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Thread: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Roma

  1. #1
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    Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Roma

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

    in the name of sharing experiences and learnings, I thought I would pass on some of the things I have learnt about using my Cafe Roma (CR) before and after coming to CS.

    History
    I purchased the CR about 4-5 years ago largely on the basis of a very positive recommendation by Choice Magazine who made a point of mentioning it produced the best tasting coffee out of all the machines they tested.
    Almost three years ago the steamer stopped working, and because I only drink coffee, I have never fixed it.

    Before finding CS
    Sin No1.
    I used supermarket coffee.
    Most often I used Lavazza and every now and then I used Illi for a change. To my mind there was a difference. The Illi was more subtle and had a cleaner finish which I liked. (Today I would say it is not as complex).

    Sin No2.
    I had no idea of how to make a good coffee.
    Making good coffee requires know how, even with a CR. I thought heating the machine up meant use it after the heating light went off. I let the shot run over 30ml and remember thinking the bitterness must be due to having old coffee. I used the single shot basked and remember once thinking, gee it tastes good even though I can see light through the coffee.

    Sin No3.
    In hindsight, I never really, really paid attention to the taste of the coffee the CR was producing. Now, no matter how I try and what I do, I cannot produce the intensity of flavour the Cafes can. Before I thought my CR produced coffee that was more than just ok.

    Sin No4.
    I purchased a grinder on the recommendation of Choice Magazine (The magazine edition with the grinder test came out late last year and I only found CS this year in February)
    You guessed it, I purchased the De Longhi, double Doh!
    While it is ok for the CR now, it will not grind beans fine enough for when I decide to upgrade; I am using it at its finest grind setting now. There is a work around I have found to get a finer grind see the SOLIS 166 tweak at http://www.kwilson.fsnet.co.uk/grinder_tweaks.htm

    Thatís it for now, next post will be about experimenting to get the best from the CR.
    Would love your comments too.

    Ciao

    F.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Keep it coming Franco, dont have a CR but interested in what youve learnt nonetheless.


    Cheers...................Sean

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    I know some of the things I am doing, experiencing and learning would be considered elementary but the thing that has struck me is, how much I actually did not know about the drink I have loved since childhood. What is even more astonishing is that I thought I knew a lot about coffee. Goes to show, you cannot fully know something if you dont know that you dont know it. ;) (Rumsfeld, D. 2002. "I feel that we know what we know and we dont know what we dont know")

    Finding CS has shown me how much I did not know.

    As soon as I got my grinder at Christmas I went out and got some fresh beans. I had no idea which grind setting I should use so I started about half way. In hindsight, I was grinding beans usually used in plungers. Eventually I had it turned to the finest setting. This took over one and a half months.

    While there was a significant improvement in the coffee taste I was getting, my curiosity and passion to get a better cup at home grew. I searched the net.

    I found CS
    Well!!!! No news to anyone here, night and day.

    Finding One
    Pre heat the CR.
    I usually have a coffee before going to work in the morning so to get it really warmed up and as stable as can be, it goes on as soon as I wake, and I pull the shot just as I am leaving. That is about 45min. Still not there. With the finer grind I am now getting more intensity but too bitter for my taste.

    Finding Two.
    The dose.
    I was using the one cup basket and the measuring spoon that came with the machine. I found, if I used any more than one a level measure, the seal between the group head and the basket would not keep and water would overflow and drip down into the cup. I changed to the two cup basket and now use one and a half measures of coffee. I dont know how much this is in grams but I will find this out. As a result there is difference in the colour of the pour. While before it was golden, now it is a deeper redder brown. Much better intensity but I am thinking that it could be better. Now I am thinking its not that it is bitter but it is a bit acidy. A eureka moment.

    Finding Three
    The tamp
    One night I find myself searching for my kids medicine measuring cup to see exactly what 30ml looks like. I find I am just on the money, but still I am not getting the sweetness I have been reading about. I turn to the tamp. In the instruction book it talks about a light tamp, so from the beginning, I have been giving it just a light tamp. The CR has a pressurised basket and even here on CS I have read, this means it does not need a good firm tamp.

    To assess this I started timing the pour. With a light tamp, the machine puts out about 45ml in about 11 seconds, too short. I begin to tamp with considerable force. The pour time for 30ml extends, but nowhere near the 20-25 second pour that many say is ideal. Intensity again improved, colour of the pour is good, the so called rats tails when poring are there but I still have not found that sweetness.

    More next time

    Ciao
    F.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Franco

    You and I are going to burn in hell together.

    I too was wondering why my Cafe Roma was spurting out the coffee in record time. In hindsight, it may well have been after I got the DeíLonghi that I began to notice it. Thanks for tweaking reference. I got right into the grinder and made the adjustment. However, Iím a bit coffeeíd out today to try it. Iíll try it tomorrow. Also I appreciate finding out how to pull the DeíLonghi apart. The timer knob was sticking against the housing so I took the opportunity to scrape the housing back a bit to give it more clearance. Works fine now.

    Bob

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Hey BobT

    I can smell us now, burnt coffee!!! ;D

    Let us know how the tweeking produces.

    F.




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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Instalment No3

    Finding Four
    The ideal pour is less than 30ml.
    I found that reducing the pour to between 20-25ml, including the crema finally gives a sweet taste. I have still not been able to get it to pour a 30ml shot in 20-25 seconds.

    Finding Five
    Heating the CR for 45min does not produce a stable temperature at all.
    I find even after 45 min I have to empty the chamber of water to get the heat light to come on, and only pour after it has gone off (to think Choice was still recommending this machine up until the test before this one!??).

    Finding six
    Heat the portafilter.
    I leave the portafilter on the group head while it is heating up.

    Ciao for now.
    F.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Since finding CS you have made amazing advances in your coffee journey Franco.
    Can you get a non pressurised basket for your portafilter, this would give you more control over your shots. A decent grinder is essential for good espresso, the Sunbeam EM450 is about the lowest level of grinder suitable for espresso, I have one as a spare and it does a good job.
    Keep working at it and Im sure CSers will steer you along the path to a great espresso!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Thanks greenman

    CS is such a fantastic resource and yes, getting a non pressurised basked is on the list but I have not been able to get any info on which one to use.

    Breville does not make one that fits. I know people on CS have spoken about Krups, but I rang them and they did not want to recommend a part for another brand.

    My next step is to thake the portafilter down to the local Krups repair centre and see which one fits.

    Ciao.

    F.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Franco

    Ive modified the DeíLonghi grinder 8 notches finer. The dial now baulks at what would be 6Ĺ notches finer which is probably metal to metal. However, Iím finally getting a grind that challenges the Cafť Roma pump. The intensity has certainly increased. However, like you I canít get the 20-25sec. Depending on tamping , it either doesnít come out at all or spurts out in about 5-10sec. Perhaps a non-pressurised basked would help. Iím not sure why it would but itís worth a try. I look forward to seeing how you get on with your search. It beats me how that pump can push out so much coffee through that one tiny hole so quick.

    I agree to keeping it to <30ml. It certainly reduces the bitterness and acidity.

    Regarding the temperature, I froth my milk and find that I need to flush to reduce the temperature below boiling before expressing the coffee otherwise the coffee is quite dead. Itís a bit hit or miss. Reliable temperature control would be great. I guess thatís where the big bucks come into it.

    Bob

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Id guess a non-pressurised basket would allow you more variation in the grind.

    With only one small hole to relieve the pressure the margin for error on grind size must be very narrow.

    With more holes the margin should be wider, therefore you should be able to get beyond 10 seconds without choking it.

  11. #11
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Breville make a non- pressurised basket for the ESP2(Bar Italia) that fits the Cafe Roma. Search the IKON threads- also mentions krups numbers. Good idea to get a decent tamper to use with NP baskets-to stop blow by. Im back using my Roma atm as my IKON is going back this week. Im quite satisfied with the results too i might add. Good luck.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Hi nbc

    saw the Krups numbers on Friday, and will be ringing them tomorrow. Thanks for the heads up on the Bar Italia, might ring them too.

    Ciao
    F.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Quote Originally Posted by nBC link=1205812762/0#10 date=1206352979
    Breville make a non- pressurised basket for the ESP2(Bar Italia) that fits the Cafe Roma. Search the IKON threads- also mentions krups numbers. Good idea to get a decent tamper to use with NP baskets-to stop blow by. Im back using my Roma atm as my IKON is going back this week. Im quite satisfied with the results too i might add. Good luck.
    Just rang Breville. The person I spoke to maintained that filter baskets (new) are standard across their range. They donít make a singled wall basket. Im guessing they had them on earlier machines. However Ė wait for it Ė they have one in production ďdue to customer demandĒ. Perhaps they read CS. An ETA has not been set but she guesses itís a couple of months away.

    Bob

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Non-pressurised baskets for the Breville ESP4 are definitely available and although originally intended for a Steam Pressure style machine, they are single walled, fit into an Ikon PF perfectly and work just fine. You can get them in two sizes, 1-2 Cup and 3-4 Cup although the latter will not fit into a standard Breville PF (too deep). This machine (and its baskets) are still available from authorised Breville agents....

    Cheers,
    Mal.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    I rang Breville too and followed the ESP2 line of enquire. Apparently they have the 4 cup model in stock but not the 1 and 2 cup version. The 1 and 2 cup version will however be available late in April.
    She also gave me the details of a service centre in Ashfield (Sydney).

    This kind gentleman told me he has several of each but I would need to bring the basket down so we could make a direct comparison.


    He also told me about the ESP2 and ESP4 being the same.

    I will be there on my next day off.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Quote Originally Posted by BobT link=1205812762/0#8 date=1206257544
    Franco

    Ive modified the DeíLonghi grinder 8 notches finer. The dial now baulks at what would be 6Ĺ notches finer which is probably metal to metal. However, Iím finally getting a grind that challenges the Cafť Roma pump. The intensity has certainly increased. However, like you I canít get the 20-25sec. Depending on tamping , it either doesnít come out at all or spurts out in about 5-10sec. Perhaps a non-pressurised basked would help. Iím not sure why it would but itís worth a try. I look forward to seeing how you get on with your search. It beats me how that pump can push out so much coffee through that one tiny hole so quick.

    I agree to keeping it to <30ml. It certainly reduces the bitterness and acidity.

    Regarding the temperature, I froth my milk and find that I need to flush to reduce the temperature below boiling before expressing the coffee otherwise the coffee is quite dead. Itís a bit hit or miss. Reliable temperature control would be great. I guess thatís where the big bucks come into it.

    Bob
    I thought I would do the tweek to the De Longhi tonight and wow. Does it ever increase the intensity. I can taste things in the coffee I have never tasted before. There are definitely more chocolates and caramels and that sweetness is really coming out.

    Im beginning to understand what people mean when they say the grinder is so important. I fear that the De Longhi is not going to be adjustable enough to get the best out of the coffee and the machine.


    Ciao
    F.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    I agree. However, before the De Longhi gets chucked, Iíd like to try it with an unpressurised filter basket if and when I manage to get one.

    Bob

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    hi
    ask the local breville bloke for a ESP 4 / 51 or ESP2 / 41 filter 1-2 cup. same filter

    the krups filter is 1/2mm smaller dia than the breville, so bit loose
    we use these for the Atomics as well

    graham

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Thanks fix

    Seems like its fixed ;D

    Sorry my twisted mind.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Hi, From a newbie, for newbies.

    The Coffee: Start with pre-ground coffee specifically ground for espresso machines - leave the grinding until you can draw a decent espresso from your machine. "Segafredo Espresso Casa per macchina espresso" works great with the Cafe Roma. (Youre unlikely to find this coffee in the local supermarkets but you can buy it online. Its worth it.)

    Tamping: Tamp very firmly (ignore the Breville instructions as youll end up with a watery mess with virtually no crema) - tamp, knock gently, tamp + twist. Youll need a heaped Cafe Roma spoonful of coffee for the single-cup portafilter (I havent perfected the double and I dont intend to as it doesnt hold quite enough coffee for the perfect double draw IMHO). I prefer to have approximately 1mm space between the top of the firmly tamped coffee and the top of the single-cup portafilter - for a stronger pour with an easy knock-out, tamp it right to the top. The firm tamp is the key to a great crema.

    Drawing the espresso: Put the basket on the pre-heated machine group head, and place your pre-heated cup underneath it. Turn your dial all the way to the espresso cup marking. Look carefully at the crema colour - youre looking for a mid-tan colour, not dark brown (too acidic still), and definitely not light tan (bitter). I stop drawing the coffee just as the light tan begins to show in the centre of the cup - about the size of a 5 cent piece. Turn off the dial, and put your coffee on top of the machine on the heating plate while you foam the milk.

    Note: As the Breville doesnt give us any control over its bar pressure, and were fairly new at tamping properly, its best to learn to draw each cup of coffee at its optimal point. This means we look for crema colour, not the perfect length of time (20-25 seconds) with the perfect quantity (30ml). I cant get the perfect length of time with this machine, but I can get the perfect quantity and fabulous taste by stopping just after the optimal mid-tan colour finishes. It usually takes me around 15-18 seconds to draw the coffee.

    Another note: I always flush the group head briefly into a spare cup prior to the first draw, and always flush the steamer briefly immediately before foaming a new jug of milk.

    Foaming milk: Im new to this site but Im sure there are great instructions about foaming techniques. It is possible to create great Latte foam with the Cafe Roma. Its a matter of technique, a bit of practise and dedicated concentration. Always start with fresh milk for each foam (you need the unheated protein in it for successful foam creation).

    Enjoy.

  21. #21
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Quote Originally Posted by Intellidepth link=1205812762/15#19 date=1211067262
    Hi, From a newbie, for newbies.

    The Coffee: Start with pre-ground coffee specifically ground for espresso machines - leave the grinding until you can draw a decent espresso from your machine. "Segafredo Espresso Casa per macchina espresso" works great with the Cafe Roma. (Youre unlikely to find this coffee in the local supermarkets but you can buy it online. Its worth it.)....
    Oh really? ::)...Did I miss a joke somewhere?? *:-?

    I suspect that you will struggle to find anything other than passionate disagreement with your comments here...
    [*]Buy the best grinder you can possibly afford[*]Dont waste your time or money on imported and/or supermarket coffee. Its all stale rubbish- including the above mentioned crud.[*]Buy only freshly roasted from local roasters with true integrity[*]Grind fresh to order[*]Learn good skills from and listen to those who intimately understand the espresso process- and I can assure you they wont be using preground of any brand..

    Good luck

    2mcm

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Intellidepth (and readers!!)

    Its not April 1 is it?????

    You will never.... never ever...... ) I say again NEVER - get a decent coffee from stale preground (especially leaving it even longer to go more stale???????) ....

    Ground coffee beans are stale within 3 minutes of grinding..... so unless you live next to a specialist roaster and run home and make your coffee..... forget it....

    However if you want to make something which is on par with the cheapest instant coffee..... go right ahead and use this stale cr@p preground supermarket stuff..... and preground for espresso machines????.... there is no such thing!!! Every machine will need a slightly different grind to get best results..... needing to be changed as the beans age.... even as the humidity changes..... There might be lables on the bags "for espresso machines"..... but one size doesnt fit all!!!

    As 2mcm says above.... get a quality grinder, grind FRESHLY roasted beans as you require them..... otherwise just buy the generic brand instant coffee.... flavour will be just as good..... no need for a machine either so you will save heaps!!!

  23. #23
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Intellidepth thanks for trying to help but I think youve gone about it the wrong way.
    This is Coffee Snobs.
    We dont accept mediocre coffee let alone anything less.

    While we do understand that not everyone can afford expensive equipment and have to get the best out of what they do have, we encourage them to strive for the best their equipment can deliver.
    Part of that encouragement means not accepting things like pre-ground supermarket coffee.

    If you use freshly ground, freshly roasted beans, then a Cafe Roma should be capable of making the best coffee it is capable of.
    One thing a Cafe Roma and my expensive machine have in common, is if you put cr@p coffee in cr@p coffee will come out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Intellidepth link=1205812762/15#19 date=1211067262
    leave the grinding until you can draw a decent espresso from your machine.
    Youll never grind if thats the case.

    Quote Originally Posted by Intellidepth link=1205812762/15#19 date=1211067262
    Enjoy
    Impossible with pre-ground. *::)

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    OK, got it.

    I agree with the whole fresh grind concept. Im reading keenly the threads on grind precision in order to purchase the best grinder I can possibly afford in a few months and have begun venturing into roasting facilities.

    As mentioned, Im a newbie, attempting to give my personal experience with a basic entry-level machine, playing around with better quality pre-ground stuff than I can buy at my local supermarket (I can hear your groans... amen). After viewing the previous posts in this thread I thought I had something to offer to other new starters of this particular machine. Im guessing that many owners of this type of machine start off with the supermarket version of "coffee" while theyre discovering how to use it.

    If a new owner attempts to use the machine like Breville suggest, theyll achieve constant dud shots. Even the pictures on the Breville box are scary - big bubble dry foam. At least I have something drinkable that rivals the local (and obviously in your opinion, mis-named) coffee houses.

    My apologies to the experts - Im right at the beginning of my coffee snobs journey. Perhaps Ill just lurk from now on. Im pleased to note that the critiquing was aimed at my next fix factor - the fresh grind. Thanks for steering me in the right direction. Ill get there... step by step.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Intellidepth,

    There are far too many people/organisations who promote the use of stale (supermarket) coffee - including Choice and equipment manufacturers - and that makes us see red!!!!

    Your machine - and pretty well every other one (regardless of price) can make a pretty damn good coffee... given the right ingredients and technique. Its just a pity that many never get to try their machine with real coffee and give up because the machine cant make a decent coffee. There must be heaps of coffee machines in the back of cupboards because of this very reason......

    But if the owners were told what a difference freshly ground coffee makes.... and tried it..... they would be amazed what their machine can produce.... You dont have to spend megabucks on equipment (like some of us do ::)) but you do have to use the right ingredients..... Even my La Cimbali will produce neigh on undrinkable coffee from stale supermarket preground.

    Once you have tried fresh coffee for yourself - you too will be amazed!!

    Good luck on your journey.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Im glad you took the criticism well.

    Dont lurk, youll learn more by participating and I hope newbs with Cafe Romas will get something out of this thread from both your experience and our clarifications.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Hi Intellidepth

    Thanks for the post, have to agree with most of what you posted, the Cafť Roma is able to draw the best out of most of the supermarket blends that I used too. I particularly enjoyed using Illy. I have to vouch for an improvement in taste with fresh ground coffee though, it really makes a difference; itís like a second birth.

    I used the strategy of pulling the cup early even though it was no where near the 25-30 recommended pour time. I was lucky to get 10-14 seconds most times before it would begin to blond.

    I have not used the Roma for some time now; I moved to a semi commercial machine and can now appreciate better the importance of technique in making coffee, I am still learning; when will it end.

    In hindsight I have to disagree with the purists bagging the pressurised pf and baskets though.

    With out going into a snob wank, to my mind itís a fifty/fifty throw, as to which is better because each has its benefits and each has its pitfalls.

    For me it really is about choosing something by balancing all the information, not taking an ideological approach.

  28. #28
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Stale coffee cant be better now matter how you dress it up (pressurised baskets and fake crema).

    You may be able to get the best out of supermarket coffee with a Cafe Roma but that best is not within cooee of what you can get with fresh beans.

    Here endeth the lesson. ;)

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Dont disagree with anything you said Thundergod, but I am interested to get to know better why people do not like pressurised baskets.

    Dont understand why the crema from pressurised pfs is considered less than that which comes from non pressurised ones when taste and mouth feel is the reason we drink coffee.

    If that is the case, then the argument should be which tastes better, shots from pressurised or non pressurised pfs.

    Interested to hear what people think.

    F.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Franco,

    The oils and volatiles are what gives coffee its amazing taste.... these are extracted by the pressure and temperature of the water..... the carbon dioxide present in the bean is also extracted..... which is why the beans must be fresh as the carbon dioxide and the volatiles will have "evaporated" and the oils become oxidised (rancid) as the coffee ages...

    Now the pressure can be applied from restricting the flow of water either by the mass of coffee grinds after appropriate tamping or by a very small hole in the basket - a "pressurised basket".... these will both work assuming beans are of equal quality (fresh!!!)....

    But as they exit the basket, with a normal basket there is a smooth exit.... the crema is left in tact. With a pressurised basket it squirts out..... and is mixed with air!!! - the enemy of coffee- and the creama is largely destroyed (no longer volatiles, oils and carbon dioxide in a homogeneous mix).....

    There is a noticeable difference in taste when comparing a naked extraction and one with a portafilter with normal base..... the naked has a better taste.... and that is with just the interaction of the base of the PF...... so what do you think a fine jet hitting the base at high velocity will do????

    Imagine a bottle of coke left to go flat..... and instead of replacing the carbon dioxide you whisk air into the coke.... will it taste like coke.... nope.... it wont have the mouthfeel that coke has...... even pouring fresh coke back and forward from glass to glass will cause it to degas and alter the taste and the mouthfeel - and that is the same with espresso.

    So why do they make pressurised PFs? Well if you buy supermarket cr@p coffee..... or leave fresh coffee lying about for a while - there is little volatiles and carbon dioxide left (the oils being less than ideal - but still there).... so under pressure from just the puck - no crema and poor mouthfeel..... however if you pressure cook the grinds in the pressurised basket..... and squirt it through a small hole at high velocity..... it picks up air (bad, bad, bad) and that froths up the coffee making it look like crema..... hence the term "crema enhancing"..... but it is false crema and if you appreciate good coffee - it will taste like cr@p!!!! The other advantage is that the pressure is generated by the tiny hole - so tamping isnt critical...... the lazy approach to making espresso!!!

    Its not about being a purist..... its about having espresso produced how it is designed to be.... using the natural process with as little interference as possible....

    However if the taste of espresso from a pressurised basket appeals to you, then thats fine...... but I wont be drinking it- thats for sure!!!

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Quote Originally Posted by Franco link=1205812762/15#28 date=1211375890
    Dont disagree with anything you said Thundergod, but I am interested to get to know better why people do not like pressurised baskets.

    Dont understand why the crema from pressurised pfs is considered less than that which comes from non pressurised ones when taste and mouth feel is the reason we *drink coffee.

    If that is the case, then the argument should be which tastes better, shots from pressurised or non pressurised pfs.

    Interested to hear what people think.

    F.
    Beat me JavaB.

    Franco,

    Answering you in my own words, the pressurised baskets produce fake crema.
    The baskets are designed to produce a coffee that looks like the real thing.

    To me its like any other dodgy practice used to make bad food look good.

    You wouldnt stand for the meat you buy being tarted up to look fresh so why would you accept stale coffee tricked up to look fresh?

    In the case of meat, many of the old tricks are now illegal.
    It may not be illegal to use pressurised baskets to fool the public but to me its just as wrong.

  32. #32
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    This is a little off topic, but I think may be useful for some people.

    Since Ive started reading Coffeesnobs, I wondered just how much difference using a non-pressurised basket would make, and whether my grinder would be up to the task. I very much doubted that it was, and that, because of this, I would notice any difference. In fact I thought things could very well go backwards.

    FYI Im using a Sunbeam EM4800C (Cafe Crema) with a Breville BCG450 grinder, a generic 51mm tamper and freshly roasted (within a week) Columbian beans from the Jindebah Cafe in the ACT.

    Today, curiosity got the better of me, and I called up a Sunbeam service agent to see if I could get hold of either the Krups unpressurised baskets and group head seal, or the Breville Bar Italia unpressurised basket. The lady was really not very helpful at all, saying they had no stock, had no idea when they would get any, and that she couldnt give me the parts unless I owned the machine they were for. So I gave up.

    Then I was in the Good Guys buying an electric blanket (chilly Canberra winters), and spotted a store special on ... you guessed it ... the Breville Bar Italias. Man this is going to be an expensive basket I thought, then bought one. Of course, at this stage I had no idea whether it would work well with my grinder at all.

    Anyway, I rinsed off the 1 - 2 cup basket, popped it into my Sunbeam, ground some coffee, and its brilliant! On the Brevilles finest grind, Im getting the most beautiful pours, with tons of thick, rich, glossy crema. And the taste is fantastic, definitely better than with the pressurised baskets.

    So if you have this grinder, and arent sure if its worth getting an unpressurised basket, all I can say is, It is.

    Now what on earth am I going to do with a Breville Bar Italia minus the 1 - 2 cup filter? Im thinking eBay.

    PS I tried some preground supermarket coffee I had lying around in the pantry, and the results were ... terrible. So if you dont use fresh beans ground for espresso, I wouldnt bother with the unpressurised baskets.

  33. #33
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Quote Originally Posted by porschemad911 link=1205812762/30#31 date=1211524197
    she couldnt give me the parts unless I owned the machine they were for.
    WTF?

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Yes, thats what I was tempted to quietly think to myself.

    Haha, she also asked me if I called up yesterday, so I guess theres a few people in Canberra trying to get hold of unpressurised baskets!

    I was thinking of getting rid of the black plastic thing in the bottom of the portafilter. Does anyone have any ideas how to plug up the centre hole that the screw sat in safely and easily?

  35. #35
    Sleep is overrated Thundergod's Avatar
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Its called a graeme.

    What screw?

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    It goes up from the bottom in the centre, and screws into the black plastic insert that pokes down through the two holes. The hole in the metal isnt threaded, the screw goes straight into the plastic.

  37. #37
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Ahh...one of those type.

    Someone else will have to answer that one for you.

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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Thanks all for your replies, but I would like to still play the devilís advocate if I could.

    First a story to illustrate my point. I love gnocchi. (Gnocchi is an Italian dish made from potato dumplings with a sauce mixed in like pasta.) My mother has always made them from scratch cooking, mashing the potatoes and then binding it into dough which is then shaped into the dumplings and cooked like pasta.

    Recently my sister started to use Deb (instant potato mash out of a packet) to make the potato dough and I thought this was outrageous (fake gnocchi), so she challenged me to be able to tell the difference. After all was said and done, I could never tell when she had made them from Deb. Much to my annoyance I have to say.

    My argument is this; you cannot compare pressurised pfs and non pressurised pf, clearly the shots they produce are different. However, if youíre using the exact same bean, the best grind for each pf type, a naked basket, etc, etc then you will get two different shots which have their own inherent characteristics and one will taste like A and one will taste like B. One will highlight certain things in the bean and one will highlight other things.

    Itís a bit like mocha coffee and drip, their different, and to be enjoyed in and of themselves.

    While I too consider Deb gnocchi to be fake gnocchi, they still taste ok, and I have to admit, can be made with a lot less fuss.

    What do people think?

  39. #39
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Franco,

    Ill line up a bottle of Grange Hermitage (if I could afford it!!) and a Chateau Cardboard elcheapo cask red.....

    They are both made from grapes....
    They are both fermented in much the same way....
    They are both wines.....

    But the taste difference..... OH BOY!!!! and no-one would say that the Chateau Cardboard tastes better.....

    Someone who hasnt ever tasted much good wine would probably say the Chateau Cardboard tastes pretty good.... but give it to anyone with a developed wine palate - and they would in, all likelihood, spit it out!!!

    And to my coffee palate (not well developed compared to many).... the extract from a pressurised basket is the Chateau Cardboard of espresso!!!!

  40. #40
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Hi Java

    Yes they are both made from grapes but the taste difference is because they are different grapes, non the less, my argument is that does not make one bad or good.

    I too cannot afford Grange, but thats my point, there are tradeoffs and each has its good and bad points.

    Using your example, what we are comparing is more like the same grape being fermented in French oak compared a steel vat.

    They are different, the wine from the oak would be full of subtitles and complexities that we would pay a premium for but unlucky for me I usually end up getting the $25 bottle which is invariably out of the vat.

    I remember a wine judge commenting on a sweet white wine once saying, while I dislike the taste of sweet whites, this one is very well made......., and went on to describe its brightness, its fruitiness its complexity, etc etc.

    In short, coffee from pressurised pf is different so you should not compare it to non pressurised pfs. However pressurised pf coffee is more convenient to make and has its own tastes which can be appreciated just like non pressurised pf coffee.

    Over to you.

    Ciao
    F.

  41. #41
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    It goes up from the bottom in the centre, and screws into the black plastic insert that pokes down through the two holes. The hole in the metal isnt threaded, the screw goes straight into the plastic.
    Go to your local hardware store and buy a bolt and nut to fit. Or you could use food grade silver solder to plug the hole. Hope this helps. ;)

  42. #42
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Hi, a question about tamping and unpressurised vs pressurised baskets in the context of the Roma...

    a) At the moment Im finding Im tamping really firmly, with a nearly full pressurised single basket to get the best extraction Im able to get thus far... By going to an unpressurised with this seemingly fast flowing machine (?15 bar?), will it actually slow down the water flow so the length of time/coffee complexity starts getting nearer the ideal? Or am I on the wrong tack?

    And another question which might be answered elsewhere:

    b) what is the difference in coffee complexity/taste etc between a short extraction to the same blonding point as a longer (ideal) extraction? (ie what am I missing??? ;))

    Thanks.

    Off topic: BTW, my current grinders of choice to purchase are the Compak K3 Touch/ECA KS Doserless but I cant seem to find threads on their throw.

    EDIT: Im tamping 11g into the single basket.

  43. #43
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    I gave up trying to get a non-pressurised basket so I drilled out my 2 cup basket. I used a 1.5mm bit and drilled out the pin-hole on the underside. For good measure I also drilled out the 8 square indentations surrounding the pin-hole. That should substantially reduce the pressurised effect.

    Results are significantly improved but not great. I find that no matter how fine I grind and how hard I tamp, I still get the 30ml in 10 to 15sec. Leaving it to extract any longer results in the coffee being undrinkably bitter. The next step is to see if there is a way of reducing the pump pressure.

  44. #44
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Bob,

    What grinder are you using? If your grinder produces lots of fines (uneven grind size) - which is quite common with the cheaper grinders - these fines are over extracted and produce a bitter espresso. A Sunbeam 0450 grinder is about the lowest quality you can use..... an Iberital is a LOT better!

    With pressurised baskets you can use a coarser grind..... but "normal" baskets will show up the inadequacy of your grinder as it does have to produce a finer (and very even) grind. You also need to tamp more effectively as any area of channelling in the puck will produce bitterness.

    A non pressurised basket will produce a far better extraction.... but is far more dependent on grinder and technique to achieve that.

    I doubt adjusting the pump pressure will have much effect.....

  45. #45
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Thanks for the advice. I have a DeLonghi grinder. I think its destined for the bin.

    "A non pressurised basket will produce a far better extraction.... but is far more dependent on grinder and technique to achieve that" You are dead right. Im getting a lot of variability. Its quite amasing how it can go from beautiful to undrinkable so easy.

  46. #46
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan link=1205812762/30#40 date=1211585625
    It goes up from the bottom in the centre, and screws into the black plastic insert that pokes down through the two holes. The hole in the metal isnt threaded, the screw goes straight into the plastic.
    Go to your local hardware store and buy a bolt and nut to fit. *Or you could use food grade silver solder to plug the hole. *Hope this helps. ;)
    Thanks Stan! I popped into Bunnings today and bought a packet of the tiniest nuts and bolts they had. The nut was a *very* tight fit, and doesnt go all the way into the well, but it seems to seal ok. Unfortunately this mod may well turn out to irreversable, as the screw pattern on the bolt is very soft, and my nice solid screwdrivers have mashed it into an undriveable shape.

    Im wondering how to get the best out of the pour. At the moment its a bit drippy, with large bubbles occasionally forming on the portafilter holes, and the crema is quite pale. The shot starts out very dark, flowing in two nice thin streams, then goes a little drippy.

    Im using freshly roasted beans (within a week), a 1-2 cup Bar Italia filter, a generic stainless tamper and a Breville BCG450 grinder (on the finest setting). Am I grinding too fine? The pour is quite slow. If so, shouldnt this give darker crema? I dont think Im underdosing, since when I tried to put a little extra coffee in water flowed up over the edge of the portafilter.

    Any ideas?

    UPDATE: I tried grinding a couple of notches courser this morning, and things were much better, the flow was smoother (although still a few bubbles forming on the spouts occasionally) and the crema much darker.

    Then I went one notch coarser again, and was back to pale crema and bubbles forming. I did a quick sample, and it still tasted fantastic though!

  47. #47
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Just ordered an ESP4/51 non-pressurised basket from local Breville dealer for $13, and a Compak K3T grinder from Chris at Talk Coffee (thanks Chris). Looking forward to playing around with them when the grinder arrives in about 3 weeks when the shipment arrives. Chris, thanks for answering my misguided query about "throw" which apparently only applies to dosered grinders ::).


  48. #48
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    In answer to my own question b) a few posts above, and after an afternoon of experimenting just for the fun of it, the short length of time to same blonding produces a very distinct acidic flavour (?ristretto? characteristics), the longer to same blonding a more rounded flavour, using the same tamping/grammage.

    The difference between using the single basket and the double with the same tamped 11g of the same coffee is absolutely huge. (The double also has a 2 second time difference, and an additional 1/3rd quantity increase to reach the same blonding point.)

    Im using up my pre-ground practising my consistency with tamping pressure and knock-box techniques...

  49. #49
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    Glad I found this thread!

    I currently use a Breville Bar Italia with a coffee chopper (spice "grinder"). Yes, you can gasp in horror if you like. Total cost= $75.

    I currently have on order/lay-by an Ascaso i-mini (reputed to be excellent for the $300 price tag) and a Breville Cafť Roma (would have loved to get something better, but preferred to spend the $$ we had on a better grinder, plus it was 40% off). Total cost= $469.

    I was getting prepared to whip out the angle grinder to deal with the double-walled basket but given that I seem to already own the right sized basket with my Bar Italia (and a spare under the house with my old Bar Italia!) I guess I wont need to.

    Ive been roasting my own beans for a couple of weeks now and the difference in coffee quality is fantastic - even in the Bar Italia (which can make a great brew) but especially in my mates Silvia.

    Very much looking forward to using quality, home-fresh beans, a great grinder and a decent machine with proper baskets!

    Can anyone using the Bar Italia baskets tell me the max weight of coffee you can fit in the single basket? 11g max? Id love it to be more like 13-14g... Otherwise I guess I can cut the 3-4 cup and weld it together a bit shorter, I suppose...

    Cheers
    Stuart.

  50. #50
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    Re: Learning to make better coffee with a Cafe Rom

    I happen to have a friend who has had the cafe Roma for quite a while now, but only recently stepped up to the coffeesnobs status. He got himself a new grinder and managed to get Bar italia baskets but only the shallower one because apparently, the deeper (double?) one wouldnt fit into the Cafe Roma PF. Hes also been experimenting with dosing and the max he managed to squeeze in was 16g but at that dose he said the shot was not very good and didnt taste all that well. According to him, the best shots were pulled with 15g doses.
    Got another friend also with a Cafe Roma (seems to be the machine of choice amongst my non-snob friends) and hes trying to source the Bar italia baskets but werent able to get them. Tried the place the other friend got his from but they were out of it. Where do you source them?



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