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Thread: Sunbeam EM4800C fast pour problem

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Sunbeam EM4800C fast pour problem

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight

    Im very new to both drinking and making coffee. I hope someone can help me on my journey ...

    I recently purchased a cheap Sunbeam EM4800 espresso machine. The results are very drinkable and much better than my previous coffee plunger attempts at making coffee.

    The first couple of attempts were a bit bitter and I realized I needed to shorten the pour to collect only about 25mls of espresso. This removed the bitterness - quite nice, but the resulting pour time was extremely short - about 7 seconds from when the coffee first started to flow until 25mls had been collected. The colour was also more yellow than red/brown. Pretty much exactly the same as the first picture shown at It tasted OK but didnt give the same caffeine hit as coffee shop coffee. So, it seems clear that the problem is underextraction. I made sure to warm the group head before starting. I even tried using a two cup basket today for a single shot and tried tamping more firmly. The machine comes with a flimsy plastic tamper so its hard to apply too much pressure - but I was at least able to invert it without the contents falling out. The firmer tamping produced a slightly darker colour initially *but the pour was still too fast.

    It seems the most common explanation of fast pour resulting in under extraction seems to be too coarse a grid. I purchased the beans from my local coffee shop and they ground them for me (suitable for expresso). Obviously I could ask them to grind *finer next time - but I just wanted to check if anyone could point out any other more obvious causes. Ive been keeping the ground beans in a resealable ziplock bag in the refrigerator - is that OK? They do seem a bit damp/clumper than the previous batch that I got from the same coffee shop - but the previous ones were ground for my coffee plumber - so Ive not tried them in the espresso machine.

    Im happy to buy a better tamper and Ill eventually get my own grinder - but thats probably 6 months off - until I save up.

    Any advice greatly appreciated!

    While Im sure a more expensive machine could produce better results but my goal is simply to produce coffee close to average coffee shop quality and I feel Im not too far away from that - just a little fine tuning required.

    Cheers, Wayne.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2005

    Re: Sunbeam EM4800C fast pour problem

    Quote Originally Posted by 727C7575606E2D2B190 link=1280493684/0#0 date=1280493684
    any other more obvious causes
    Finer &/or harder tamp are the biggies - the grinder means its quicker than the next bag to adjust (and the optimum grind will vary depending on humidity, age of beans, etc.)

    Another factor is that the EM4800 will have pressurised baskets - these have a second basket floor with a pinhole that creates fake crema even when using stale pre-ground super-market coffee as most consumers would buy. *Unfortunately pressure from the basket rather than the coffee grinds themselves makes it very difficult to get proper extraction from nice fresh beans. *There has been lots of discussion on CS about buying or converting to unpressurised baskets - search should find heaps (just watch out for the default search period).

    Quote Originally Posted by 727C7575606E2D2B190 link=1280493684/0#0 date=1280493684
    bag in the refrigerator - is that OK? *
    Not ideal - each time you take it out and open the bag a small amount of condensation will form on the grinds/beans starting reactions that you would rather happen when you are ready to consume. A cool dark cupboard is fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by 727C7575606E2D2B190 link=1280493684/0#0 date=1280493684
    They do seem a bit damp/clumpier ... the previous ones were ground for my coffee plumber
    Coffee is ground much coarser for plunger than espresso - fresh beans ground espresso fine will tend to be a bit clumpy due to the oils (which is why its best to grind just before use as these oils oxidise quickly giving a rancid taint rather than pure schweeeeetness). *This also explains why super-market pre-ground is a nice free-flowing powder - stale as.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Re: Sunbeam EM4800C fast pour problem

    use the double shot basket, with two scoops, the em4800s are only really good for making 1 cup at a time

    what is the extraction time
    how much coffee are you putting in the filter basket

    generally you will not get as good a tatse as with a commercial machine
    commercial baskets are bigger and the pressures are differnet and give more taste and body


  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Re: Sunbeam EM4800C fast pour problem

    Thanks for your advice!

    Heres an update:

    The coffee shop had originally ground the coffee on setting 3.5 which is their default for expresso. After I explained my problem they offered to regrind the remainder of the bag on a finer setting. I asked them to grind it on setting 2. I also bought a sturdy metal tamper. I filled a 2 cup basket with the new finer grind and tamped as firmly as I could. It toke a lot longer for anything to start to flow, I got *few drops of really dark liquid and *them a whole bunch of liquid and fine coffee particles exploded from the head and liquid started leaking from around the seal of the group head - not good! I cleaned up the mess and started again, this time with the lightest possible tamping. Same result *:(

    So, it seems the ideal grind is less than 3.5 but greater than 2.0. *Hopefully I havent premanently damaged the group head seal. Im thinking more conservative for my next batch - perhaps 3.0. What do you think? Should I persist with this coffee shop grinding or is there any advantage to considering supermarket preground coffee? Im not ready to purchase my own grinder just yet - especially when I dont know if my machine is even going to work again properly. Fingers crossed.

    Cheers, Wayne.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Re: Sunbeam EM4800C fast pour problem

    You have experienced your first "blowout".

    Unfortunately blowouts are a common occurrence on these machines as they have no OPV (over pressure valve). This means when you grind to fine, the pressure rises to the pumps max pressure of 15 bar, rather than the 9-11bar on a machine with OPV. 15bar is often too much pressure for the seal/plastic surround to handle, and eventually it finds another way out.

    Your machine should be fine. Things to do after a blowout:

    1. Clean up and around the seal. There will be heaps of coffee grinds sprayed in here. You need to wash/wipe all the grinds away or else they can cause further blowouts.

    2. Make sure the exit hole in the pressurized basket is clear. Sometimes fine grind will block this. Test by putting some water in the basket, then put your palm over the top and squeeze. You should be able to push a nice long stream of water through.

    3. Finally clamp an empty basket, run plenty of brew water though for up to 30sec or so to make sure. You should have no leaks.

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