Hola amigos

I have a Sunbeam 3800 with unpressurised Krups baskets and an 0480 conical burr grinder, modified to grind super fine.

I have been working hard at perfecting my dose, tamping, and shot technique to try and get as close to cafe quality coffee as possible. I grind straight into the basket using beans from the Vic Market - not home roasted but pretty good.

Ive been making some decent coffee, but not what Id call great. My biggest problem is that if I grind fine and tamp firm, I either get too slow a shot (45+ secs for 30ml) or choke the machine altogether. If I grind coarser and/or tamp too light, I get a shot that is too watery and with very little crema.

I also note that I think I may have damaged the group head seal - today when I tried to pull a shot steam and water came out around the handle. I took the head apart and the seal seemed ok, but I think Im pushing the little guy beyond what he can bear.

Have I just hit the limit of my machine, or does someone have some ideas for me to try?