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Thread: Please be so kind as to criticise my shots... :)

  1. #1
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    Please be so kind as to criticise my shots... :)

    I don't seem to be winning with this transition from "flat white with one" to espresso shots.

    I've decided I'll try book in a one-on-one with a sponsor in the new year, but will keep trying to improve between now and then.

    I know the proof is in the taste, and that doesn't come through videos (yet), but if any snobs have suggestions on what I'm doing, and the results that I'm getting, I'm all ears.

    Beans:
    Have gone from Lavazza Qualita Oro, to two different types of beans from a local roaster (3 week post-roast from Capra Coffee), to now using Espresso WOW from Andy (5 days old now). At least I know I can't blame the beans anymore.

    Equipment:
    Baratza 270W and Breville dual boiler. Dont think I can blame these either...

    Grind:
    21 grams into the standard breville basket, tamped firmly resulting in a slightly lower level than the included razor tool suggests. The grinds do still expand to leave a gentle shower screen imprint at the end, so I dont really want to put in any more.

    Shot volume:
    The breville is set to volumetric (which is a wildly inconsistent 40-60mls), not timed shots. I've tuned the coarseness of the grind to give a 40g of coffee in 30 sec (so a little less than 2:1, but it varies a few grams either way).

    Anyway, here is the video, feel free to help identify or suggest anything I might be doing wrong!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAcOtfRlZpI

    It might just be that my tastebuds prefer flat whites to espresso, and the shots are OK. But the concerning thing is that my wife (who has sharp taste buds, but not much coffee making experience) wants us to go back to the old EM6910 with supermarket Lavazza beans!!!

    Cheers,
    Timbo

  2. #2
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    That all makes sense, but you havenít actually told us what the problem is (other than your wife wants to go back to using the Sunbeam). The shot looks perfectly fine to me, but if itís not tasting the best the only thing I can suggest is that itís underextracted a little and is a bit sour. If thatís the case the simplest thing to try would be to run the shot a bit longer. Do exactly the same, but use the manual button and go closer to 40g yield. You could also try to grind a bit finer at the very least. (You could also try lowering the dose, but Iíd just go with a finer grind first to achieve maybe a 35sec shot). Another thing that could be adjusted is the brew temp. Whatís it on now? Try going up or down 1-2deg. Other than that all I can suggest is that your wife got used to the 6910 and hasnít adjusted to the new machine yet.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    Grind finer and tamp lighter but consistently. Pull a couple of blank shots first to make sure everything is up to temp.

    Only change one thing at a time or you dont know the effect of your changes.

    Stick with Andy's beans. 5 days is a good start they should be ok past 14 days post roast.

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    Yeah, sorry LeroyC, I see your point

    The problem I am having is that buying a great espresso while I'm out can be quite flavoursome (pineapples, fruity, a bit sweet and lingering creaminess etc), with no "yeearch" taste to it. But a bad one (and all mine so-far fall into this category) just taste like uninteresting coffee (at best), and a real "yeearch" followed by tipping down the sink (at worst). There is no sweetness or flavour. The good news is that 200mls of milk can fix anything...

    So I know that I am doing something wrong, but unfortunately my taste buds aren't good enough to differentiate overextracted/bitter from underextracted/sour, just that something is not right.

    I've tried to blatantly overextract and underextract to teach myself, and yes they taste terrible at the extremes but I cant tell (just from taste) which extreme it is, only that it is "yeearch". I'm hoping that some training in the new year might help me differentiate over from under extraction via taste, because I am only working on visuals right now (thickness of pour, time of extraction, etc).

    There are still some visuals that I'm not sure about, and I thought someone more experienced may pickup things from the video (the colour of pour, the blonding point, the grind consistancy, the level of crema, how quickly it settles, etc)

    But if you think that nothing looks majorly wrong, then it must just be a case of getting the finer adjustments right, and I'll keep tweaking.

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    Hi Trentski,

    Thanks for the tips, will give it a go. I felt that tamping pressure didn't seem to affect much (assuming the grind and tamp level were the same), so I assumed that a finer grind would start to choke (even with a lighter tamp).

    If I grind finer and tamp lighter, I assume I would need to dose less to get the same puck height?

  6. #6
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    To be honest itís a little hard to tell without knowing the coffee youíre using. Some of the best espressos Iíve had have been from 20sec extractions and some of them have been from 45sec extractions. Generally it should be pretty easy to tell if itís overextracted as itíll be bitter. Most people know bitter when they taste it, as itís ashy or burnt. But when they taste sour (especially in coffee) they get confused as itís also unpleasant and they often describe it as bitter, but itís actually sour. So if youíre not really sure then my guess is that itís sour tasting which indicates underextraction and slowing the shot down should help. As weíve both said above keep everything else the same for now, but grind finer and aim for a similar yield in 35secs.

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    Yeah, you absolutely hit the nail on the head. I can tell when it is unpleasant, but I can't determine for sure if it's a sour coffee taste or bitter coffee taste. Which is strange... because I can certainly taste the different between lemon juice and a cup of cocoa, haha!

    I do feel that a deliberately over-extracted espresso seems to to hit the back of my tongue (I literally cannot drink any more and have to pour it out), but a deliberately under-extracted espresso sits at the front of my tongue (and is unpleasant, but I feel that I could drink it if needed). But then after a few different shots, my mouth just starts to get confused and I can't tell what is going on. having said that, how do professional tasters prevent the previous tastes from masking those they are currently sampling? And how do they manage to sample many successive espresso's without going into caffeine overload?

    Regardless, it's good to know that there is nothing obviously wrong in the process I'm following. So it's now just a case of teaching myself the taste spectrum, so I'm not flying blind.

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    And I certainly appreciate and am taking on board the suggestions... am only changing the grind at the moment (brew temp is left at 93deg, dose is left at 21g, tamp height kept consistent, volume is set to around 50mls (relying on the breville volumetric function, which isn't great), and this give between 35-45gms of coffee out. It's amazing how much difference the fine settings make to extraction time on the baratza. I can go from watery gush to choking, using only the fine setting and leaving the coarse setting permanently at 9!

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    I do feel that did get me somewhere... at 32-33sec extraction I *thought* it was starting to taste bitter, but just another increment on the fine settings bumped it to 35secs, and it did tasted smoother and less objectionable (although I still didn't get many flavours).

    But a good step nonetheless
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  10. #10
    Life-long Learner DesigningByCoffee's Avatar
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    Keep it up - tasting and testing

  11. #11
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Regarding the Breville volumetric setting, it is set to deliver a certain amount of water to the puck. How much comes out depends on the puck, the finer the coffee and larger the dose the less comes out, the coarser and lower the dose the more comes out. I find mine to be rather consistent when I am consistent in grind, dosing, distribution and tamping.

    Just another thought, are you keeping the level of beans in the hopper consistent between shots? The weight pushing down on the beans will change the fineness of the grind that comes out for a particular setting on the grinder.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Yeah nice work youíre doing all the right stuff. Moving and making changes a little at a time is the way to go. You might find that this blend doesnít have really strong noticeable flavours as it might be designed to be a bit of an all rounder. If you want really noticeable sweetness or acidity youíll possibly need to try a single origin.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    Regarding the Breville volumetric setting, it is set to deliver a certain amount of water to the puck. How much comes out depends on the puck, the finer the coffee and larger the dose the less comes out, the coarser and lower the dose the more comes out. I find mine to be rather consistent when I am consistent in grind, dosing, distribution and tamping.

    Just another thought, are you keeping the level of beans in the hopper consistent between shots? The weight pushing down on the beans will change the fineness of the grind that comes out for a particular setting on the grinder.
    I would agree with that. But say for mine. Every second shot is around 20mls and the others 55mls. Itís consistently these two numbers.

    Beans are weighed and tamped with same pressure so unsure if just a faulty machine.

  14. #14
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    That's weird.
    I saw you were using the single shot button in your video. I have literally never used that button except for accessing the other menu and descaling. Do you only ever use the single shot button?

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    L3ninja, you are correct about the volumetric setting. It was fluctuating by 40-50% when I was changing things around, which made it really hard. Now that I'm making only minor changes, it's down to roughly 10%. Rusty, it certainly sounds like something is up with your machine.

    Quote Originally Posted by level3ninja View Post
    That's weird.
    I saw you were using the single shot button in your video. I have literally never used that button except for accessing the other menu and descaling. Do you only ever use the single shot button?
    I only ever use the double basket, so only have one espresso in my repertoire. I began using/adjusting the volume on the single shot button to suit that and didn't actually notice how counter intuitive that is, but now you mention it....

    You might find that this blend doesn’t have really strong noticeable flavours as it might be designed to be a bit of an all rounder. If you want really noticeable sweetness or acidity you’ll possibly need to try a single origin.


    Righto. you could say I have a lot to learn! I just assumed that this particular blend (generally discussed as a brilliant all rounder) would be full of flavour, and maybe it is. But will try some SO as well.

    I guess I should begin reading between the lines in bean descriptions. and 'all rounder' might mean 'dont expect flavour', just like what a real estate agent really means by 'has potential'. (of course, I'm not specifically referring to the Espresso Wow blend... every issue here is related to my incompetence only...)

  16. #16
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    Shot looks pretty good to me, I would slow it down and cut it a little earlier (less blonding) but that is just my general preference in taste. I can easily stomach and enjoy a chocked shot but find a quick one yucky.

    Keep more beans in the hopper and consistent. Start brewing as soon as you have locked in the PF (you still have time to position glass etc). Do less jiggling/tapping erc with the PF while dosing. It can affect the distribution of fines in the PF and if your aren't doing a consist jiggle/tap it could introduce another variable.

    Change one thing at a time only.

    And out of curiosity, why aren't you dosing straight into the PF?

    The other thing you could get is a deeper basket. I usually do 21g and only get around 30 out (usually less) and that's how I like the shots.

    You have the basics there, just keep it tweaking until you get closer to what you prefer the taste of.

    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by artman View Post
    Shot looks pretty good to me, I would slow it down and cut it a little earlier (less blonding) but that is just my general preference in taste. I can easily stomach and enjoy a chocked shot but find a quick one yucky.

    Keep more beans in the hopper and consistent. Start brewing as soon as you have locked in the PF (you still have time to position glass etc). Do less jiggling/tapping erc with the PF while dosing. It can affect the distribution of fines in the PF and if your aren't doing a consist jiggle/tap it could introduce another variable.

    Change one thing at a time only.

    And out of curiosity, why aren't you dosing straight into the PF?

    The other thing you could get is a deeper basket. I usually do 21g and only get around 30 out (usually less) and that's how I like the shots.

    You have the basics there, just keep it tweaking until you get closer to what you prefer the taste of.

    Cheers
    Thanks Artman.

    I didn't realise that a consistent bean level in the hopper would make a difference, but there is no harm in adding another consistency.

    I can certainly explain my PF logic, but it doesn't mean it's correct One gripe I have with the 270W is that a typical ~20g grind is so fluffy that when dosed directly into a PF will pile right up into the shute. Yes you can get the PF out without loosing a significant amount of coffee, but it makes a hell of a mess every time. I have tried pausing halfway and settling but it never resumes reliably. So as annoying as it is, i tend use the grind bin just to keep things clean, but I can probably try two seperate 10g grinds. I tend to tap on the bench while dosing from the grind bin for the same reason (ie: avoiding overflow spillage of grinds). I actually though that tapping the PF to settle grinds before tamping would kinda level the grind and give a more even distribution, but I may have this wrong. I don't tap post tamping.

    Anyway, all good ideas, and I am trying everything.

    Quick question, is it normal for espresso to taste completely different from the first sip all the way to the last? I find that the first sip never has much taste, but it does get better towards the end. This is a bit of a problem for me, because I cant just have a quick sip to taste, make changes and try again... If I have to drink the whole double shot to check flavours, and have 10 fails, I'll have a guaranteed heart attack by the end of it!
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  18. #18
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Well the Sette is supposed to be able to single dose with virtually zero retention so you should be able to have an empty hopper before and after, but Iím not sure how good it is at this. Certainly half filling the hopper and making a few espressos would be worth a try to see if it makes any difference.
    The reason espresso tastes different at the beginning is due to the crema layer. If you want to standardise it a little at the very least give it a good stir before trying it. Alternatively scoop the crema off altogether as the crema itself doesnít actually taste very nice.
    Have you had a look at the Barista Hustle website? Thereís lots of resources out there about espresso, but Barista Hustle is one of my favourites as itís somewhat technical, but still fairly easy to understand and is well worth a look if you want to really understand espresso extraction.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeroyC View Post
    Well the Sette is supposed to be able to single dose with virtually zero retention so you should be able to have an empty hopper before and after, but I’m not sure how good it is at this.
    It is pretty good in that respect, and amazingly fast!

    I can certainly try to measure the beans going in, although if I go down that path, it will make me incredibly sad knowing how much I blew on a weight based grinder for no benefit, haha.

    I hear what you say about the crema... it isn't a nice taste at all. And now you mention it, I do remember that one of the nicer espresso's I've had was at a cafe nearby and had no crema at all. At the time I thought it a bit strange, but maybe they stirred it/removed it for me.

    The barista hustle site looks great, and it's in the format/language that I like to learn in. I'll keep going with the theory, but I still know that I have most to learn/gain in the actual tasting...

  20. #20
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timbosaurus View Post
    Thanks Artman.

    I didn't realise that a consistent bean level in the hopper would make a difference, but there is no harm in adding another consistency.

    I can certainly explain my PF logic, but it doesn't mean it's correct One gripe I have with the 270W is that a typical ~20g grind is so fluffy that when dosed directly into a PF will pile right up into the shute. Yes you can get the PF out without loosing a significant amount of coffee, but it makes a hell of a mess every time. I have tried pausing halfway and settling but it never resumes reliably. So as annoying as it is, i tend use the grind bin just to keep things clean, but I can probably try two seperate 10g grinds. I tend to tap on the bench while dosing from the grind bin for the same reason (ie: avoiding overflow spillage of grinds). I actually though that tapping the PF to settle grinds before tamping would kinda level the grind and give a more even distribution, but I may have this wrong. I don't tap post tamping.

    Anyway, all good ideas, and I am trying everything.

    Quick question, is it normal for espresso to taste completely different from the first sip all the way to the last? I find that the first sip never has much taste, but it does get better towards the end. This is a bit of a problem for me, because I cant just have a quick sip to taste, make changes and try again... If I have to drink the whole double shot to check flavours, and have 10 fails, I'll have a guaranteed heart attack by the end of it!
    Been following this thread, yeah it looks like you're getting the hang of the basics and going well. Great attitude too in learning! It's all about learning, but trial and error is key to that for sure.

    Changing one variable at a time is the way to go. I've made the mistake of changing too many things at once and not really knowing what contributed to what!

    Definitely worth keeping hopper levels fairly consistent. Many have varied experiences with keeping hopper a little full vs single dosing, so it's up to you which works best with YOUR particular setup.

    Yeah watching the video it's looking good, seconded artman's comment as to slowing the flow a little and cutting a little earlier, but yeah worth experimenting to see what suits your taste.

    But yeah collapsing too much I reckon can actually create cracks. I don't have proof for this haha, but a couple of collapses to me seem fine, but when excessively done I think it can initially settle the grounds, but once they're fully settled and can't possibly settle anymore, I reckon it can jar it a bit and potentially put cracks through the puck. Like I said, not 100% sure on this, but it's best to do it consistently anyways. E.g. two collapses at half-2/3 dose point, two collapses at end of dosing.

    It's moreso for consistency's sake too. Would be hard to repeat the dosing from the bin the exact amount and settling (unless weighing each time). Maybe even try dosing into the basket all around it evenly rather than piling into the centre. So tilting the portafilter around as it's grinding in can avoid it overfilling and spilling. I still sometimes spill a few specks here and there with my grinder but not that much. But I guess if it comes out really fluffy it may be different.

    And yeah as to espresso tasting different as you sip, I reckon this is definitely the case. It's why in a lot of barista comps, the barista will say to the judges "In the first sip, you'll taste _____... in the second sip there should be _____... ". Whether it's related to temperature or the different settling layering of the espresso I'm not sure. But like Leroy said, stirring the espresso can combine everything together better (also seen in barista comps too as an instruction). I know I definitely enjoy an espresso far more as it cools down a bit.

    Ultimately let taste be your guide, but yeah keep it up Timbosaurus, definitely on the right track
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    Thanks man. From that, I think a couple of tools might help develop my learning.

    I do agree that a bit less runny would look more like I expect to see (and maybe taste). I have found that if I go any finer it chokes, so maybe I do have issues with channeling or something. I actually have no idea on how even the extraction actually is, and given a few of you have already mentioned that the tapping could be causing inconsistencies, I might look into a naked PF. I have been looking at the puck for holes, but I don't really know what I'm looking for, so bit pointless really, haha. Anyway, I've also been wanting to get a naked PF from breville since I bought the machine, but they seem to be eternally out of stock. I might give them a call.

    And if I can get one of those funnel looking things for dosing the portafilter, I can probably dose in one hit with spilling. I do have reservations though, because if they were so good, you'd think you'd see them around more.

  22. #22
    Senior Member rusty888's Avatar
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    Breville wonít have them in stock. A lot of breville agents can order them in. I got mine from Pullman espresso just recently

  23. #23
    Senior Member artman's Avatar
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    I have the sette and have one button set to 16g and another for 5g.

    I dose 16, remove PF and tap down on tamping mat once or twice to settle (ie don't do too much with it) then dose 5, remove and tap again. Flatten, temp lock in and pour.

    Very rarely it stops just after starting during the 5g dose but second time round it's fine. And this only seems to happen if PF is seated securely and moves a bit during the initial starting kick and this must upset the grind weighing and hence it stops.

    Cheers

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    Cool, I tried the two separate dose trick, and it does work OK. It's a shame they didn't simply make a slightly lower holder. A 5mm drop is all it would take. I will still have to adjust the upper rest though, because if the PF slips at all during a grind, it's all over.

    And for some reason I don't seem to be able to use the "pause" feature to settle. I thought I'd be able to pause halfway through, remove the PF to settle, then re-insert and press "play" again. But it always resumes for a couple of grams and stops, as if it doesn't like the PF being removed while paused..

  25. #25
    Senior Member CafeLotta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timbosaurus View Post
    Beans: Have gone from Lavazza Qualita Oro, to two different types of beans from a local roaster (3 week post-roast from Capra Coffee), to now using Espresso WOW from Andy (5 days old now). At least I know I can't blame the beans anymore.
    As much as I hate to admit it, we tried the Lavazza beans from the supermarket after running out of fresh roasted on a few occasions. We had tried other "supermarket brands" in the past which we never bought again.

    The trick with the Lavazza for us was to open the bags 2-4 days before use and to get some fresh air through them by pouring between containers slowly.

    To prolong shelf life after roasting, Lavazza flush air out with nitrogen when packaging for transport and sale. https://www.seattlecoffeegear.com/bl...lushed-coffee/

    Straight out of the bag we found the Lavazza rather unpleasant to drink. After introducing the beans to oxygen again and waiting a couple/few days the results are quite different!

    Personal Lavazza favorite is Perfetto Espresso when we've run out of fresh beans. Originally in the blue bag but last lot was in brown and green with same name on it.

  26. #26
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timbosaurus View Post
    It is pretty good in that respect, and amazingly fast!

    I can certainly try to measure the beans going in, although if I go down that path, it will make me incredibly sad knowing how much I blew on a weight based grinder for no benefit, haha...
    I didnít actually mean you should do this, I just meant that I wasnít sure if having a nice full (or half full) hopper all the time would help. It might, but I think thereís probably more gains to be had elsewhere.

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    Yeah, no worries. I have been doing the 2 x 10.5g doses to save using the bin, and I might try a 16+5 combo.

    Thanks again to everyone taking the time for suggestions, it's been really helpful.

    I think I've got the theory and process much better now, it's just a matter of tasting testing tasting until my tongue come up to scratch and I can become a snob.

    I might also look more towards taste training rather than barista training (although I know the two aren't mutually exclusive).
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  28. #28
    Senior Member Erimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post
    As much as I hate to admit it, we tried the Lavazza beans from the supermarket after running out of fresh roasted on a few occasions. We had tried other "supermarket brands" in the past which we never bought again.

    The trick with the Lavazza for us was to open the bags 2-4 days before use and to get some fresh air through them by pouring between containers slowly.

    To prolong shelf life after roasting, Lavazza flush air out with nitrogen when packaging for transport and sale. https://www.seattlecoffeegear.com/bl...lushed-coffee/

    Straight out of the bag we found the Lavazza rather unpleasant to drink. After introducing the beans to oxygen again and waiting a couple/few days the results are quite different!

    Personal Lavazza favorite is Perfetto Espresso when we've run out of fresh beans. Originally in the blue bag but last lot was in brown and green with same name on it.
    Going through your rigmarole seems rather unnecessary as nitrogen is an inert gas and once opened that's it, its gone. I've used Lavazza on occasion and was pleasantly surprised and certainly no unpleasant taste.

  29. #29
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CafeLotta View Post

    The trick with the Lavazza for us was to open the bags 2-4 days before use and to get some fresh air through them by pouring between containers slowly.
    Seriously! the stuff ain't stale enough when you buy it?

    The amount of misinformation being expounded on Coffee Snobs recently is concerning.

    As if the stuff isn't stale enough right of the shelf! the method you describe will turn it into compost material, and has nothing to do with making a good cup of coffee from fresh well roasted quality beans.

    If you enjoy dead stale Lavazza coffee, this process will do it for you.

    thought I'd heard everything.
    Last edited by Yelta; 29th December 2017 at 11:26 AM.
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    ouch.

    When my coffee tastes crap, I can't really tell whether it's an issue with beans or with process (although I'm noticing a lack of caramel colours in the pour of stale beans), but I've certainly had lots of lovely milk based drinks with the lavazza beans with my inept taste buds. We have tried some of the cheaper supermarket beans and they always been horrible, even with sugar, milk and my tongue, so the Lavazza must be the better of a bad bunch.

    But now I'm trying to make nice coffee without sugar and milk, so I'll use the best equipment/beans that I can afford, and then any issues are down to me

    I'm back to asking for advice... sometimes a pour starts around 9-9.5 bar, thickness seemed *fairly* consistent through the pour, and only drops half a bar of brew pressure over the shot. But sometimes it starts the same, but gets watery quick, and drops a couple of bar pressure over the shot. I'm assuming that this is channeling (is this just a different name for uneven extraction?), but I don't have a naked PF to assess it. Is that a fair assumption? Are there any other tricks that people use to look for it?

    Cheers,
    Timbo

  31. #31
    Senior Member WhatEverBeansNecessary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timbosaurus View Post
    ouch.

    When my coffee tastes crap, I can't really tell whether it's an issue with beans or with process (although I'm noticing a lack of caramel colours in the pour of stale beans), but I've certainly had lots of lovely milk based drinks with the lavazza beans with my inept taste buds. We have tried some of the cheaper supermarket beans and they always been horrible, even with sugar, milk and my tongue, so the Lavazza must be the better of a bad bunch.

    But now I'm trying to make nice coffee without sugar and milk, so I'll use the best equipment/beans that I can afford, and then any issues are down to me

    I'm back to asking for advice... sometimes a pour starts around 9-9.5 bar, thickness seemed *fairly* consistent through the pour, and only drops half a bar of brew pressure over the shot. But sometimes it starts the same, but gets watery quick, and drops a couple of bar pressure over the shot. I'm assuming that this is channeling (is this just a different name for uneven extraction?), but I don't have a naked PF to assess it. Is that a fair assumption? Are there any other tricks that people use to look for it?

    Cheers,
    Timbo
    Sounds like channeling. Channeling is perhaps a specific form of uneven extraction.

    Uneven extraction can be a multitude of things like a doughnut extraction, channeling, one sided extraction (coffee favors pouring from one side of the PF). Most common is probably channeling though.

    The best way to reduce all types is to make sure you distribute the coffee evenly and break up any clumps as best you can.

    Great shots come from repeatability - grind, dose, tamp, preinfuse, extraction etc all the same time after time and refining one thing as you go. Maybe try breaking up some clumps with a toothpick or something before tamping?
    Timbosaurus likes this.

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    So I think I'm getting somewhere... just slowly.

    I was noticing little cavity/depressions/sinkholes/whatever you might call them, in the top of the puck around the edges after most shots. I suspected this was channeling, but why? well, the supplied breville tamper/breville basket is nowhere near the tight fit that I recall from the sunbeam tamper/sunbeam basket on the 6910, but only half a mm on all sides so I didn't think much of it. But it seems that when I tamp around a bit (kinda in circles instead of centered), I don't get the sinkholes in the puck and the brew pressure is better maintained. Could this be a contributor to why some upgrade to a better basket/tamper combination on the breville?

    Also, the beans! While not affecting the mechanics of the shot much, I discovered that I can actually tell the difference in taste (sometimes)!

    I've tried several questionable quality beans too, but of the quality beans I got from beanbay, here is what I found...

    - Espresso Wow.
    Nice with milk, but couldn't identify any real flavours. Not sure if was purely my incompetence, or maybe because its a bit of an all rounder.

    - Tiana's Latte.
    Similar to Espresso Wow, but I did try this quite early in the piece. So maybe I missed something, or maybe it need more development.

    - Ethiopia Biftu Gesha.

    This was an amazing coffee. The fruity smell and taste (or was it floral, I don't know the difference?) of the beans and the coffee where unbeleivable. My espresso shot still needs work, but the flavour did still came through with milk. This was by far the closest that I have come to a drinkable shot.

    - Ethiopian Harrar Longberry.

    Similar in a few ways to the Biftu above, but not as pronounced/obvious. The aroma was significantly less fruity/floral, and that taste was somewhere else as well. Have only just started on this, so the jury is still out.

    - Sumatran Mandheling Select
    Yeah, not so sure about this one. Kinda had the fragrance of weed, or maybe a cigar. And the taste wasn't much different (is that what is called "earthy"?). Think I'll pass on this one.

    So I'm clearly going to give the Biftu Gesha a thumbs up, and I will also try to find a yirgacheffe, given that the fruity taste seemed to tickle my senses. Cant seem to find any in beanbay though, am I blind?

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timbosaurus View Post
    So I think I'm getting somewhere... just slowly.

    I was noticing little cavity/depressions/sinkholes/whatever you might call them, in the top of the puck around the edges after most shots. I suspected this was channeling, but why? well, the supplied breville tamper/breville basket is nowhere near the tight fit that I recall from the sunbeam tamper/sunbeam basket on the 6910, but only half a mm on all sides so I didn't think much of it. But it seems that when I tamp around a bit (kinda in circles instead of centered), I don't get the sinkholes in the puck and the brew pressure is better maintained. Could this be a contributor to why some upgrade to a better basket/tamper combination on the breville?

    Also, the beans! While not affecting the mechanics of the shot much, I discovered that I can actually tell the difference in taste (sometimes)!

    I've tried several questionable quality beans too, but of the quality beans I got from beanbay, here is what I found...

    - Espresso Wow.
    Nice with milk, but couldn't identify any real flavours. Not sure if was purely my incompetence, or maybe because its a bit of an all rounder.

    - Tiana's Latte.
    Similar to Espresso Wow, but I did try this quite early in the piece. So maybe I missed something, or maybe it need more development.

    - Ethiopia Biftu Gesha.

    This was an amazing coffee. The fruity smell and taste (or was it floral, I don't know the difference?) of the beans and the coffee where unbeleivable. My espresso shot still needs work, but the flavour did still came through with milk. This was by far the closest that I have come to a drinkable shot.

    - Ethiopian Harrar Longberry.

    Similar in a few ways to the Biftu above, but not as pronounced/obvious. The aroma was significantly less fruity/floral, and that taste was somewhere else as well. Have only just started on this, so the jury is still out.

    - Sumatran Mandheling Select
    Yeah, not so sure about this one. Kinda had the fragrance of weed, or maybe a cigar. And the taste wasn't much different (is that what is called "earthy"?). Think I'll pass on this one.

    So I'm clearly going to give the Biftu Gesha a thumbs up, and I will also try to find a yirgacheffe, given that the fruity taste seemed to tickle my senses. Cant seem to find any in beanbay though, am I blind?
    Yes, blind as a bat mate Under the big Coffee Snobs logo hit the bean bay button. Will link to a 'separate' page which is BeanBay.com.au

    Have a look at the notes for each of the coffees on BeanBay as they are all quite different. But in general the natural processed will be more fruity and the washed more choc/caramel (really big generalization though!)
    Harrar is more berry (typically) than the Biftu which is more stone fruit like peaches. Yirgacheff is very citrusy and lemon - which gets a great wrap here on CoffeeSnobs but personally I am not a fan in espresso.

    If you want something choc/caramel give the Columbian Volcan a go - that with the Biftu are my two favourite beans and always winners with guests.

    Seems like you are moving in the right direction though.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhatEverBeansNecessary View Post
    Yes, blind as a bat mate Under the big Coffee Snobs logo hit the bean bay button. Will link to a 'separate' page which is BeanBay.com.au
    Sorry, I was trying to ask if beanbay had any Yirgacheff. I can only find it in green form there (and roasting is well outside my capability, I had a laugh).

    But having said that, I was hoping that a Yirgi could be a Biftu on steroids... but you mention they are often citrus-y, so maybe not my thing.

    Have a look at the notes for each of the coffees on BeanBay as they are all quite different. But in general the natural processed will be more fruity and the washed more choc/caramel (really big generalization though!)
    Harrar is more berry (typically) than the Biftu which is more stone fruit like peaches. Yirgacheff is very citrusy and lemon - which gets a great wrap here on CoffeeSnobs but personally I am not a fan in espresso.

    If you want something choc/caramel give the Columbian Volcan a go - that with the Biftu are my two favourite beans and always winners with guests.
    Wow, all good things to learn. Next time I was thinking about a bag of Biftu (of course), an India Elephant Hills AA (it says it's sweet... and I like that!), and either the Colombian Volcan or the Peru Ceja de Selva Estate (creamy and mid palette all sound good, however, amateurs like me dont seem to enjoy them too much).

  35. #35
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    Oops, haha - seems like there isn't any Yiragcheff at the moment. But not to say it isn't a wonderful bean in the eyes of many and I hear it's awesome as a filter or pour over, but there are other beans I prefer.

    Elephant Hills, Peru and Columbian are all really good and long time favourites of CS. Well worth giving a go.

    Also next step, roast your own
    Timbosaurus likes this.

  36. #36
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    Also, if there is anyone out there that I haven't yet put to sleep with my ramblings... While I'm happy just tinkering and learning, my wife is getting increasing impatient waiting for a coffee she likes.

    FYI, we used to use Lavazza beans on a no. 6 grind from a sunbeam grinder, single wall baskets in a sunbeam 6910 without much attention paid to any process, as you seemed to be able to throw any old grinds in it's general direction and it made a drinkable coffee.

    I made her a coffee with lovely beans, dialled in to the best of my ability, but she just wasn't a fan.

    So I tried:
    1) reverted to the Lavazza beans with the new equipment (Sette + breville dual boiler). She no likey, no matter what I dialled in with grind courseness and shot volume.
    2) using the old grinder with the lavazza beans, which ended up at around no. 3 setting to get a decent pour (big difference to the 6 it was at with the 6910). Still not as good apparently, but better than the first ones, she says.
    3) finally, I set the old grinder back to No. 6, used a Breville pressurised double basket, and it poured a runny looking shot that only made it to 7 bar brew pressure. And she said it's the closest that I've made so far!

    So, I think I can take from this that she prefers an very underextracted coffee.

    But what I wonder, is whether the fact that dual wall improves things, means I'm not doing a very good job at getting an even dose/tamp?

  37. #37
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by WhatEverBeansNecessary View Post
    Also next step, roast your own
    You're funny...


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