. I don't know if they ever cleaned it but I'm guesstimating it would take a year or more for me to approach that level of build up.
Grinding - that little rubber spout thingy that came with the 6910 is not a spare part for the machine, it belonged with the EM0480 grinder I got with the 6910. Ran the end of it under hot water to soften it and it fits beautifully over the spout of the grinder - voila! no more grounds mess around the bench. Level of dumbness in not realising sooner? About 9 out of 10... le sigh
Tamping - after reading about naked and tamping issues I found a way to get about as even as I can be without using a naked PF to check. I've always tamped to the weight I wanted then twisted the tamp about half a turn. On looking at the results I found I often had a slope on the puck. Now I know all you experienced caffeinators will snigger and point at me, but I have discovered that if I press down to the required weight, then release and THEN turn the tamp, I get a lovely even surface, nicely polished from the turn and a better pour. It seems it was the turning under pressure that was making my tamps uneven.
People LOVE my lattes and capps since I started putting the sugar (or Natvia - the missus and I prefer not to use sugar in anything we can avoid and Natvia is a great natural substitute) in the milk before frothing. One of the reasons I was never particularly fond of lattes was the taste of the milk - since milk went plastic I have never much liked it, particularly hot, which is why I started buying the powdered milk - SOOO much better in taste. So if I tried a latte, I'd add the sugar and stir, but the first few mouthfuls always had that taste of plastic milk with no countering sweetness. A couple of people who have tried lattes/capps my way have now requested their local café to make it that way. Adding the sugar to the milk means the whole cup is sweetened and from the first mouthful to the last the taste is consistent.
Obviously it would be a bit of a hassle for a barista in a busy cafe making several at a time, but maybe for regulars it could be a nice thing to do? But I'd be interested on opinions if others try this method - some people might like the variation in flavours as they work their way down a coffee.
Journeyman (mainly #128 follow up)
Your tribulations & persistence (EM0480) have inspired me to join coffee snobs to post this. I am also a tinkerer, who happened to read this thread today (could have saved you a ton of trouble, le sigh – to quote you). To save you a lot more grief, there are a few tips for you at the bottom.
I have two EM0480 / 6910 combinations (and a La Pavoni P/TLE two group plus a Boema commercial grinder).
Firstly there are two different EM0480's, the newer one is far better and more consistent than the old one. The old one needs shimming properly, adjusting properly and cleaning properly before it will think about working, then you can beat it into (eventual) submission. Then it will grind very well indeed. The conical burrs are not interchangeable between the EM0480's, as the whole shape of the top and bottom burrs are different. Taking the hopper off and looking straight down, the old one has very sawtooth outer burrs visible (i.e. like crunch gearbox “dog cogs”), the new one appears almost flattish in comparison. FWIW, it sounds like yours is the old one. That is partially why you had so many conflicting posts.
There are also two different 6910's. You need to know which one, as they are quite different to operate. Why Sunbeam did not change the model number of both the grinders and the 6910's is a complete mystery to me.
The earlier 6910 is noisier, comes with a brass portafilter holder (discard plastic insert on sight, that is the other reason I am chipping in here – you deserve it by figuring that out!) and has a round red button on the drip tray to show waste water level. It takes cups which are about 4mm higher than the newer model. More powerful espresso pump and less powerful milk pump. Paul Bassett is on the DVD with his signature drink on the old one, deleted on the new one. The old one has probably 30% more holes in the lower showerscreen. Old one has around 2mm of metal around the central holes, the new has around 10mm (from memory neither measured). That has an enormous effect on the machine's delivered pressure, performance with single basket (old: 0, new: 1), also the gauge reading and the response to overdosing (old: 1, new: 0). Even the single floor baskets are different – one has a sharpish ridge to seal at the top, the other is rounded at the top. The holes are also different – if the holes look like crosses, they are passable (just). If the holes look round, buy VST's asap. Swapping the showerscreens around proved the fewer holes does massively better singles in either machine, doubles need the extra holes. Tip: get the “other” showerscreen if you make the other type of coffee more often.
The newer one is quieter, comes with a stainless steel portafilter holder (a lot lighter than the brass one, if it had a plastic insert I would have binned it immediately) and has a red bar on the drip tray to show waste water level.
Feel free to ask anything about either 6910 once you identify which one you have.
Now to my main tips –
After messing around with brushes etc. on your EM0480, try a compressed airline with a functional water trap at 40psi (I have used mine on all my electronic work for 20+ years). Better do it outside for the first time, even after all your cleaning efforts. After 250g of some coffees, it could still fill a large room with dust.
After three months you will wonder why the 6910 is no longer making consistent coffee. The 6910's are hairtrigger sensitive on pressure. The ONLY way I can clean the 6910 showerscreens (and baskets for that matter) is to drop them in a solvent (meths is good, toluene also works). Watch it turn brown! For the first time, I still had to attack them with a toothbrush afterwards. All the “in machine cleaners”, scrubbers etc, do not get all the coffee out so it builds up into a sticky tar & futzes the pressure up.
Buy some VST baskets – the “cross shaped holed” Sunbeam ones are OK, the round hole versions are hopeless. The 15g VST is more than equivalent to the Sunbeam 16g double basket in terms of strength. If you are a real fiend, VST's go up to 22g...
My friend's Gaggia has portfilter handles which interchange with the 6910, unsure of the actual model, so you may pursue that as an option. Then use a lathe (preferred, the handle unscrews) or hole saw (brass portafilter only) and convert it to a naked portafilter. I cannot see why allowing the fresh espresso to go into a funnel, then a spout and then finally dropping into a cup is a good idea. As stated, the 6910 is pressure sensitive, so a VST / naked combo will amaze you when you get it right. If it sprays everywhere, you need to work on your tamping. Better coffee than my La Pavoni by miles. Hint: If normal grind is 11, start by going down to 9 and reduce your dose by 10-15% and prepare to be stunned. The VST/naked makes more difference than all my other mods added together. FWIW, when you get it right, the crema is persistant for 5 mins or so as espresso, all day (well over an hour!) as a latte. Crema is delicate, why shove it around?
Anyway, feel free to reply if you want more details.
Last edited by TampIt; 17th August 2013 at 01:45 AM. Reason: Three minor typos (oops!)
*grins* So if my trials and tribulations brought you here they were of some extra value after all. Thanks for the explanations and glad to have your expertise around.
I think the similarity of the EM0450 and the EM0480 would confirm it is the older model.Firstly there are two different EM0480's, the newer one is far better and more consistent than the old one. The old one needs shimming properly, adjusting properly and cleaning properly before it will think about working, then you can beat it into (eventual) submission. Then it will grind very well indeed. The conical burrs are not interchangeable between the EM0480's, as the whole shape of the top and bottom burrs are different. Taking the hopper off and looking straight down, the old one has very sawtooth outer burrs visible (i.e. like crunch gearbox “dog cogs”), the new one appears almost flattish in comparison. FWIW, it sounds like yours is the old one. That is partially why you had so many conflicting posts.
They’re bastards is why.There are also two different 6910's. You need to know which one, as they are quite different to operate. Why Sunbeam did not change the model number of both the grinders and the 6910's is a complete mystery to me.
My showerscreen has maybe 3-4mm blank metal around the edge, but my drip tray has the bar not a button. You do mean the showerscreen for the ‘metal around the central holes’ correct?The earlier 6910 is noisier, comes with a brass portafilter holder (discard plastic insert on sight, that is the other reason I am chipping in here – you deserve it by figuring that out!) and has a round red button on the drip tray to show waste water level. (and has a red bar on the drip tray to show waste water level.) It takes cups which are about 4mm higher than the newer model. More powerful espresso pump and less powerful milk pump. Paul Bassett is on the DVD with his signature drink on the old one, deleted on the new one. The old one has probably 30% more holes in the lower showerscreen. Old one has around 2mm of metal around the central holes, the new has around 10mm (from memory neither measured). That has an enormous effect on the machine's delivered pressure, performance with single basket (old: 0, new: 1), also the gauge reading and the response to overdosing (old: 1, new: 0).
The filters have rounded tops (definitely not a sharp ridge) but the holes are round.Even the single floor baskets are different – one has a sharpish ridge to seal at the top, the other is rounded at the top. The holes are also different – if the holes look like crosses, they are passable (just). If the holes look round, buy VST's asap. Swapping the showerscreens around proved the fewer holes does massively better singles in either machine, doubles need the extra holes. Tip: get the “other” showerscreen if you make the other type of coffee more often.
I have a spare handle I am planning to convert to a naked… Both of them ‘feel’ heavier than I would expect for stainless.The newer one is quieter, comes with a stainless steel portafilter holder (a lot lighter than the brass one, if it had a plastic insert I would have binned it immediately)…
I think I have the newer 6910 but some of the characteristics seem to fit the older model (showerscreen edge and handles possibly being brass)
Am I correct in thinking your advice is to get other filters seeing mine have round holes? I have 2 sets of similar ones, 2 x single/2 x double dual floor and 2 x single/2 x double single floor. Would finding different ones make a difference?
I have just bought a new collar - changing to a new washer has not prevented a leak down the edge of the showerscreen nor changed the 5 clock position for a tight seal. That's a project for this weekend. But the collar in there and the metal part the water comes out of look OK - would wear be noticeable? The meatl plate inside the collar seems fairly corrosion free if a little brown, but I'm seeing all metal when I use the brush on it.
I have changed the order of your post to streamline my reply / rant.
EM0480 grinder: I agree - just found a photo of 450 looking straight down, much more like the old one. The visible top burr of the new one is barely a houndtooth away from flat. The old one is clearly cogs. Intriguingly, page 8 of the sunbeam 450 manual (the online em0450_ib_web_version one) clearly shows the new type of upper burr in page 8, figure 8 right next to the old lower burr, figure 10. So does the online em0480_ib.pdf on page 13. Putting them together would be an interesting example of futility. FWIW, the em0490_ib_web_version shows both new ones on page 17.
Baskets: Short answer, replace immediately. IF you really want a detailed long answer, let me know (I wrote half an A4 page on this before deciding it was a waste of a post). Yours are probably very early old 6910 (one friend has an initial generation 6910 with the round shoulder baskets, as are almost all current Sunbeam spares in WA) or even 6900 baskets. Who cares if you replace them?
Now onto the 6910 (sigh...alarm bells and cautionary tale to follow)
Drip Tray: Sounds like new one.
Lower showerscreen: Sounds like old one. New one is 35mm across centre holes, 10mm of metal around that = 55mm diameter. Qn, why use a 55mm basket and a 35mm set of holes?
Spare handle: Sounds like old one. Scratch the underside and see if it is brass. If it is, a good 2” holesaw will do the job. If not, use a very good lathe gently angled & slowly AFTER unscrewing the handle (throws the balance out).
Collar: short version: new one is probably not needed. Check VERY carefully that all connections are correct AND the correct collar is actually fitted correctly.
Overall: I suspect you have a mixture of 6910's. One of my friends bought a "supposedly just repaired" 6910 on ebay and it is close to 50-50. Reminds me of rebirthing stolen cars. At a guess, yours may have been badly repaired by an idiot. That means you may be somewhere on the same path I managed to achieve (not a good thing). If you have not replaced the collar yet, please let me know and I will write up my cautionary tale (probably take a few days). It took a warranty trainwreck plus my newer 6910 leaking before I finally was forced to drop everything less important than coffee (i.e. work and life) and figured the s.o.b. out.
All the best.
Winston Churchill: Never ever ever ever ever give up.
Sorry. I actually meant to add this before you made your naked p/f and the other bit about the collar hopefully before you carry out unnecessary major surgery.
I have a spare handle I am planning to convert to a naked… Both of them ‘feel’ heavier than I would expect for stainless. Hopefully they are brass / chrome coated. Probably irrelevant as the coffee should never touch them anyway. That is unless you somehow match my (hopefully one off) "monumental tamping stuff-up" and spray 5 metres across the kitchen in a straight line! So much for haste. Stainless is much harder to work than brass unless you have the right gear. FWIW, the weight difference is actually somewhat less than you would expect, I suspect they weighted the handle of the stainless one more to balance it nicely (which guys like me immediately stuff up by lathing the bottom out of it...).
Tip: the springs are also different, you may have to tinker with their tension to hold the basket properly. I always dump my grounds outside in a chosen part of the garden with a quick flick. I really did not expect to see basket and all flying into the shrubs when I first lathed the stainless one... Quality control note: banging the portafilter is never needed unless something is wrong with your coffee. The grounds should come out easily with a flick and form a single dry(ish) puck. The best pucks (& therefore coffees) stay whole after a 2m impact.
I have just bought a new collar - changing to a new washer has not prevented a leak down the edge of the showerscreen nor changed the 5 clock position for a tight seal. Would wear be noticeable? It should not have much wear, my old 6910 had done 5000+ cups before it started to leak like that and (in 100% clear hindsight) I could have adjusted the extra play out or used a spacer and/or a new seal (I presume your “washer” is the blue seal) to fix it. It sounds like the same type of leak, however so does the wrong collar. Theoretically, your new collar is an EM6910106, if it says anything else, it is probably the wrong one.
FWIW, I would start by trying a spacer above the seal, below the collar (a theoretical 0.5mm paper one, compresses down to 0.2 or 0.3mm). Or perhaps just pull it apart and check everything is tight and fits properly first - your call, depending on how suspicious you are. If you can make a rocker cover gasket out of a wheat bix packet, feel free to make your own. If is the quick & dirty way of taking the play out for testing. Another way is to shave up to a millimetre from the group handle lugs, but be sure it is needed before you attack things without due cause.
I think I might take it apart anyway and check everything. The leak doesn't always happen but does occur often enough I am fairly sure it isn't my technique blowing the seal. (yes, the blue one) Once it is apart (& I have a guide for collar replacement downloaded from one of the members here) I can look at a washer to fit above the seal and see what effect it has.
The new seal didn't change the location of a snug fit for the pf which is why I got the collar; the only marking on it is VH but I did check the number in the advert against the Sunbeam parts list in the Service Manual and it matched. I also bought 2 spacer/washers from the same vendor (they were only $1 each) so my rocker cover gasket skills will not be tested - been 35 years since I had to make one for my VW Kombi.
Basket replacement may be problematic; I'll probably have to go traipsing around coffee places with my pf in hand until I find the right type. le sigh. Sounds like a waste of the 8 I have... OK the double floor ones were already a waste but I have 4 single floors...
The burrs on my 2 machines are definitely not almost flat - there's photos of them on the 1st page or so of this thread.
The showerscreen holes are definitely more than 35mm across. The tray doesn't quite fit right so you're probably correct it has been changed over - the spout is snug but the sides coming from the spout area don't quite follow the contours near the edge.
Only numbers on it (unless there's something hidden in the guts) is a bar code one and a type 619 on thye back plate. (apart from EM6910) Also says Designed in Australia and Made in China. I guess from your descriptions I have a mixed up machine - girl selling it said she'd bought it new about 2 years (now about 3 years) back.
So... next step is dismantling - hopefully I don't get to find out if fresh ground beans are good in a percolator. Probably a good thing to do anyway and check it all over - I found a cockroach in the grinder when I was trying to get it working properly so someone wasn't very good on their maintenance.
First a disclaimer: I have nothing to do with any of these companies in a commercial or personal sense. There is no conflict of interest stuff here. I also have a complete paper trail of all the havoc from my end. I also have a barely used 6900 collar going “real cheap” courtesy of a serious contender for the worst repairer in the world award.
I bought my old 6910 / 480 combo on special, supposedly new, from Harvey Norman Belmont. With the benefit of hindsight, the drip tray looked new, the rest didn't. It sprang a leak from behind the gauge after a week. Sunbeam's Natalie was brilliant. I took it to Goddards* under warranty and was told it had already done 3,000 to 5,000 cups of coffee. The unit had been badly transported (not by me, I took it home in the box) which was why the pipe into the gauge had cracked. Meanwhile an actual Sunbeam service technician (name not taken) let slip how to date a 6910 and mine was over 18 months old (Aug 2008 manufacture) at the time of purchase. A friend of mine who lives in the area told me that he thought one of the HN staff's partners ran a coffee kiosk. If so, it explains a lot. Contacting HN Belmont manager about it certainly hit a brick wall.
Goddards* (tragedy) no longer do Sunbeam. Goddards are one of the best repairers in Perth, they also do /did Hitachi, Panasonic & Philishave amongst a ton of others and my family has about 20 years of great dealings with them over that time. The Goddards guy showed me the bedding in wear, but we agreed it had well over 95% of it's life left. He reckoned the 6910 was seriously impressive for a domestic machine. He actually commented that the only way to kill a 6910 was to use Perth's (industrial waste fluoridated) tap water, which “would rip the guts out of any decent coffee machine”. I decided to keep it. A side note: the 480 was actually one out of a stack, and really was new.
Nearly a year later the 6910 started to leak around the showerscreen (just like yours, Journeyman). 5 Senses at Rockingham was the nearest Sunbeam authorised repairer – about a km from where I live. They damn near destroyed it by using a 6900 collar instead of a 6910 collar. Not too mention leaving out a lot of screws and using wrong screws at random angles whilst seriously warping the frame – to the point that you actually had use a screwdriver to lever the back door open. It leaked like a sieve, far worse than when it went into them. Adam at Sunbeam meanwhile rates as the least helpful customer service person I have ever dealt with. Arguably even worse than a Telco from hell. The “repairs” and “customer service” (sorry for the loose wording) dragged on far too long. Three months and half a dozen contacts each – ever read catch 22? I lived it. Sunbeam told me to talk to 5 Senses, 5 Senses refused to look at the machine with me present. I even took it into Colin (service manager) @5 and was sent off emptyhanded. Criminal level of negligence and incompetence, IMHO.
Side note for Journeyman: How do you tell if it is 6900 or 6910 collar? Check how many screws and lugs the collar has around the edge. I just hauled my new, unwanted 6900 collar out to check it for you. It has 5 main screw holes / locating pins at the "non-visible top", plus a small extra locating pin / screw hole. The other side has what looks like 2 sets of double screw mounting slots and 2 sets of single screw mounting slots plus a few locating lugs. I did not repair this part myself so I only know the whole screw and lug pattern is completely different in the 6910 collar as they are only interchangeable if you have a sloping forehead and are also able to drag your knuckles on the ground whilst standing erect. I only saw them together once, from memory, the 6910 uses three screws, however I am not 100% sure.
Whilst this was all unfolding I had to make a decision. My 2 group La Pav needs a spare power station, 30 minute delay and 5 double coffees to get its A into G. After that, it is excellent for churning them out. Good commercial machine, not recommended at all for a “quality single domestic morning coffee”. I ran out of patience & bought my newer 6910 (surprisingly, NOT from HN) without realising they were different until I unpacked the box. First hint (not counting the drip tray bar) was that my cups did not fit under it...
Anyway, eventually I took the old 6910 which was flooding by now and not making anything like coffee, into Coffee Classic in Hilton in the hope they could sort it out. The new 6910 was still making worse coffee than the original 6910 at its early peak or even the La Pav's first few cups and I was starting to lose it...
At Coffee Classic: After half an hour or so I had an almost new 6900 collar in my possession while I briefly saw a totally different 9610 collar. I also heard a loud twang as the frame went back to where it should have been and heard the tech cursing in Asian out the back (sounded like cursing, I only know generic Euro abuse) whilst he was rummaging through his collection of screws trying to get enough of the correct ones to fit back into my unit. I left him to it. Best $110 I have ever spent went to Coffee Classic. The old 6910 is a lot better than when I first bought it.
As it happened, after the old 6910 was repaired it ended up at a friend-in-need's place for three months. About the time I was reunited, the new 6910 started to experience a very minor leak from the grouphead... (segue to bowl of petunias in Hitch-hiker’s guide to the galaxy).
Now for the good things: knowledge gained under extreme pain is always appreciated. I put on my diagnostic cap, rolled up the metaphorical sleeves and started getting seriously into the machines.
First goal was to figure out why 6910's seemed to be prone to leaking from the group head. Collar wear was minimal (the newer one had done less than 500 cups), new seals did not seem to help much. Dealing with weird things until understanding arrives is one of my quirks / faults / strengths (probably all three of them). Second (longer term) was to somehow force the new 6910 into making the same quality of coffee as the old one or prove it could not be done.
Initial approach – I knew CC had 0.5mm spacers for the 6910. They fit above the seal and below the group head. Using one in the new 6910 effectively sorted the leak out, even after it compressed down to 0.2mm (digital callipers) in a few days. The spacer also reset the p/f handle to the 6 o'clock position (i.e. back to new). A quick, dirty and probably semi permanent fix.
Then I tried using old 6910 brass p/f in the new 6910 without using the spacer. It locked at 6 o'clock and stopped the leak instantly. Taking a deep breath and a masochism pill, I tried the new stainless steel p/f handle in the old 6910 – it moved to the end of play and promptly leaked. Measuring the distance between the lugs and the top of the brass p/f handle and comparing it to the stainless steel one: a difference of 0.24mm. Measuring the grouphead to collar distance – 0.27mm difference.
Leak conclusion: As the new 6910's bed in, the distance between the grouphead and the (upper) collar mounting point may shift slightly. Any leak at that point can actually be fixed by reseating the collar, adjusting the grouphead or even by bending the frame (the 5 place proved that was possible to bend the frame, even though it still leaked). Remounting the parts to take up the slack, shimming it or effectively playing with the internal clearances by any number of other methods would also be possible solutions. The main point is that after they bed in, they are unlikely to move any further. Using a card / paper spacer is also actually a long term fix, as is grinding the p/f handle lugs.
I can now make virtually the same quality of coffee with either 6910. How? I swapped over to the old 6910 lower showerscreen, used the old p/f & then reprogrammed the new 6910 temperature (shipped at 90.2, not 92) and pressure (it was 0.8 bar down) to match the old one more closely. The main board can be calibrated and obviously was not done so before shipping. No wonder it made worse coffee. The only other issue is the main pump has less power than the old unit (so does every other new one I have seen). Eventual success cost: a second 6910 plus (say) $200 (mainly due to some unethical behaviour by the named others plus a few odd parts) plus a truckload of time to sort the havoc. The stainless p/f lugs are also now 0.24mm lower than shipped and the two p/f's are fully interchangeable. A side effect was that the basket was originally sitting lower in the new 6910 which affected the dosing size and therefore pressure... Needing more coffee in the basket and using a weaker pump was the rest of the puzzle. Remember what I said about hairtrigger on pressure?
Tip: The pressure gauge can probably be recalibrated as well, I did not bother. My old one is “correct” at 3 o'clock whilst the recalibrated new one is correct at about 2 o'clock now. Get the coffee right and then see where the gauge is sitting. My experience so far: only about 50% of 6910's are actually correct in the noon position “on the gauge” as shipped. All old 6910's are accurate in temp and pressure once they are cleaned, whilst most new 6910's vary from slightly to radically out. Cost saving by Sunbeam?
Anyway, you can see why I admire your tenacity with the grinder, keep going with the 6910 and you will have really superb long term coffee. My next post is the detailed reply to your last post. Hopefully that should give you all you need to sort the rest of your issues out.
You have described the early 6910 frame exactly. Hopefully you also have the early pump.
The leak you described so clearly this time is either a dud repair or due to inconsistent pressure. Contrary to a lot of posts I have read, the collar or the seal is rarely the problem. It took four 6910 seals before I realised that, maybe I am too trusting or just thick? Each one went a few weeks and then started to leak. After I sorted the clearances out, the original seal (which actually has a small tear in it) sealed perfectly and is still in my newer 6910. Makes sense, my La Pav seals are at least 10 yo, they don't leak (yet).
FWIW, I am unsure whether gunk in the rest of the unit could bork the pressure. The first thing I always do is to run a cleaning solution through the unit until I know all is clean up to the showerscreens. If not, earlier gunk may be a possible culprit. I presume your comment is after using a strong solvent on the two showerscreens, holding them up to a strong light or using magnifier / microscope to check them etc. etc. If they are not pristine, they are the most likely cause of your problem. 6910's will leak quite happily if the pressure varies during the shot (don't ask, I actually managed this one as well). I didn't think it was my technique either... The upper / inner showercreen is particularly hard to clean as it has tapered holes which can trap an inordinate amount of what I call "coffee tar". When it gets hot, the tar moves around, often blocks holes at random and varies the pressure.
After cleaning everything else thoroughly the spacer(s) should stop the leaking unless something is wrong inside the main unit somewhere. BTW, undo the centre screw, remove the showerscreens and seal and then pop the spacer in. There is no need to pull the rest apart or touch the collar to do that (quick & dirty fix for testing remember).
Baskets: Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Replace on sight. They flow unevenly which means the coffee extraction is highly variable within the basket. They also tend to channel like crazy. A naked p/f will show you this all too clearly. Take the whole thing outside, place it at or just above eye level & then use safety glasses & protective headgear as a minimum. Stand close enough to see the underside of the naked p/f whilst trying to avoid the spray. Alternatively, use a mirror, however it is much more difficult to see the individual streams underneath for the crucial first ten seconds or so. Every stream underneath will be a different speed & colour while you can experience it spraying everywhere – even if your tamping is quite sound. It is literally impossible to get a coffee out of the 6910 up to a reasonable standard without at least the crossed ones, which cost about the same as VST's anyway (IF you can get them, we can only get round Sunbeam ones in WA for $30 each as far as I know).
I have La Pavoni, Synesso, Krups, Breville, Sunbeam (too many sets), Rancilio, Exobar, La Cimbali (ditto), Gaggia and Saeco baskets around here somewhere (and probably a few others I have forgotten about). Oh, yes, and some La Marzocco pre VST baskets. La Marzocco are now using VST baskets – regard that as a strong, compelling hint... The new La Marzocco Strada is the best machine I have ever laid my eyes on (circa $15,000 I guess it should be) and it now comes with the VST's they commissioned. FWIW, the coffee quality out of my La Pavoni improved so much with the VST / naked combo (the 6910's are not the only p/f to receive this treatment from me) I initially thought I had mixed the cups up. Transformational. Look VST's up online and see a few reviews or go to their web site in the USA. The crossed Sunbeam or the newer Synesso are a very, very distant second and the rest I have here are a bad joke. Look at the others under a microscope and wonder how anyone can get any decent quality of espresso out of them. Your round hole Sunbeams - I could send you two or three complete sets of them (some unused) if I wanted to waste more of your time. I should probably “round file” them, together with most of the other stray baskets I have accumulated.
Purchasing VST's: Unlike the portafilter handle, which is semi unique, the 6910 takes standard 55mm commercial baskets. Your Sunbeam double is approx 16g (the cross type one is 16g, I think the round ones are similar in size). A naked / VST combo will have close to 50% stronger flavour as well as being sweeter with a better crema. VST's also take significantly longer to “blond” which is a sure sign you are getting more out of the coffee. I bought a complete set of ridgeless VST's (15,18,20 & 22g) plus a 7g single (ridged only). Even the 20g is overkill for uber-strong iced coffees, whilst the 15g is plenty for normal cups (or even 350ml mugs for that matter). I tend to use the 7g a lot now that I have finally sorted out the combo. The 7g makes such a brilliant 250ml latte it was recently described by a friend as “a meal in a cup” because it is so rich in flavour and persistent in clean aftertaste.
Consider this: A pod machine uses approx 4 to 5g of coffee and is very efficient at getting the flavour out (unfortunately together with a plastic / metallic taste which may actually be curable). It is easily strong enough for a single. Unless you are making ristretto's a 7g is probably all you need once the whole 480 / 6910 is completely sorted out. During the tinkering part, the 15g is probably a better bet as you can still enjoy the near misses. Remembering, the 6910 is ultimately cantankerous on pressure and cleanliness. Doubles are so much easier to deal with until you really know your machine...
Yet another note: VST's also need a flat bottom tamper - the early 6910's come with a reasonable (i.e. quite usable+) flat bottom one, the later ones have a curved bottom. I would machine it flat if you have the new one, or buy a decent flat one. Mark Prince or the VST site (I forget which) has a ton of info as to why that is needed. Short version: Curved bottom tampers are a futile attempt to overcome the most common shortcomings in traditional baskets & the way water “flows” through them in most boiler type machines... VST / naked in a thermoblock 6910 can go severely backwards with a curved tamper (so can crossed Sunbeam baskets, probably for the same reason).
Hope this doesn't just sound like a plug: I bought my ridgeless (recommended, not ridged) VST's online through Pullman in SA for just over $30 each. Brilliant, quick service. Anyway, Pullman can match one of his tampers to the VST's if you get them through him in the same order. Highly recommended if you have the $$$'s. Be warned though, Pullman tampers are extremely addictive... I am waiting for my second one now after his Jarrah / 316 Barista one made me hate using anything else. Considering I have over 50 tampers plus access to an engineering shop with a wall full of 316 stainless at my beck and call, I am still buying another wooden handle (nicer temperature and feel in the hand than metal or acetal) 316 Pullman. Art combined with quality in a precision tool is always worth extra.
Tip: I had already sorted out the pressures for the naked portafilter about a month or so before the VST's were ordered. I needed all of that month, plus about another month after VST D-day to get consistency out of the VST's. To add perspective, I usually only make two (very good) coffees a day. I actually had to go back to the way I was taught to tamp in the '70's and return to first principles in virtually every other area. After nearly 40 years of making espresso, that was quite a surprise, not to mention ego trim. YMMV. These days looking up this type of stuff online is so easy (here & coffee geeks for a starter) you probably will not have to unlearn so many bad habits picked up trying to get around the limitations of your earlier equipment.
Last tip for this post: I don't know why, however I assumed you are using either quality filtered water or rainwater in Bendigo. I hope I am correct. The industrial flouride in WA tap water is so corrosive (Hydrofluoric acid attacks gold) it will literally tear the guts out of any machine here. One friend moved over from Mt Beauty in Vic with a perfectly good 5 yo 6910 which had only been fed the local rainwater. Three months of Perth tap water took it from functional to catastrophe. Also, a chain here managed to screw up over 20 La Marzocco's in around three months. Perth tap water also varies the pressure in a 6910 markedly. I went to a cafe and could actually hear the pressure shifting around. You have been warned, hopefully unnecessarily.
Thanks very much for the time you are putting in here. Yes, I am on Reverse Osmosis water - since I got the machine that is all that has been in it. I don't have recent experience with Perth water but back it the 70's it was shite - I even preferred Emu Bitter to it. *ducks thems who like what they called beer in 1978*)
More soon when I take apart the (to most) offending machine.
The wife and I were talking about a road trip - they do us good so we try to get out every so often but it has been MONTHS. Jokingly I suggested we could go to Adelaide for a break, get some fresh crays & pick up a parts 6910 from DrSmurto (think that's his handle here) We went to Adelaide... 637km. Not cray season so we got some tuna and a nice looking marinara mix. Stayed at a lovely place (Old Quality Hotel in North Adelaide) and picked up the 6910 on the way home. I figured it would be handy to have the aprts BEFORE I risk going coffeeless...
So, let's see if I have all this right.
I may find out the spare parts machine has a different collar to mine, or I might find the brand new collar I have is different - and I probably don't need a new collar anyway. I was going to post a pic of the new collar but that seems pointless as I don't know, & can't see without pulling the machine apart, which one I actually have in my machine.
My current filter baskets are 45mm across the holes - about 5mm blank metal surround. This sounds like old style? Round holes also.
Coffeeparts has VST baskets for around $35. Are there varieties of VST's or are they simply one type? I don't want to get the wrong one. I like double shots so a 16g or 18g basket should give me more than enough flavour?
EDIT: Reason for asking is a title such as Filter Basket, 58mm Group VST Precision Double 18g Ridgeless - do I take this as meaning VST make a double floor filter? Or that it's an 18gm double shot filter? I'd have thought the 18g by itself would tell size of shot.
With 2 x PF's I don't need to look around for a naked and I have hole saws so I should be able to drill myself one.
My next step is probably to visit Coffeeparts on Wed in Melb, and to take apart the spare parts machine to make sure I know what I am doing before I tackles me gooderer one. I was going to add in a spacer above the seal but figured after reading the above that should wait until after I take it apart and reseat everything. I might be correcting something that will be corrected in the service I do.
You mention calibrating pressure - how did you go about that? I already changed the steam timer setting (dryer seemed to give me better milk) and raised the water temp to give better aroma. Do you have to have tools for calibration?
Have you had any experience with taking apart steam units? The spare parts machine has non-functioning steam - I figured I would pull it down and see what I can see but if there are any tips/tricks...?
Last edited by Journeyman; 26th August 2013 at 02:39 PM.
Some progress at last: My cautionary tale was posted out of my written order as #134. It should answer most of your other questions.
Tamping - after reading about naked and tamping issues I found a way to get about as even as I can be without using a naked PF to check. I've always tamped to the weight I wanted then twisted the tamp about half a turn. On looking at the results I found I often had a slope on the puck. Now I know all you experienced caffeinators will snigger and point at me, but I have discovered that if I press down to the required weight, then release and THEN turn the tamp, I get a lovely even surface, nicely polished from the turn and a better pour. It seems it was the turning under pressure that was making my tamps uneven.
You have discovered one of the common tamping stuff-ups. It is called "tearing the top of the puck" in most articles. One of the things I love about my Pullman 316 Barista is that a precision fit tamper actually spins freely with no weight at all on it, so it polishes cleanly without tearing. About 5 of my 50+ tampers can do that... FWIW, I would suggest you get the VST's from Pullman with a flat 316 Barista Tamper to match. Given your attitude & level of persistence, you will never regret it... until you have to use something else!
VST: I have already covered this. They are all standard 55mm, so they fit. Ridgeless make better coffee in 6910's. 7g (single) only available in ridged (damn, damn, damn). A naked / VST 15g double would be more than strong enough until you lose your P-plates, then a 7g should do it (unless you like the flavour to attack, or you are a smoker - comes with a 10 times higher taste threshold).
Calibration: I know it is possible to get p/f's with temp and / or pressure gauges. I am lucky: my friendly engineering company specialises in stainless (as commented, literally a wall full of 316 rods & sheets plus another few walls of other stainless grades, some of which I had never heard of). They have more specialised gauges than the average place, so I use theirs.
The following tip can usually improve the coffee, even with those awful standard baskets and a standard p/f. Will work miracles to fast track the agony of a naked / VST combo setup. This will also help you to calibrate your grinder, as it may be way off.
Tip: Get your friendly local coffee shop to sell you some (enough for two coffees) of the ground coffee they use in their espresso machine and "rough calibrate" your machine as follows:-
Dosing: When lightly tamped once only (flat tamper) & then lightly polished it should just touch the showerscreen with a faint imprint. That means it should have well over a mm of clearance when you tamp the next one normally. VST's hate being overdosed on 6910's, they need room to breathe.
Time the shot, while watching the gauge. The shot should speed up as it runs. The gauge will probably drop a bit during the shot, while it will blond early (at around the 20 sec mark if it is close).
Probably not worth trying to drink it, however it will give you the info you need to (a) calibrate your grinder more precisely and (b) work out where your gauge is "near correct" (it will normally run at higher pressure than this shot).
After this, do a normal tamp with the same dose with the second lot of coffee & see what happens.
You should be able to get a lot closer to correct after that.
Tip2: Make a long black with your 480 / 450. If it has oily bubbles on the top, the burrs are out of adjustment and/or need replacing. FWIW, it means the grind is inconsistent in particle size.
Please let me know how you get on.
Will do. (on letting you know - I figure my learning curve on here might help others so I've tried to keep it up to date)
I time my shots now, with a 'oe one thousand, tow one thousand...' etc. Reason being the inconsistency I have had in pulling 2 identical shots one after the other. (i.e. same conditions, close to same tamp pressure etc.) Your comments re the filters makes a lot of sense given what i have been experiencing. I watch the gauge and have already worked out my ideal for a macchiato is at the top of the 'good' range, a bit past 12. The supposed ideal at 11 is where I try for to get a good lungo shot.
I've been 'feeling up' my grounds on a regular basis to try to ensure I have the same grind - I found the grittiness of the grind is a fairly reliable indicator for when I have to click the grinder down a notch.
I seem to have a better run with my new batch of coffee as far as leaks - it is most annoying to do a shot and have water leak into the cup and then take the grind out a notch and have the pressure below the good zone and get 60ml in about 10 seconds. This coffee seems more consistent and I haven't had any leaks for several days.
I put it down to the coffee as I haven't changed anything else. I tried the new batch until the grind put me just above the good zone and gave me 60ml in about 30 secs, then clicked the grinder out 1 spot - it's been there since and still doing nicely.
Tamping seems to me to be fine adjustment - a hard tamp as opposed to a soft tamp will move the gauge maybe a few mm up, but a change in grind setting can mean the difference between drops coming out and a smooth flow.
At least at home I can change the grind - at the bar I worked I wasn't allowed to so i had to try and use tamp pressure to adjust the quality of pour.
Gotta laugh... I just posted on a '6910 screaming' thread about what I did to fix my milk issues when I got my machine. I just ran a full clean on it (descale, backflush, screens etc.) and halfway through running the descale through the steam wand I got a phone call. I left it running while I answered the phone, and I was heading back to the machine when there was a fairly large hiccup in the steam flow, a couple of sputters, and the steam sound jumped significantly.
When I looked in the container I had under the wand, the water was quite dark - I think the regular cleaning has finally shifted something in the steam path.
I just made a coffee and the performance has changed radically, even though I thought it OK before. More pressure and much faster to reach microfoam - I had trouble stopping it making lotsa bubbles. I think I will take the machine back to factory settings and see how it is now.
And I might try something similar on the spare parts machine to see what gives... depends if steam works at all on it - I haven't started it up yet.
Sunbeam EM6910 Screaming / Too Much Air In Milk
Reason: If over half a dozen friends have this issue then so do a lot of CS people.
Last edited by Javaphile; 31st August 2013 at 08:39 AM. Reason: Link edited in
I've been trying the tamping method - not sure but it seems to have ironed out (pun intended) the dosing issues a bit. The pressure has been smack in the middle of the green for 3 days now where before 2 consecutive coffees would give me one in the yellow and one just above the green.
Haven't had time to pull my machine apart just yet - weather has been great and the missus keeps finding stuff for me to do. and yesterday I had a mysterious fish death in my aquaponics so I spent several hours trying to work out why...
I am now happily in possession of a naked PF - I tried to drill out my spare with a hole saw but without proper tools I was having issues. So, via a pub connection, my PF went off and got lathed and now is back home. Have some things to learn about it but even the first coffee seemed to have a better flavour range. Not huge but noticeable. One thing I want to know is what a properly packed basket runs like. When i look at my SB basket, I see I am getting coffee almost all across the basket, but they tend to run together into a central stream and one to two streams off to the sides.
Is it normal for the coffee to gather into a main stream or should I be seeing many streams from all around the hole area?
Yesterday I got my VST filters from Mark, the new Pullman owner. I eagerly awaited my package from Things Coffee | Pullman Tamper, Coffee Tamper, VST Filter Basket, VST Refractometer, Hottop, Coffee Roaster, KN-8828B-2 with 15g and 22g VST baskets. When I got home I tried them in the PF to make sure they would fit. With the straight sides they are easy to tamp using a method I learned from TampIt and using the 22g basket, the first coffee was again a step up in richness of flavour.
Following advice from TampIt, today I clicked a step finer on the grinder (he said do 2 and see how it goes but my current grind was already pushing the gauge a little above the top of the 'good' area so I did one) and used the 15g and TampIt's tamp method. YUMMY coffee! Rich flavour, strong but not bitter at all, nice thick crema.
I did note that this time I had maybe 20 streams of coffee at the very beginning from all over the bottom of the basket, but then very quickly it became one main stream with a couple of drops from various places around the mesh area. Is that normal or do I still need to work on my tamping?
I reckon there is a fair few youtube videos that talk about using naked PFs to work out tamping issues
That's likely - I will take a look. Not a fan of youtube so it doesn't tend to be where I look for info. Thanks for the reminder that it isn't just all dickheads showing us why condoms were invented.
I'm 3 days into my new set up for making coffee and very pleased - it is yummy, it is simple to do and clean and it is repeatable. I'm 3 days in on the following process with all the improvements in place. I finally have the consistency I've been wanting in extraction, pour time and taste that I've been trying for.
Here is the history for anyone interested...
First, IMO I have found the grind has significant difference in quality of extraction/pressure through the grouphead, and tamp pressure is fine adjustment. I can go from good coffee to too fast or slow pour with a click on the grinder, but I can't change a too fine or too coarse into a good pour using only the tamping. So, for example, a click on the grinder can take the pressure gauge during extraction from middle of the good section to several mm's above it. An over-tamp will move the same coffee grind maybe 2 or 3 mm on the gauge, not more than a cm.
I use a EM0480 so keep in mind it is notorious for variability in grind unless worked on. I've half-done changes on mine. (see earlier in this thread) Also it is doserless so this might be more difficult to do on a doser machine.
came when I stopped polishing under pressure. I was putting in my 15kg (approx) of pressure and turning the tamp while under pressure. Half the time or more I would get uneven pucks. When the light went on I tamped it as normal but then released the pressure and THEN polished. Suddenly very few pucks were uneven.
was to grind a bit and tap, grind some more and tap, keeping the grounds level as I filled the basket, then tamp as above. Better extraction, better crema and taste.
a guy on here named TampIt suggested this. Note my machine is a EM6910 so this might not be applicable to other machines, although given the reasoning behind it, I don't see why it wouldn't help. The process is to fill a little and tamp about 5lbs (2.3kg). Fill a bit more and tamp again at 5lbs (2.3kg). Fill a bit more and tamp a bit harder, (say 7lbs / 3kg) then top up to just above desired final level and tamp/polish. (again at about 7lbs / 3kg).
The 'just above desired level' is because if you do this method there is bugger-all compression by the time you get to the last tamp. This method gives me the best coffee so far although the first tamp is a more than 1/4 because the SB double baskets are tapered below the halfway point - the tamper will not go in there.
got a local guy to use a lathe to convert my spare PF to naked. Strange results apart from better crema and being able to check the shot... coffee before I got some drops past the seal - it happens every so often with the 6910, mainly if I grind too fine or overfill. Haven't had a drop come through since - no idea the logic of why. Also much easier cleaning - run under water, plastic brush of inside and underside and all clean with all holes unblocked. Don't even have to remove the basket from the PF.
VST baskets. I got mine from CS sponsor Mark at Things Coffee (or Pullman - he bought it from Greg) and they have straight sides - the first tamp is just fine with 1/4 dose. My coffee now has a richness of flavour I didn't really know was missing. Cleaning is even easier - VST's are better made so very few holes need the scrub after a pour.
Refer back in this thread - when I left the cleaner running through the steam wand longer than normal it suddenly cleared something (dirty brown water in container) and the pressure of steam increased noticeably - by sound and volume (cloud effect) Since then I have had to relearn how to texture effectively. And the complete texturing takes about 30 secs or so, as compared to maybe 1 minute before this.
I tried the nutating tamp method this morning, (there's also a Staub method which is similar) on the final tamp. Not sure there was much change - since getting naked the first couple of extractions had a main centre stream and one or two dripping streams to the sides. When I swapped to the VST I noticed on initiation of pour I get a quick 'shower' of dribbles all around the filter and it quickly becomes one centre stream. It is clear from the underside of the basket the coffee is coming through all over but amalgamating into a centre stream - not sure why as the bottom of the basket seems flat. Maybe surface tension brings it all together until there is enough to break the effect?
For other Sunbeam owners at least, the VST's are well worth the money. $33 each from Things Coffee/Pullman (sponsor) may seem a lot but the difference in coffee is noticeable.
Last edited by Javaphile; 17th September 2013 at 05:54 AM. Reason: Edited to correct tamping pressure in: 3rd improvement
There is probably a PhD thesis about it somewhere.
I thought it might be something like that MrJack. I must admit, when I first heard about naked PF's and being able to check on the quality in the basket, I kinda pictured many little streams coming evenly from all across the mesh area. Obviously hadn't thought it through.
So far my stream comes from the centre although when I was using the original SB baskets with the naked PF, I did get some streams off to the side as well as the centre. With the VST's it is single stream - I think maybe the straight sides help make a more even puck.
Now it goes alomost perfectly, except I have not lined up the steam and water wands to line up with the off position, after pulling it apart to see how it worked and fix the blocked thermoblock fault.
I have not real all the thread yet.
But a question:
Are you guys suggesting I should cut the bottom out of the basket holder (if that is the right description)
The holder that holds the various baskets.
Which tehn means there are not spouts on the bottom.
If you do that what happens if you are trying to make two cups at once?
Last edited by rawill; 16th September 2013 at 12:52 PM.
Yes, that's a naked PF. (cup holder = PortaFilter) Approx 50mm hole in the bottom of it. Why I thought I was doing it was to be able to check my tamping/dose consistency, but what I found was it seems also changes the pressure profile of the pour - still don't have my head around HOW it does that.
The only answer about the 2 cups is you don't. If you want to be able to do that you need another PF that isn't naked. I was fortunate enough to pick up some pieces that included a 2nd PF so one goes naked and I have the other if I want to do 2 at once. You might try a PM to TampIt - I think he has a few of them for the 6910 and he may sell you one. I think they are about $80 new.