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Thread: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

  1. #1
    Kes
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    Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all
    Ive recently bought an espresso machine - a Sunbeam EM3600 - and Im struggling to get it right!! Firstly, the crema seems to get a head on it like a badly poured beer. Ive referred to the manual and the DVD that came with it but it just doesnt seem right somehow. Tastes great, mind you, but just seems to be bubbly and not at all like the photos. Secondly, I cannot get the milk right for the life of me. It is getting way too hot with little frothing or extension. In other words a latte seems more like a flat white. Again, Im using the instructions as a guide.
    For what its worth, I was able to get it right with my old machine (a Morphy Richards Italiano model) and I have had training using a commercial machine. any ideas?
    Kes
    PS Im aware from reading some other posts that I may cop some criticism for having a Sunbeam rather than a $1500 Gaggia. Dont bother - Ive got what fits in the family budget (I wouldnt get away with taking the kids out of school to support my habit!!) and my previous budget-priced machine was excellent.

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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Kes,

    Are you using a grinder? and if so, what grinder are you using?

    What Beans are you using?

    $1500 Gaggia?? Never seen that posted here anywhere

  3. #3
    Kes
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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    MarcS - no, I dont use a grinder. I buy ground coffee. Is there one that you recommend? As for the Gaggia comment, I exaggerated a tad but I saw a post where someone had a cheaper machine and half of the replies were suggesting that a new machine should be purchased. I probably got defensive in advance!!

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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Kes,

    Firstly, preground will ALWAYS give you inferiour results. If youve searched around here long enough that much is very clear!

    Principles for a good quality coffee is this:

    * "Freshly roasted" Coffee Beans and within 4 weeks from being roasted (Some say 3 weeks, but it can be stretched to 4 IMHO). Nothing on a supermarket shelf with meet that criteria.
    * Ground on demand using at least a Sunbeam EM0450 grinder (Ive used a Delonghi KG100 on this machine and it wasnt fine enough). Anything less will be disappointing - in other words, grind the coffee as you need it.
    * Having used a EM3600, you really need to updose - jam as much coffee in the basket as you can.

    Technique can then be fine tuned after the above criteria is met.
    I understand the budget constraint - we all have them at different degrees - however, we cant alter the science of creating a fantastic coffee without "key" essentials in the process.

    I hope this is of some help you.

    IF a grinder is out of the question, then at least find a local roaster who can grind for you and buy small amounts at a time. This is the only work around in regards to a grinder. My suggestion, keep an eye in the For Sale section and youll find some bargins from time to time.

  5. #5
    Kes
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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    MarcS
    This sounds like good advice and Ill look into the acquisition of a grinder. When you say I need to overstock the basket, to what extent? I use strictly 7 grams which is pretty much a one scoop. When tamped, sits a couple of mm below the lip. Do you think I should put in justa fractuion more?

    In the meantime, I will get some more finely ground coffee.
    Thanksagain.
    Kes

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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Kes,

    Dose so its tamped and level with the basket rim... forget the 7gram rule... just fill the basket until its full, tamp, and fill again. You need a tamped full basket level with the rim (or just below)

    Marc

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    Kes
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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Thanks Marc - Ill have a go tonight. I dont expect to be able to get to sleep!
    Kes

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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    gday kes

    ive just got the same unit few days ago, well mines the red one it goes faster ;)

    as for filling the baskets i fill 1mm below the top & pound it in real tight getting a better tamper will make a big improvment.

    funny enough with the frothing i got it right after making my third cup what i do is cause it to bubble a bit in the beginning then just keep the end of the pipe just below the milk line as it makes a loud hissing sound since then ive allmost mastered it now from making a few cups, yer i followed the dvd to but its a bit hard to expect the same results when the machine hes using is $600 unit & not the cheap one we have but it does get better the more u use it

    good luck m8 happy brewing..

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    Kes
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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Thanks Kringle (and Marc if youre reading)
    I bought some ground coffee last night that was ground for espresso machines. A nice arabica Freetrade called Scarborough. I put in a scoop and a bit and tamped well. Beautiful result. As for frothing, I ended up following advice similar to yours (didnt see it until this morning). The milk stretched really well but wasnt warm enough.
    Keep posting - we can compare notes!
    Kes

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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Im reading :-)

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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Hi Kes - welcome to the site. I just had a quick look at the Sunbeam site and I am pretty confident that your machine uses dual wall (crema enhancing) baskets (like my old Sunbeam Ristretto). What that means is that instead of the hot water passing straight through the tamped coffee grounds and out a couple of hundred small holes in the bottom of the basket, it instead percolates around the coffee and then out a couple of small holes before going into the two big holes where you see the coffee exiting from...alright this means that you will see crema, but it will be nothing like the crema that you will get from a higher end machine with proper commercial style baskets. So you can either try to get single walled baskets (ie commercial style) from somewhere or just persevere knowing that you will not get the same product as you would from say the Sunbeam EM6910 for example (or Gaggia Classic, or Rancilio Silvia - or for that matter a $10k commercial machine).

    But dont dispair - Marc has given you the best advise you could hear....if you use fresh coffee and grind your own beans you will get a much better product that what you have got so far. You might get away with a KG100 but really for the price you would be better getting the upper end Sunbeam grinder. The beans and grinder are a far more important part of the coffee making equation than the machine!

    Ok...you might want to also roast your own beans at home. It can be done in a pop corn maker or bread maker with a heat gun (Corretto) so dont worry about expensive home roasting machines. You will not believe how good the result is even without much science going into things initially.

    Overall you will always be limited by your machine, but I am confident that you will see a massive improvement by following the above.

    As for milk texturing - practice, practice, practice:) No one gets it right straight away. Try practicing with water first to get a swirl going. I suggest you search the Milk Froth and Bubbles part of this board and read the suggestions as to how to go about it...its a very good source.

    Let us know how you go..

    Cheers
    Oz

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    Kes
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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Thanks Oz. Ill keep practising and try the advice. A grinder is on my horizon!
    Kes

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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    No worries Kez - keep posting and reading on this site and you will get well and truly hooked:)

    Cheers

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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Thats good advise Oz ;-)

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    Kes
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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Agreed!

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    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    I used a Sunbeam Cafe Latte for years; you can definitely get decent coffee from these machines if paired with a halfway decent grinder.

    The one thing I really cant stress enough is the benefit of krupps/non-pressurised baskets. My experience has been that even with freshly roasted and ground beans, youre pushing the proverbial uphill trying to get a decent extraction with the stock Sunbeam baskets. The good news is that the krupps version will only set you back $20 and that several people have successfully removed the outer skin from the stock ones.

    Some other tips for getting the best from cheapie thermoblock machines:
    • even though the warm up light flicks off within five minutes of switching it on, give it a decent warmup (15-20 minutes) with the portafilter in place, then flush some water through the group head and empty portafilter. Thermal stability isnt the best with small thermoblock machines so getting everything nice and hot will help prevent sourness creeping into your shots.
    • Always pour the espresso first, then steam the milk - you want the water hot, but not boiling!
    • if you do need to pour an espresso soon after using the steam wand, flush water through the group head until it stops steaming.
    • Definitely updose as far as you can, and stop the shot early if it starts to run blonde. With my EM3500 I tend to use a double basket to make a slightly long single ristretto (30ml or so).
    • Remove the black plastic insert from inside the group handle - this is only there to create fake crema from stale coffee and over time will trap lots of coffee oils and solids that will then go rancid, leading to nasty flavours and health concerns!
    • The included tamper really is completely useless. I have a 51mm sunbeam tamper that came in their barista kit which is a bit better though still not great. There are plenty of better alternatives if youre willing to spend a bit more (eg Pullman tampers and those available from coffee parts).


    Good luck, and enjoy!

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    Kes
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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Cheers M@.
    Where would I get baskets from? Also (and pardon my ignorance on this one) but isnt the double skin designed to create a back-pressure to allow for the fact that they are not as powerful as a bigger machine? Would a single skin basket compromise this?
    Kes

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    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Hi Kes, if you get in touch with Krups - http://www.krups.com/Tools/Contact/Contact.htm - they can send you a list of their service agents who all sell spare parts; the part number for the double basket that fits most Sunbeam machines is #0907163. From recent reports it may be worth shopping around as prices can to vary wildly between agents; but you might also want to physically visit one to confirm that the basket fits your portafilter.

    The double skin is there because most people with these machines use stale, coarsely ground supermarket coffee that doesnt build up the correct pressure in the machine; the basket artificially creates pressure instead. Even the cheapest machines tend to have pretty capable pumps, so by varying the grind, quantity and tamp of coffee you can control the pressure built up behind the coffee, which in turn will control how long the pour takes and how good it tastes!

    The only proviso would be that a really fine grind can choke the machine - ie, it will build up so much pressure that the water cant get through - but this can happen with any machine.

    Cheers, Matt

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    Senior Member ozscott's Avatar
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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    second all that Matt

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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    heres something i just tried Kes

    was reading the instructions about frothing the milk & it says to keep your jug in the fridge.
    so i stuck it in freezer for 10min before use & WOW it took frothing the milk to a new level, was much easier to do it & much quicker too.

    give that a go see how it goes.

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    Kes
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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Thanks for that Kringle. Ive got a big weekend of coffee brewing coming up!
    Kes

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    Kes
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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right

    Thanks to all who have responded. Ive been practising quite a bit this weekend and things are looking up. I think Ive got the extraction about right - still a bit frothy but its doing OK. My only concern is that by dosing more the group head gets pretty dirty!

    On the milk side, Ive mastered the small jug that came with the EM3600. Ive just got to practise more with my bigger jug to get it dead right.

    New tamps, baskets and a grinder are a bit down the track for now. The quality is nearing my old machine which exceeded some coffee shops!

    For what its worth (note to all Sunbeam owners) they faxed me some information by Paul Barrett that is not in the user manuals and not on the Barrett DVD that came with my machine. Ill see if I can scan and upload at some point.

    Thanks again!
    Kes

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    Re: Getting a Sunbeam EM3600 right


    Good stuff Kes!
    :)



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